Categories
Creativity Productivity & Work

“Creativity is like breathing”

A friend once told me that creativity is like breathing. When you make stuff, you’re exhaling. But you can’t exhale forever. Eventually, you have to breathe in. Or you’ll be dead.

Matthew Inman, Cartoonist

The more you make, the more you have to play with. But the creativity flame burns out too.

Don’t be afraid to step away every once in a while to go on vacation or read a book, whatever gets you out of your own head.

It’s ok to break up the consistency.

PS. Never worry about breaking the chain — if you learn to rest, creativity always comes back.

Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal

Categories
Life & Philosophy Psychology Science

Information is the sum of parts

The brain is just a collection of tangled wires with neuron connectivity levels. We call its output ‘information’ because we need some way of describing chemical synchronicity.

The computer works the same way.

On the inside, it’s a collection of chips and wires with various voltage levels. What we see on screen is what we label as information.

Information is the same name we give to brain chemicals and computer voltage to describe the organized chaos.

The squalor is why it works.

Categories
Productivity & Work

The structured procrastination strategy

The biggest trick about email is that it gives you the feeling you’ve done something. Every time you open an email, your head lights up like a Christmas tree.

Can you imagine sitting outside your snail mail mailbox and opening it up twenty times a day? What a waste of time!

Running on the dopamine trail disrupts your productivity.

What you could do instead is structure your procrastination so you get other stuff done. The father of structured procrastination is Stanford professor John Perry, author of The Art of Procrastination. He writes:

All procrastinators put off things they have to do. Structured procrastination is the art of making this bad trait work for you. The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it.

John Perry
The structured procrastination strategy

Repeat: Procrastination does not mean doing nothing

Don’t beat yourself up for avoiding things at the top of the list. Chew on them while you go to work on something else. It’s the overthinking and doing nothing that tears you apart.

Note that staying busy does not mean checking Facebook. Social networks and their variable rewards are even more addicting than email.

Keep in mind that you’ll have to put your ass in the chair and dance with the anxiety at some point. If you don’t do the work, you simply don’t care enough.

Procrastinators can be finishers. Until then, reframe procrastination by doing important smaller things.

Categories
Life & Philosophy

Navigating tension

gif by @boglio

Some amount of tension is healthy.

The ability to hold two opposing ideas simultaneously often yields a new idea, containing elements of each.

The tension between art and commerce encourages a blend of innovation that prevents the pitfalls of being tied to labor. We are not our jobs, no matter how tied employment is to identity.

Toggling between effort and acceptance unlocks a more dynamic human. Like a hand plunged into cold water, our fingerprints express themselves at unbending stiffness.

The synthesis of oppositional forces compels one to navigate perceived strain, ensuring that the odds help form a new, superior whole.

Self-control is the centerpiece that gives us a shot at generating a creative resolution toward embracing the dialectic.

Categories
Life & Philosophy

In search of novelty

Everything is exciting in the beginning. But maintaining the ‘beginner’s mind’ is a Herculean task.

Disinterest arises with routine, which fires the same tedious neural pathways again and again.

Unless we can reframe the problem, stuckness can be both frustrating and annoying.

We crave new challenges.

Novelty blends both excitement and anticipation, determinants in the pursuit.

Always on, always learning — we plant the seeds of progress while taking the long view toward growth.

Categories
Life & Philosophy

Continual uncertainty

Uncertainty begs for attention. Anxiety thrives off inaction.

Born naked, we get sucked into the vortex of other peoples expectations.

Rather, we must learn how to follow our intuition and embrace the unknown.

There’s nothing wrong with abstraction. The goal should be to resolve tension by amplifying it.

Once we numb the fear, we ultimately let go and tread where we need to.

Uncertainty is the central component of success.

Categories
Arts Life & Philosophy

The magic double-consciousness

The confluence of attention and boredom is vital to creativity.

Attention works like a gate, opening and closing at the will of perception.

We snatch what we aim for. The photographer’s eye spots patterns the same way a poet finds beauty in the mundane.

Yet, boredom offers a gateway to mind wandering. The empty mind is a trigger for connecting the disconnected, kickstarting the imagination, and firing up the ability to notice novelty in the driest of places.

The mind zig-zags between concerted effort and pause in the attempt to pick up more knowledge. Emphasizing attention over boredom over the other negates their impact. Sometimes, one has to let go to grow.

Just as we try to float, we sink. Active control requires the opposite: a calm and disengaged discipline.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Nature

A barometer of aliveness

Consciousness — “I think therefore I exist” — is not a prerequisite for aliveness.

The non-thinking plant is still very much breathing and communicating with its brethren through an interconnectivity of roots.

Meanwhile, the overly conscious octopus contains a half a billion neurons in its arms which allow the tentacles to function independently from its nine brains.

Programmed robots, aped after humans, may develop mentally but remain devoid of physical life.

Many humans, herd-following automatons in their own right, die with the music still in them.

The barometer of aliveness depends on how dead one feels, appears, and grows.

All things were once plankton. Now, a fish out of water — some of us are lucky enough to evolve like a baby caterpillar into a restless butterfly. 

Categories
Culture Life & Philosophy Tech

Let go to grow

The internet is a thing of convenience.

Now that we’re all stuck in our cubby holes, we may think it makes sense to over connect with our peers.

But sometimes we have to step away and ‘let go to grow.’

So we pick up new hobby horses. Instead of tweeting, we send a hand written note to an old high school buddy.

When we hurry slowly, the birds outside grow a little louder and appear more beautiful. Nature calms us down and resets our noticing engines.

Let go to grow

Technology compels us to hustle. And while it helps push things along, what we see is that overdrive makes us blind.

Minds are fragile to begin with. And while they be plastic, there’s a limit on the number of neurons we can grow. The web will always be more infinite and exhausting.

Life is connected to many things we can’t see and in ways we are just starting to understand.

We don’t have to strive to be always on. Instead, we bask in the incomplete.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Writing

The streak goes on

Writing can be a painful activity. The idea of thinking and starting from scratch every day frightens the muse.

But just as exercise, the trick is in getting started.

Knowing that we’re not always propelled by the underground voltage of curiosity and enthusiasm, we have to depend on a non-thinking routine.

Showing up to practice is what puts the bones in our words.

Swimming in impulses and doubt — remembering the possibility of revision helps tame the symphony of perfection.

Relaxed in process, mixing words into a jigsaw puzzle of sentences, we hold material and belief more firmly.

We finish another day, until the brain strains for another run tomorrow. Addicted to vocation, flush with anxiety, we numb all feelings with adamant flow.

The streak goes on.