For years, I completely misunderstood the concept of creative living (which probably explains why I struggled so much with it). If you would have asked me this question ten years ago I would have explained that someone who lives creatively expresses him/herself through some artistic medium – writing, painting, drawing, music, cooking, needlework, flower arranging, etc. Blah, blah, blah.
It might sound good on the surface, but this definition is way too narrow and just kind of misses the mark. For one thing, it excludes the vast majority of people (myself included) who haven’t devoted our lives to the arts because we’re working a full time job, raising children or juggling any of the other balls we might have in the air at any given moment. It often frustrated me to think that I had missed my chance and that a creative life was off-limits to me because of some of the choices I’d made.
My big “aha” moment came recently, when I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book, Big Magic (which I HIGHLY recommend!). Gilbert has an entire chapter which explores this question of what does it mean to live a creative life? She states: “…when I refer to ‘creative living’ I am speaking more broadly. I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear…A creative life is an amplified life.”
What I love about Gilbert’s definition is that it makes creative living available to all of us – even those of us who are not actively, professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts. It, essentially, tells us that if we want to live a creative life, all we need to do is manage our fear and allow our curiosities and desires to guide our choices. That is a tall order, to be sure, but it’s far more empowering than the belief that creative living is limited only to those who (1) possess some sort of innate artistic talent and (2) actively utilize that talent in their everyday lives.
Gilbert goes on to explain that “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels – that’s creative living.”
Now, there’s the blessing and the challenge – the blessing is that yes, we are ALL born with gifts to share, but the challenge is having the courage and commitment to live our life in a way that allows us to find and explore those gifts. In other words, we must “shush” our fears (some of us must do this, practically, on a minute by minute basis!?) and follow that small voice within us that says, “What if?” or “That looks fun!” or “Maybe I can.”
How do we know if we’re on the right track and getting closer to uncovering one of our ‘jewels’? Quite simply, it feels good. It brings us pleasure. We want more. When we experience that feeling, we must remind ourselves to lean into it and continue doing whatever we’re doing. When what we’re doing doesn’t feel good and bring us pleasure, let it go and explore something else. It’s that simple. And THAT, according to Elizabeth Gilbert, is creative living!
So, I offer you a little Wellegant assignment this week: Do one thing that satisfies a curiosity of yours and brings you pleasure, even if fear is telling you to “stop” or that “you can’t.” Wear the bright red lipstick. Cook the Boeuf Bourguignon. Buy the bikini. Sign up for salsa dancing classes. Commit to making just one choice this week that is guided by your curiosity and not your fears. My belief is that this one courageous choice will lead you to another and another and another, setting you on the path to your most creative, most Wellegant life.
Knock ‘em dead! And please post a comment below so that we can all celebrate your success with you!
Have a beautiful weekend, my friends!
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