What you love to think about, dream about, speak about, learn about and create about is your genius. Don’t water down your natural style or contort yourself into some idealized version of who you think you should be. The impulses that come from deep within are your guide track to greatness. We want you as is.Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
One of the main benefits of walking in nature is that trees inspire feelings of awe. According to research done by psychology professor Dacher Keltner at UC Berkeley, awe benefits not only the mind and body but also improves our social connections and makes us kinder.
Spending time outside is also vital as a destressor. One study found that camping gets the stress hormone cortisol back under control. Even sitting near trees at the office help calm us down with “softly fascinating stimulation.”
Nature is a higher power
Knowing how little we stand in a swathe of gigantic trees also puts life in perspective. Wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay Nature:
“Standing on the bare ground, my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space, all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God.”
Nature soothes the sense of self. It reminds us that we are less significant we are, and that fact may make us happier we're here.
“Does the sun ask itself, ‘Am I good? Am I worthwhile? Is there enough of me?' No, it burns and it shines. Does the sun ask itself, ‘What does the moon think of me? How does Mars feel about me today?' No it burns, it shines. Does the sun ask itself, ‘Am I as big as other suns in other galaxies?' No, it burns, it shines.”
— Andrea Dworkin, Ice and Fire
Don't compete. Make things.
When we compare ourselves to other, we get detached from ourselves.
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”
[easyazon_link identifier=”0486277909″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]Self-Reliance[/easyazon_link] by Ralph Waldo Emerson
To echo Jeff Bezos, be prepared to be misunderstood for a long period of time.
When they asked all graduating seniors to record their favorite quote for the high school yearbook, I pulled one from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
Even at that moment, I refused to conform. The irony, of course, is that I used a quote to help express myself.
I still have a love/hate relationship with quotes. They are first and foremost someone else's thoughts, and while they can motivate us, even relieve us, and sum up how we think, they can often be as cheesy as Pinterest. They make words look trapped in between a prison of quotation marks.
“Quotation marks” de-energize quotes, just as much as using them as substitutes for our own thinking de-individualizes us. Call it cynical, but we're living in the Internet era–the world's greatest copy-past machine– where everything can be reduced to a shared tautology.
What if, instead, we listened to ourselves rather than allowing others to validated our neuroses. Quotes are merely thought starters; even children like to originate their own opinion.
Tempus fugit. Time flies. But that's because we allow technology to accelerate it.
When we speed through life as we scroll through our Instagram feeds, seeing everything as “pictures on a wall,” we don't remember much. We get caught in looking at the rapidity of impressions rather than engaging in real wonders. We see the world like a rolling film, and any pause causes a fight with intolerable boredom.
The rush to speed through life and accomplish all our goals in quick succession is the fastest way to reach “the annihilation of space by time.” But if we walk and slow down, we can catch the everyday moments in between. Slowness is what stimulates.
Technology flattens time and our expectations along with it. We expect everything to be instantly digestible, a downloadable shortcut. The time we spend digging deeper — experiencing– is what puts the bones in the goose. Acknowledging that “it will never be finished,” opens up space and time to dream.
“Emerson didn’t hate quotation, not really. What he hated was our impulse to shortcut actual thought. The Internet didn’t create that impulse, but it has made it far more tempting and easier to satisfy.”
Quotes evade self-thought by stirring the pot with someone else’s words.
It’s easy to get caught up in quotes, the same way we get addicted to sharing link bait. Never be afraid to quote yourself.
Ironically this was my high school yearbook quote from years ago:
“I HATE quotation. Tell me what you know.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The phone isn’t the problem. The problem is us—our inability to step away from email and games and inessential data, our inability to look up, be it at an alpine lake or at family members. We won’t be able to get away from it all for very much longer. So it’s vitally important that each of us learns how to live with a persistent connection, everywhere we go, whether it’s in the wilderness or at a dinner party.
We're always on, always connected. The Internet is a glorious thing, the modern day railroad. But how good are we at staying present when it matters the most? The mind is terrible at multi-tasking.
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Doubt on purpose. Doubt in order to jump start different thinking and experiment, rising above the ordinary.
Narrow-mindedness is accepting things by default. Life requires diversity which begets progress.
Nevertheless, skepticism is only one step one in redefining existence.
Thinking different is a cop-out if there’s no creative work to back it up.
Skeptics are as equally as responsible as conformists. They have to convert questioning into viable action. Naturally, the next is doing the work.
It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. – Scott Belsky
The biggest hurdle in any creative process though is communicating it effectively and converting the work into sales. Creativity is one part making and equal part commerce.
If your work matters, then it’ll probably matter to others as you convince them to share your labor of love.
In summary, here are the steps to maximizing skepticism:
- Think Different.
- Take positive, creative action.
- Communicate effectively.
- Sell your idea/art.
Uniqueness is a prompt for action, not an excuse to sit back and mock what’s already been done.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things the matter. – Martin Luther King Jr.
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”