There are moments in life when you feel so changed, so inspired, and so….full of emotion that all your pretenses, your excuses, hesitations and fears fall away. Like the fact that I haven’t written in over a year. Poof. Gone…because today was just too awesome.
My amazing job offers me the opportunity to travel around the US and the world attending conferences that expand my skills as a teacher and as a human being. They make me better at life. On countless occasions I have felt inspired and moved and awed and humbled and today is one such occasion. So here I am at the Learning and the Brain Conference in San Francisco (!!!), bounding back on the scene because I just need to capture this outpouring of thoughts and because a simple blank white word document is just not going to cut it right now. And because I know that you will appreciate, relate, and encourage these ruminations.
So here’s what I learned today:
Session 1: There is a strong correlation between mental illness or mood disorders and creative geniuses. Writers, artists, scientists all fall into this category. Einstein, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Van Gogh. All game changers in their field, all some amount of cray cray.
As an aspiring writer…someone who feels, in her core, that this is where I NEED to be, this is somewhat disturbing. I spoke with the presenter afterwards and asked her if I could hope to be as influential as they were she basically said no. Not kidding. I will not lie, I felt like I was back in high school when my science teacher refused to write me a recommendation for a college because he didn’t think it was worth it - I wouldn’t get into that school anyway. I have since then learned to take others opinions with a grain of salt (or not take them period) and to rely on my own internal indicators to guide me along my path. Whatever path that maybe, and however that path may define success. My internal indicator has yet to fail me, demean me, or make me feel even a few cents less than a million bucks (billion in today’s day?).
There is a lot more to discuss here, so I will devote another post to this (right now I’m aiming at one a month).
Session 2: You’re already creative, silly. Here are few strategies to keep it going, particularly in your classroom.
Talk about a mood change. I went from trying to convince myself I was suicidal so that I would have the self-esteem needed to write a book to feeling a sense of relief that I was not putting myself or my students in any imminent danger by teaching them techniques on being creative.
She had some good strategies for any of you who want to bring this to your workplace, classroom, life:
1. Reframe your question. Then look for solutions.
Instead of asking “How many ideas can we think of for Rick’s birthday party?” See what happens when you ask “How many ideas can we think of to celebrate Rick’s birthday?”
See what happens? A whole new lot of possibilities opens up. We didn’t even realize we boxed ourselves in!
Ping moment: that’s exactly what jokes do. They reframe the question! So all you haters out there who want to knock my jokes…turns out I’m doing you a favor by helping you be more creative. Hmph!
2. Connect and Combine. Put things together that you never would have.
Or, check out the caption contest on the New Yorker’s cartoons. Put things together that don’t “belong” and you’ll find ways to make them belong. It’s genius.
3. Challenge the assumptions. Basically, don’t be lazy and take the first solution that comes to mind. Force yourself to think of an absurd number of solutions. Like 500 flavors of ice cream. Ready? Go!
Now that you are back from your list making…
Session 3: In order to foster creativity, you need to be happy. How can you be happy? Demonstrate gratitude.
And herein lies the game changer for me. This is the second, hang-on-just-a-minute-because-my-life-just-changed-a-paradigm-just-shifted moment I’ve had this year. Talk about a blessed 2013.
What are the skills required to be grateful?
1. Positive self-talk. Check out this video of Jessica on YouTube.
This girl knows what’s up.
2. Being able to identify things you are grateful for. Not just material things, but things that you are blessed to encounter - people, nature, etc. Things you are genuinely grateful to have. Not forks and spoons on the table. Things that mean something to you.
3. Being able to express out loud, and to someone else what you are grateful for.
The speaker mentioned that a lot of people have trouble with this. I think to myself psh I always think about how lucky I am. I’m totally grateful. But then she said, a lot of people get really uncomfortable sharing this with other people. They feel awkward or they feel too cool, too elite, educated, cynical, jaded, worldly. Any number of things that makes it difficult for them to say thank you.
And guess what? I feel like she was talking about me. I get a little embarrassed. I feel like its mushy. People need to relax on all the love and thank yous. Get a life. etc. etc.
But I realized when I was listening to her, that that is ME. And I have a problem with that. I feel like the people who are able to say thank you easily and with confidence have a different type of happiness, they are of better service to the people and the world around them. They are TRUE forces of positivity.
I want to BE that person. Unashamedly happy, giving, loving person.
Welcome goal of 2013. Welcome :)
In London I made a habit of chasing my fears, actively putting myself in situations that made me uncomfortable. Like blogging, performing spoken word, going to dance classes.
Here, I’ve lost that drive a little, been too wrapped up in work and life. And yet, my new mission has found me.
Time to chase the embarrassment and fear of being seen as uncool and awkward associated with being unashamedly happy, positive, loving, and giving.
Key word: Unashamedly.
What a great, great way to start this 29th year of my life.
Time to bounce for now. Here are some great ideas I wrote down that I will be incorporating. Stay tuned! Even if it just one of you that is tuning in. Or none :)
Some GREAT ideas:
- 365 grateful project (I am totally doing this!!!)
- texting what you’re grateful for (AD and I used to do this!)
- “one mistake i made today” (get it out, let others see that its okay, and think through what you can do to not have that happen again. will be a great story later to laugh at)