Creativity

photo cred: Mark Schaefer

Creativity is often attributed to being within the same class as talent.

“Some people have to work hard and try to be creative” is how most people think.

I wholly agree. But that is the silver lining, creativity can truly be worked at – it can be developed.

Back in the day my tiny little sister would draw pictures of her favourite female cartoon characters. Without fail she produced truly awful drawings. On a scale of 1-10 they were probably a 3 and this is coming from her biased, loving older brother. They were a 3 out of 10 not in general but compared to those just in her age group. She was around 6 years old. Kim would draw ‘cars’ and they would look like random shapes smooshed together. As her doting older brother I would never tell her that her drawings were an eyesore (and they were). In fact I affirmed her and lied saying they were beautiful every time. I didn’t know at the time what was happening when I did so or the importance of praise in the confidence of a child in her formative years but the comments spurred her on to draw even more, and that in turn drew even more deceitful comments out of me…

One day my sister approached me years older than she was when she’d done her first drawing. “What do you think?” she asked. I glanced up from my work expecting to see a wonky car that looked like a block of lego. I was astonished to find that her drawing was not unsightly, it was downright impressive. “Did you draw this?” I asked incredulously. She simply nodded. Her artistic ability had flourished over time due to the practise she had put in. She then went on to tell me that she was grateful that I had affirmed her when she was young and incapable of drawing simple things well. She confessed that my praise had been the catapult to her drive to continue art. Today I am absolutely certain her art will adorn many a famous wall somewhere soon.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a post highlighting how awesome of a brother I am (even though I’m pretty dope as a brother LOL) but serves as an illustration that something that I always attributed as a talent, art, (which I was terrible at in high school), can be worked at. This sort of creativity can be practised! 

Time to get to work!

See you tomorrow for Creativity: The Day Dream.

 

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The Pit

Nobody likes the pit. It isn’t a pleasant place to be in, but when you look back more often than not you’ll have a different perspective of the pit. The pit isn’t always an intended destination, but it can turn out to be for your good. The pit is the place where despair and desperation marry, their union seeks to take control of your life and smother you with their baby, depression… if you overcome this trio however, the pit will be where your character is built and you develop the traits required for you to flourish when you achieve what was once thought impossible. If you let it, the pit will weed out all of your shortcomings and jumpstart your transformation to being that man or woman you aspire to be.

One of my favourite true stories involves a bragging annoying teenager who was loved by his father above all his many brothers. He was egotistical and vain and would often share what he envisioned himself becoming, demeaning his siblings in the process. What did they do when the favourite child’s pride became too much for them? They threw him into a pit and told their father that he’d gone missing. In the pit the arrogant teen’s pride was instantly stripped away, replaced by a deep appreciation of life and everything that he had and a realisation of the value of others. In the pit he stopped envisioning things falling into his laps and developed a mentality of discipline and hard work steeped in iron-wrought principles that would not bend under intense pressure. It was in the pit that the metamorphosis he needed for his visions to come true occurred and years later when he was promoted to be the most important man on earth, the pride he had prior did not destroy him. On top of that he went on to forge an unbreakable, genuinely positive bond with his siblings. The pit gave him humility and the ability to forgive. That guy was called Joseph.

So the next time you find yourself in the pit, a pit you could have fallen into because of your own ignorance or poor decisions; or one where you might just be a victim of circumstances, look up and grasp the image of the sky above knowing that…

the time in the pit could be what propels you way above the clouds, far beyond the stratosphere to leave you dancing among the stars.

This marks the conclusion to the Individuality series. I will definitely return here once I’ve completed reading ‘Slight Edge’ and implementing more of these techniques in my own life. See you tomorrow for the start of the Creativity series.

Meek Means Freedom

The meek shall inherit the Earth.

The quiet and gentle nature of those who are meek has been portrayed as weakness in this age. We have this not-so-hidden obsession to appear tough and overly confident – it’s what we are instructed to be by what we see on television and read in books. Vulnerability is frowned upon, almost taboo at times. We are led to believe that to embrace our freedom of expression and blast out whatever we want to say is right because that’s what liberty is – isn’t it? When I proclaim my opinion because “I know I’m right and if you disagree then that’s your wrong opinion” am I not doing right by those that gave me a voice? LOL. Check this out:

“Have you heard of the phrase “Empty vessels make the most noise”? It’s a proverb that means that those with the least talent and knowledge usually speak the most, speak the loudest, and create the most fuss — whatever makes their presence felt the most.”

By: https://personalexcellence.co/blog/empty-vessels/

The rest of the post is pretty outstanding too, I highly recommend you check it out.

Being meek is the opposite of the above. Meekness means you are willing to be quiet and listen sometimes. It means you are willing to be corrected and acknowledge that you don’t know everything. If you didn’t know it, believe it or not, you don’t know everything! Neither do I! The beauty of admitting this fact and laying down your pride is it puts you in the most optimal position for growth. You create a barrier to learning whenever you believe you know the wisdom or knowledge someone wants to impart before they even open their mouth. Pride incarcerates. It makes you unwilling to reach out for help when you need it. Every solution needs to come from self and I’m afraid unless you’re God, that isn’t happening. When you are prideful you are confined to the prison of what you know, unable to expand past the perimeter of your skull… but if you’re meek… if you’re meek you’re free.

Stay tuned for the conclusion to our Individuality series tomorrow: The Pit.

Standing Alone

I am sure we can all agree that this world is obsessed with quantity, especially in one’s social life. We are often bombarded by sometimes unuttered questions such as: How many followers do you have? How many likes did you get?

Do you know that those social media apps could die? Most will eventually. The likes that we seem to live or die for will not last forever. 

Just like Digg. Now you can read titles like this about the platform:

Screenshot 2019-04-06 at 21.32.36

The same goes for the endorsement we feel we need from certain peers in our social circles. People come and go in this life. C’est la vie. My challenge to you is be intentional about who you want to hang around for the long haul. Seek quality people to do life with you. However, if you don’t find a character suitable at this moment, please don’t settle! Stand alone and run your own race! The validation of others isn’t worth potentially violating your principles – and if you can’t stand alone, that is exactly what you will do. When the character that you decided to cleave to puts you in a position where you need to choose their pseudo-loyalty or a principle you have, if you can’t stand alone, you’ll violate it. And all that’s going to do is place you further away from the standard you want to reach. But if you have the wherewithal to go it alone in that situation who knows how far you’ll go.

At the peak of the steepest mountains there’s very rarely room for two.

See you tomorrow for Meek Means Freedom.

We Are Not In This Together

If you were a teen or younger during the late 2000s you probably know of the famous High School Musical song. It’s full of youthful enthusiasm and pubescent fever but if we’re honest with ourselves the message is errant. We are not in this together. Before you pick up your pitchforks I’ll let you know I’m not afraid of sharp objects… just please make sure the prongs aren’t rusty, tetanus ain’t pretty. Human beings need a social life – that’s a given, however the assumption that numbers = completion is mistaken. Each genuine relationship formed requires some form of investment. The word investment means ‘taking something out of you’. Unless you are a deity, the amount of ‘something’ you possess to give is limited. When that pressure makes you reach breaking point you’ll probably become stressed (coz that is what stress means).

Good news! You don’t get stressed by an investment that you know pays you back! I’m not saying do things for people because you know they will pay you back, but I am saying that you don’t want to prioritise people and place them on a pedestal with responsibilities and expectations they will not fulfil. Doing so opens you up to a world of hurt. My suggestion? Spend time analysing people’s characters assessing their traits and measuring them up to the traits you would want in a close friend. Come to the realisation that once you make a decision, you own it – therefore be ok with the consequences of the negative traits you choose to overlook. Then approach those quality people and let them know where you wanna place them in your hierarchy of life – when you are both in the know of what you expect from each other you become accountable for how you behave and you don’t experience the conflict of expectations and reality misaligned. What about those other people in your life that it wouldn’t be so wise to invest all of your time in? You can keep ’em as acquaintances.

See you tomorrow for ‘Standing Alone’.

Lying Is Good For You: Trumping Fear

If you have followed this blog for a while you’ll probably know this story. I used to sleep with the lights on. My hyperactive imagination and darkness went hand-in-hand like a lick of flame to a bale of dry hay draped in gasoline. However there came a time when I fell in love with novels and nothing in the world could compete. I would spend an untold amount of hours immersing myself in Fantasy or Sci-fi worlds and it was pretty awesome. My favourite time to read was late at night, because that’s when I had the least distractions; my homework was done and most people in the house were fast asleep. When my parents started questioning why I was so sleepy in the morning it didn’t take them long, with all the wisdom at their disposal, to realise that I was staying up late doing something. Soon enough they found out and eventually asked me to stop reading at night so I would be alert during lessons. Fair enough if you ask me. It was a super sensible decision – but did I mention I LOVED my novels? Coz I did. As the good kid I was I “obeyed”. Back then I had a tiny Nokia just a shade cooler than the 3310. It had a bluish-white background and a game of football (soccer) that I mastered at the highest level (yeah I know I’m amazing). That was my first and most fondly remembered phone. I got into the habit of switching off the light (this was how they would know I had actually gone to sleep) then turning on the torch on this thing whose battery is probably still going strong a decade after it was last charged. I would read my novels under the covers until I could read no more. This is how I read Stephenie Meyer’s ‘New Moon’ in 2 nights. I didn’t notice it at the time but through the power of love (for novels) I overcame my fear of sleeping with the light off. It is this power of love that is a powerful tool. Similar to yesterday’s post, you need to lie to yourself that you can’t access the thing you love until you overcome your fear. Overcoming your fear just for the sake of it is hard – but doing so for a reward you cherish? Totes doable.

See you tomorrow for Part 5 of the Individuality Series: We Are Not In This Together.

Lying Is Good For You: Building Habits

Starting a habit isn’t always easy. The proof is in the number of people who say they want to start a new habit who don’t actually end up doing so. Or maybe they’ll start but stop before it’s really become a habit.

Habit – a regular tendency that is hard to give up.

Lally’s study claims that it takes anywhere between 18 days to 254 days to form a new habit.

How can one actually achieve such a feat that requires an incredible amount of discipline? First of all we have to acknowledge that it is difficult to maintain something just because we see the benefit of it in the future. If you are one of those people that can do it by just intentionally making the decision, kudos to you! If you are like me then you have to use a different way. The good news is it works just as well. Here it is… it’s time to lie again!

There’s this story about a mouse that’s put in a cage. Scientists would ring a bell at a certain time and then put cheese in the cage. Over time the mouse associated the sound of the shrill bell with cheese and would come out of its little house when the bell was rung and wait, even if the cheese wasn’t forthcoming. The bell didn’t sound attractive but the cheese was attractive. Over time the mouse would come out for the bell because to it the bell = cheese. We’re not mice though so what can we do? We use the horse and carrot stick method.

Ie2uP

Looks ridiculous right? The carrot is the reward after you’ve done the hard work of doing whatever the new habit requires you to do. This way we associate the reward with the work. For example, I love movies! When we got back from a service on Sunday that’s the first thing that I wanted to do. Unfortunately for me, I lived with very wise, orderly parents who would have me do the dishes first (after we’d made and eaten breakfast) before watching any film. Doing the dishes was work. Watching the movie was the carrot. My love for movies was so strong that I would speed through the dishes to have my carrot – ahem – I mean watch my movie. You couldn’t motivate me to do the dishes because it wasn’t something I looked forward to, but because I looked forward to watching movies, the labour of doing the dishes was no longer as hard as it seemed initially. Over time I stopped doing it as an inconvenience and started viewing it as a sort of key, a key to me watching the movies that I wanted to watch on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve used this same trick to exercise daily, write more consistently and to drink enough water each day – all things I never used to do.

So what are the practical bits you can use for you. The only thing you need to do is to make a list of the things you love. Lie to yourself until you believe that you can’t do one of those things until you’ve actioned out the habit you’re trying to build, then reward yourself with the thing you love at the end – and repeat. Make sense?

A short real-life illustration of the effectiveness of this technique:

Mom: Where are you?

Me: I’m in the kitchen. I’ve just started doing the dishes.

Mom: We’ve started watching a movie, come watch with us – you can do the dishes after.

Me: I don’t like doing dishes well after we’ve eaten. I’ll finish up fast then come watch when I’m done.

True story.

I’m a dish dog now!

See you tomorrow for Lying Is Good For You: Trumping Fear.

 

 

Lying Is Good For You

Lying is good for you! Yup you heard that right. So what does that even mean? I’m not telling you to practise perjury if you’re a lawyer or to hide evidence if you’re a cop. I’m not advising you to commit fraud or not pay taxes. I am saying you have got to lie, every single day of your life. That’s going to set you free from mental prisons, transforming you from the chicken you’ve been told you are to the eagle you were always meant to be.

Let me elaborate on what I mean. The world has given us a series of truths that have already seeped into the recesses of our minds and in most cases have shaped our view of self. You may have been branded as unintelligent, unwise, ugly, terrible at communicating and relegated to a place or position you think (or formerly thought) you don’t belong to. Allow these words to build up and be the only thing you listen to then you’ll believe them to be truth. Do you know why the words hurt you so? It’s because you’ve believed them to be the truth. If you know you are intelligent even your professor can’t make you think otherwise. If you know you are a success you won’t entertain being told you are a disappointment. If you know you are beautiful even Ms. Universe can’t put you down. But how do you know something when it isn’t ‘the truth’ based on what you hear? Simple. You lie… everyday. Tell a lie enough times – you’ll eventually believe it.

Unfortunately your way of thinking is an ensemble of the information you receive. You are bound to hear negative things daily – social media is the bullhorn of negativity. I know not everyone can extricate themselves from it like I’ve done. But you need to come up with a way to hear the ‘lie’ you want more than you hear ‘the truth’ of the world. Enter affirmations and confessions.

Daily speak the things you want. ‘Lie’ and affirm yourself with the traits you desire that you are told you don’t have. Say these things often enough to overshadow ‘the truth’ of this world.

If you can’t switch off or drown out the outside noise, pump up the volume of what you say to yourself within.

If you don’t think you can do that, find a good friend of yours to do it on your behalf. If you can’t even ask them to do that for you maybe check your friendships. I’ll talk about how to pinpoint the right friends on Friday in ‘We Are Not In This Together’.

Below are some confessions you can try out that may change your life:

I am intelligent, wise, focussed, driven, patient, creative, organised and a solution provider – I am mentally strong.

I am confident, outspoken, friendly, honest, great at listening and open-minded – I am a great communicator.

I am beautiful, handsome, kind, healthy, composed, courageous, humble, loving and loved – I am enough.

I am strong, enthusiastic, charismatic, patient, trustworthy, a role model, authentic, a visionary – I am a leader.

Add whatever you need to that list and ‘lie’ till that’s all you know!

I challenge you to test the contents of this post to see if they work or not.

See you tomorrow for part 2 of Lying Is Good For You:  Building Habits.

Singleness Is Underrated

Am I going to be endorsing debauchery in this post? Not one bit. However if you are looking for encouragement and advice in the single phase of your life, carry on, you are most welcome.

Before I enter into why the phase of singleness can be a crucially beneficial time of your life I would like to quash some world notions on the ‘benefits’ of being single. Yes I’m going to sound like a preacher when I denounce couldn’t-care-less relationships, casual sex and nights spent bent over ceramic chambers, but if you are honest with yourself you’ll realise that the aforementioned activities don’t do your physical wellbeing or mental health any favours. Are all these activities fun? They wouldn’t be temptations if they weren’t… but they are bad for you and most likely you don’t need to look deep down to know it. The good news is I’m not here to condemn you but to affirm you! We all have the gift of free will. You aren’t bound to certain actions or habits forever. Today I would like to introduce two terms that will help and will pop up a lot in this ‘Individuality’ series:

  1. Intentionality – living a life of deliberation, without constantly stumbling into things
  2. Plasticine brain – the ability of the brain to change throughout life

Life has prime stages for explosive growth. Singleness is one of them. Another stage is called ‘the Pit’ which I’ll refer to later this week.

When you’re single and intentional in your singleness, you’re in the best time to learn about yourself, the best time to figure out what you enjoy and what you are good at. Often in this chapter of your life you have one major responsibility, yourself, meaning you have more time as you have less people to be responsible over. What can you use this time for? More learning and setting yourself up for whatever your metric of success is. This is achieved first of all by coming up with a metric of success. This is vital. How can you hit the target when you don’t know what you are supposed to be aiming for? In this period explore by reading books, learning languages, travelling, building healthy habits, working to delete bad habits, learning organisation, studying people and coming up with the traits of the person you would want to be with once the phase is over.

I’d like to challenge a fallacy that we let ourselves be deceived by far too often. How many people have you heard say these words, “I wish I had known this when I was younger?” Or “I wish I had known this before I got into the relationship?”. We lie and say we’ll pick up the behaviours we need when we need them. Learning all the above once this singleness phase has passed is possible; it’s much more difficult but it’s possible, it’s why we have plasticine brains – but why would you want to grow a plant in the dry season when you can do so in the rainy season? The friction of embarking on a discovery of self when you have several more responsibilities is incredibly grating.

Lastly we have plasticine brains, which means the old ways of thinking don’t need to be the ways of thinking forever. It means we can learn new things. However it takes significantly more effort to unlearn things than it does to build new habits. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking I’ll do these things now then stop when I’m in a serious relationship or when I reach 30, 40 or 50. You’re setting yourself up to fail and to eventually drown in depression.

Conflict rises when expectations and reality don’t align. Internal conflict leads to stress and prolonged stress may lead to depression. So I’ll help you out a bit and be a bit harsh when I say:

Don’t expect the bad habits you’re cultivating now to instantly disappear when you want them to. Instead be intentional today about what habits you want to build in this crucial period of your time.

Cherish your singleness and grow baby, grow! It may be hard, that’s cool, I’ve got tips to help you do just that starting with tomorrow’s post: ‘Lying Is Good For You’.

P.S. Thank you all for helping this blog reach 100 followers! Onwards and upwards. Be blessed.

 

Living the Standard Life

Now we know to appreciate my traits as an individual and to be grateful for others’ gifts and talents. We know too that we shouldn’t compare myself with my neighbour or it will cause us unnecessary, unwanted stress. Our neighbour is our neighbour and we are ourself. Yet we’ve also learned that we can learn certain good traits from them, observe and apply what we’ve seen to add to ourself so we can be a better version of ourself according to a personal ideal. Today I want to address that concept of an ideal self – also known as a standard.

If you read all the posts I’ve written in the last week in the worst possible context you would probably come out with the conclusion that you are perfect as you are and don’t require change. As the author of the posts I’ll let you know that wasn’t my intention. You are wonderful and you should not allow yourself to be stressed out or condemn yourself for past actions or undesirable traits you possess. Instead, come to an appreciation of who you are and develop an ideal that will spur you on to achieve personal growth. If your goal was to become the world’s best assassin, look at information about assassins, compile a list of the traits that you want to attain and start planning practical methods you can practise to achieve that dream. If you check the name of this blog you’ll know I don’t advocate for such I just wanted to choose an example that you probably haven’t encountered this month.

Christians look to Jesus as an ideal. Believer or not, it makes a lot of sense as he preached and practised loving one’s neighbour as one loves oneself. That statement alone is an ideal that one can live up to for the rest of their life. If you aren’t a very loving person and decide to live by this ideal, you’ll be forced to develop loving attributes. The same applies if your ideal is an incredibly hard worker, an avid reader or a world-renowned communicator. Having an ideal that is or was a real life person is good in that you know it is achievable. It is also limiting in that person may have had traits that you would not like to associate with (they are human after all) and that may stunt your belief in the great traits they have. In comes the idea of ‘ideal agglomeration’ where you come up with a mishmash of traits from people you would consider role models in the areas of life you want to be exceptional in. This is the next level of what we have been talking about. This becomes your ‘Life Standard’ and is something you move towards all your life. It should seem almost impossible to achieve so that you keep growing. If you achieve the landmarks, well done and keep going… maybe  you too will be someone’s ideal role model for something and in that you would have impacted their life positively. That’s what this page is all about.

With that we conclude that comparison series. Tomorrow we enter into the series ‘Individuality’ starting with ‘Singleness Is Underrated’.