Posts Tagged Happiness
Some Facebook friends were reminiscing recently about the pre-personal computer era with some fondness. Most baby boomers are well acquainted with typewriters, mimeos, fax machines – old tech. Frankly, I do not share the nostalgic feeling these relics evoke. I adore cut & paste, spell check, HTML. PHP, research on-line – and the absence of rubber cement, white-out, waxers, rubylith and all the mess design used to entail.
I love my computer and the instant gratification it provides – my designs, in color and live on the web; my writing, in print not just ‘typewritten,’ as well as the benefit of near-instant communication with anyone anywhere. Am I a social media junkie? Not exactly. As a designer, I spend a lot of time with Adobe products. I write, so, therefore, I am an information junkie. Distraction by tweets and posts happen occasionally, but not obsessively.
If I miss anything about the low-tech era, it would be the physical separation from these tools. I rarely have a day that I do not turn on my computer. Whether working or not, email, Facebook, and Twitter feeds at worse, are glanced at. A note is sent, a show watched, a post commented on, a game played perhaps. Not too long ago, technology was left at work or in the home office for ‘work hours.’ My extracurricular tools were pencil and paper or a camera – nothing that connected me to an entirely different realm. Time with technology was scheduled into life, not something my life revolved around.
Having opportunities to be unplugged has shown me how important scheduling computer time into my life is rather than just having that tool available 24/7. Being disconnected – on a trip to Haiti; during Super Storm Sandy; on a sudden trip to visit a hospitalized relative in another state, for example – showed me another state of being present which I’d lost somewhere along the way. The urgency to read, to post, to connect, slipped away, slowly, but the freedom was refreshing. I was more eager to connect with (real) people. I did not have to share, Google stuff, or keep up with training videos. And best thing – I could still write and draw with some lovely low tech tools.
Now, I have one computer-free day a week. I don’t even have the urge to check my email. If I want to share, I make a phone call, instead of tweeting. Now, I schedule personal social media time, during my work day, time instead of always just being on-line and available. The noise of the web is minimized, controlled, and not as important as it once seemed. My head is clearer and I feel more focused. I’ve even begun to leave my phone at home – much to the amazement of the (much younger) people with whom I work.
It’s true that technology has made life a lot easier, but I lost sight of how important it had become. My tech-free day helps me keep life and relationships in perspective and that’s a good thing for someone who works at home. On a computer. All day.
As I was getting ready click the publish button on this note, I noticed that Lois Alter Mark of StyleSubstanceSoul.com posted a video that expresses the joy of a tech-free life. And I get it, I really do. Could the marketer and writer in me let go this much? Very tempting, as Lois commented. Very tempting.
It dismays me every time I see that I’ve let so much time pass since my last post. No, it doesn’t bother me to admit that because just like everyone else, my forehead is emblazoned with the words “work in progress.” Here’s what has been on my mind (and plate) lately. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the idea of uncertainty and creativity for dual reasons – I’m giving my first seminar on creativity at the end of the month and I’ve been rereading Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields.
I do a lot of encouraging or coaching (as is might be termed by some) and I’ve noticed that handling uncertainty is an ability that a lot of artists do not possess. When faced with doubts or fears, I’ve seen artists push themselves forward to success, or self-sabotage, or choose a path that will ensure them the least amount of pain during the process of creation. In recovery, I’ve learned that this is training we should have had as children – to deal with the uncertainty of outcomes in a healthy manner. Not that I’m suggesting that all artists or writers are recovering from some ‘ism,’ but that’s always a healthy avenue to investigate if you find yourself constantly short-changing your creative process to stop the pain.
What’s this pain; this uncertainty about? Fields asserts (and I agree) that the double nature of uncertainty is the fear of what the outcome will be and how the outcome will be perceived (judged.) Like most artists, I realize the fear signals the foothold of what could be a fantastic idea – an idea worth exploring or an opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up because the experience will be invaluable. It’s what we choose to do as the pain creeps into our psyche that will determine the depth of the creative process.
Fields details an experiment where subjects were asked to choose a ball from one of two urns. Urn #1 is filled with 100 balls – 50 black and 50 white. Urn #2 also contains 100 balls but the percentage of which is black or white is unknown. The subjects had to bet $100 on a color of their choice. Then they had to choose which urn to pick from. Can you guess which most people chose? Even though neither configuration had a mathematical or logical advantage, the majority of the subjects choose the first urn.
Because pain is uncomfortable and our fight or flight instinct usually prompts us to flight, most people will choose the path of ‘constraint.’ They stop exploring, close off options and create rules, look for systems and processes to justify their choices because of their aversion to the unknown and to being judged. At that point the adapting, testing, and experimenting and evolving is over. Continuing in the uncertainty, on the other hand, can lead to heightened creativity and a level of creative options that would otherwise not have been seen.
Sounds logical, right? But as I constantly ask my therapist – what do I do with all these feelings? (now that I’m not stuffing them, eating them, and denying them.) He says – just feel them. As crappy as uncertainty, fear, and anxiety feels – feel them and keep on creating. It’s okay not to know or be able to predict exactly how things will turn out. It’s very uncomfortable at first but it’s a worthwhile pursuit because what we live out in our creative processes, we also live out in our personal lives. What benefits one will benefit the other. Push through, work through the pain, and be amazed at what you produce.
How have you dealt with uncertainty in your life and your creative process lately?
©2012 Carolyn Moore
Sitting at my desk, as the Northeastern autumn dump melted around me, sipping orange spice, I thought about what really makes me happy. The last few weeks have been filled with a blur of new information and potential. I spent last weekend with 450 women searching for revelation about their lives; a pathway to peace; an opportunity to hear what God is longing to share with them about their destinies –a venue to in which to grow. Earlier this week I spoke with several potential colleagues about an interesting job opportunity – unexpected, yes, but the timing is impeccable. This weekend overflowed with fellowship – nothing is quite like extended time with friends who know how to encourage you and speak the absolute truth when you really need it.
So what does this all have to do with happiness? A new friend recently wrote a thoughtful piece about the crossroads in life and how he had come to one, or rather, another one, in his life. He commented that he envied people who seemed to make life-changing choices by instinct rather than struggling to let go and make a choice to move on or stay. Considering this, I reflected on the past year and the painful choices I’d had to make. It was difficult to let go of a dream, of expectations, of promises, but the hesitation to ‘move’ or make a decision is often about the discomfort there is in change rather than the inability to decide. In my life, I find that when I’m stuck in that holding pattern, so to speak, eventually a catalyst of some sort will present itself and then I am forced to make the decision I wanted to make all along.
Once I moved, so many possibilities presented themselves it was almost overwhelming. That said, choosing a path does not solve all the problems or answer all questions. Nothing is ever that straightforward and choosing is just the beginning of the work. Through the hard work – answering the uncomfortable questions about how our lives are lived and who we are, choosing the healing over sickness – flows the happiness, the peace, and the genuine connection with inner selves and others.
Reflection does have its pitfalls. Chatting with a close friend on the subject, he questioned how I would be handling this new crossroad in my life. Really, I thought, what on earth was he talking about? Things were progressing swimmingly. I had never been happier in my life! I’d survived an unpleasant divorce, a career change, and a severe financial crisis this year. He was obliged to point out several looming issues that needed attention and I begrudgingly agreed with his assessment. I guess there will be more work after all. The crossroads were starting to look more like navigating the rapids of class IV river.
So what really makes me happy? That is where I began after all. Possibilities, potential, not living on auto-pilot between the ‘crossroads’ but living intentionally and doing the hard work, being honest about what makes me happy and the values that make me who I am. It’s not the easy way to go, but embracing the crossroads – stretching emotionally – will offer an opportunity for greater peace and happiness.
For another view on the crossroads in life @ www.prestonehrler.com, “Letting Go, To Move On.”