Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Are You Looking For The Wrong Thing In Life? How to Get Back on Track to What You Love

The Great Timble Chase: Find What You Love Most

If you do not know what to do, what your purpose in life is, or where to go from here . . . play the thimble game. Is it hot? or cold? Am I getting warmer?

What parts of the day do you have the most energy? when are you most creative? what are you doing? and who are you with?

If you have no idea of what makes you happy, start to pay attention to your body's reactions. It is the best compass you have. Try to remember when you were most happy. How did you feel? What is your body doing? Re-live that moment and take note of what your body is doing. On the surface it is probably registering simple things like smiling, or shoulders relaxing. And on the inside, you feel competent, grateful, or a sense of energy.

If you still have no idea of what you like to do or what your purpose is, I'm sure you can tell what you don't like to do. Can you recall a job, or task, or being around people you don't feel comfortable with? Your body will do it's best to sabotage you to get you out of the situation. You suddenly can't recall your co-worker's name or you forget to attach that file or you start bumbling like a social idiot. (For me, my stomach tightens up, my throat gets dry, and I would have huge blocks around people's names. This is my cue to exit and do more of the things that make me happy - like painting with Monkey and friends). Take notice of these things. In circumstances that impacts you negatively, you body will try to do everything it can except for that job or be with that company of people.

With that said, there will be moments when you will be faced by positive challenges, but your body will react with similar cues and social ills. Be aware of the subtle difference. The slight difference? On one hand, the task or people that are major negative blows to your life: you absolutely don't want to be there, you feel like dirt, and you would rather disappear through the floor. On the other hand when you encounter the scary, but positive new challenge: you will be scared, but the thought of doing that task still thrills you and if you had the courage (which you do), you honestly want to take that next step. For example, proposing marriage is damn scary or moving to a new city to pursue your dream job is too, but the very thought of ultimately accomplishing that task fills you with excitement and passion. Not everything "uncomfortable" is bad for you, but you'll want to avoid the things that impact your creativity in an uncompromisingly negative way. (Meaning, that there is no payoff in being there at all and in fact, it just hurts you).

"But how can I completely avoid everything I hate doing and only do what I love?" you ask. As we're building and flexing our body's compass power and moving more towards what we love to do. . . yes, there will still be times when you "must" do things or be around people you don't necessary like. In these circumstances, try to think if being there will get you closer to your ultimate creative goal. Is there still a payoff for being there?

There might be days as artists when we have to take on projects, day jobs, and be around people that are not our ideals. But does this day job get us closer to our goals? Does it provide us with the capital to buy art supplies and free weekends and nights to pursue our art (without worrying about rent) while we move closer to embracing creativity full-time? Does the job (you hate?) provide structure and feeling of competence through repeated actions during the day as opposed to the frenzied chaos of creating something completely new for each canvas? (Can you think: "I am thankful for this job because . . . " it provides me with a roof over my head. Or I don't like the people, but I'm learning a lot. Or I hate everything else, but my co-workers are great. If you don't come up with anything at all to be thankful about, quit and find a new one.)

For most artists, we are often torn in our either-or thinking (more about this in a later post). We think all or nothing. Day job or dream job. That's it. So "any compromise is short of perfection," and therefore we have "failed as artists." This limited thinking is harmful to your life's options and creative endeavors.

If you were given all the freedom in the world to just create - you'll get bored - and your art becomes your day job. Human beings need structure and balance. So yes, there will be times you must deal. But as you deal with present circumstances, keep reminding yourself, that this is only just a stepping stone, a transition, a resting stop, you have bigger vegan fish to fry and creative goals in mind and for that you must continually move towards the thimble. Keep playing the thimble game: find activities and people that are (hot!) in line with who you are and your creative life. Eventually, you'll move completely only towards things you love: you'll be surrounded by people you love, who love you back, and you'll be doing the things that make you absolutely happy. All the time. Isn't that worth searching for? Isn't it worth fighting for?

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