“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences than other people.” –Steve Jobs
“In fact, life is our greatest teacher. Whatever we are doing can be instructive, whether we are at the office, or talking to our spouse, or driving a car on the freeway. If we are present to our experiences, the impressions of our activities will be fresh and alive, and we will always learn something new from them. But if we are not present, every moment will be like every other, and nothing of the preciousness of life will touch us.”
― Don Richard Riso, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types
In Western culture, we consider creativity the province of a select few. But that’s not true of all cultures. In primitive societies, for example, most people participate in creative activities. In more “advanced” ones, creativity becomes something special and therefore an option for fewer and fewer people. In the West, we tend to be concerned solely with the outcome of creativity. The product, so to speak. Asian cultures, on the other hand, are about the process of creativity. They care more about the journey than the destination itself.
How do cultures come to such different approaches towards creativity?
It might boil down to our beliefs, particularly as they relate to creation. In the west, our story of creation begins with this, “In the beginning God created heaven and Earth.” We take this to mean that God created something from nothing, and thus, we humans tend to approach creation in the same way. This line of thought suggests that the creative act is linear. It says that the creator starts at X and advances until he/she reaches Y.
Contrastingly, in Chinese culture, the universe, the Tao, has no beginning. There has always been something and there will always be. For the Chinese, the creative act is not one of invention but of discovery. Confucius himself said, “I transmit but do not create.”
The Hindus hold similar beliefs. In Hindu culture, there is nothing to invent, only old truths to rediscover and combine in new, imaginative ways. For Hindus, the creative genius is like a light bulb illuminating a room. The room has always been there and always will. The creative genius doesn’t create or even discover the room. She illuminates it. And this is not insignificant because without illumination, we would remain ignorant of the room’s existence and of the wonders that lie inside.
Personally, I think that our Western version of creation, from the very beginning, has been misconstrued and taken out of context. If you continue reading Genesis, God’s story goes on to say that God always has been and always will be…That we are carefully crafted in His image. Thus, our creation story is closely in line with that of the Chinese or Hindu cultures. It has no beginning and no end. What they call the Universe, we call God. This points us to the rightful conclusion that the creative act is, in fact, non linear. The process of creativity is just as important, if not more so, than the outcome. When we begin to approach creativity in this way, not only does it become more accessible, but also significantly more rewarding.
What is the difference between failure that leads to innovation and failure that leads to… more failure?
What does it mean when people say, “That was a successful failure”?
The answer, researchers believe, lies not in the failure itself but how we recall it or, more precisely, how we store it. Successful failures are those people who remember exactly where and how they failed. This way, when they encounter the same problem again, they’re able to retrieve these “failure indices” quickly and efficiently. They don’t make the same mistake twice.
It seems that the advice we were given as children when confronted with failure, “Just forget it and move on” is wrong. “Remember it and move on” is the way to success.
The guiding principle for “successful failure” is the scientific method. Fail until something works. It’s about failing in a thoughtful and efficient manner. Failure can be a wonderful learning experience as long as it’s in the aid of some continuing process. The important thing is to fail early. Kill the ones that aren’t working right away.
Think of failure like fertilizer. It must be used by a skilled farmer, otherwise it is useless and smells bad.
Bill gates, Steve Jobs, Woody Allen. All college dropouts. Einstein’s PhD dissertation was rejected twice. Thomas Edison dropped out of school at age fourteen. While some geniuses (Marie Curie and Sigmund Freud, for example) were stellar students, most were not.
In a study of some 300 creative geniuses, Dean Simonton found that the majority made it only halfway through what was considered a modern education at the time. Any more, or less, was detrimental. So while some education is essential to creative genius, it seems that beyond a certain point, more education does not increase the chances of genius but instead lowers it.
The deadening effect of formal education manifests itself surprisingly early. Psychologists have identified the exact year when a child’s creative thinking skills plateau: the fourth grade.
I’ve found the key to happiness!
It hit me like a bolt of lightening after observing other cultures while traveling through South East Asia.
Here it is:
I don’t want anything more than what I have right now. I don’t wish to be anywhere else than where I currently am.
Really internalize these thoughts. When you do, you cannot NOT be happy. When you truly believe that everything in life happens exactly as it’s supposed to (and it does), you release yourself from a desire to control and thus become free to experience joy in it’s purest form (presence and gratitude).
All that you have right now is all that you need. And you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
“Don’t let anxious thinking replace vulnerable feelings.”
Life comes in waves.
It ebbs and flows.
Let things come
and let things go.
Traveling introduces us to ourselves. As we discover more of our world, we discover more of who we are.
We visit places that leave us speechless, and then turn us into storytellers.
We learn how other people live. There are so many ways to exist.
And we get to choose!
…but we only get one life.
We push past limits. Break through boundaries. And live outside of our comfort zones.
We meet people. Love people. Trust people.
Even when we don’t share a language…
It’s okay because we’ve learned how to trust ourselves. And our intuition.
We make unforgettable memories, that become like secret treasures…shared only by those who were there.
Our loved ones want to hear about our travels. They like our stories of adventure. So we do our best to tell them. But we can only share so much.
Because the truth is, the great things in life can’t be captured or described, only experienced.
And the best moments of all, no doubt the traveler’s favorite, are the ones that can’t even be understood…only appreciated.