Creativity is the Medicine for the Soul

“Odd how the creative power at once brings the whole universe to order.”

Virginia Woolf

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”

Rumi

Why do we create? To express ourselves, sure. To be somebody. To highlight something important to the world. And yet, creativity goes much deeper than that.

The act of creating doesn’t just work outwardly, it’s also an act that works within us.

Creativity is an outlet of inner work and outer work. By expressing ourselves through our art, we learn and nurture our own selves.

There are moments in our lives where everything feels like a struggle. Moment where we feel stuck in the same old same old we find ourselves in again. Broken bones, childhood trauma’s, disappointment, broken hearts, loneliness, pain, injury, fear, uncertainty, apathy, burnout, brokenness, bitterness, anger… Sometimes life can be overwhelming. Creating is a great way to work through our thoughts and emotions. Because

Creativity is the Medicine for the Soul.

Why else would some of the greatest songs, books, films, poems, dances, and works of art come from sadness and pain. It’s a form of self-therapy* that releases pent-up energy. Creating something — whatever it is for you — is like a pressure valve release on our minds, bodies and souls. The more we create, the more capable we become. Creativity comes from happy places too. Happy moments need creative expressions just as much as the difficult moments do.

Whatever you are feeling, whatever you are going though. Creating something is an excellent tool in the toolkit.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #740

*that being said, always talk to a professional first if you need it.


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Limitless Creativity

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

What would you do if you had unlimited access to time, money and energy? If this was Family Feud, then travel, would likely the first choice.

Most of us go our entire lives living in the same corner pocket of the world. Which makes since. Our family, friends and familiars grounds are there. Our lives are there. And (romanticized) travel can get expensive. We know it’s good for us, but (unless you’ve caught the travel bug) we prioritize our resources elsewhere. That’s likely why if we suddenly had access to enough financial space and opportunity, we would all jump at the chance to spend a few months in France, or take a beach month in Hawaii.

Books can take us to world away, to galaxies unknown. They can change us, open us up to new ideas and realities. The internet can do that too. But it’s not until we use our own two feet to experience the variety and spices from different cultures and ways of living from around the globe that we can ground ourselves into who we are and what we stand for. Of course, after experiencing the world, we find ourselves coming back home or finding a new place to call our home.

The next choice could be spending time with the people we love. (But with unlimited resources you know we would be taking our friends on globetrotting adventures too)

But I think the second thing we would choice to do with unlimited resources is get back to work on our ideas. Or at least, if you are like me, that’s what gets me jazzed in the morning.

If you are reading this, then there’s likely a creative expression, a passion, an art, a creative pursuit burning inside you. It’s a business idea that popped into your head one day. Or a thing you did when you were a kid but stop doing while experiencing the growing pains of life. It’s something that you gravitate towards in your free time, or talk about (with way too much) enthusiasm to your friends. This is your art. This is a piece of who you are.

Unlimited resources would be nice… I sometimes fantasize about getting stuck in a time loop like Phil (Bill Murray) on Groundhog Day. Imagine having unlimited resource to master the piano or read every book in the universe. (Although, in Groundhog day everything resets each day, so notes, artwork, businesses would likely poof back to nothing each day, and we’d be stuck in Punxsutawney.) But having limited resources doesn’t mean we should give up on our creative pursuits. Let go of the things you can’t have, focus on what you’ve got to give. Theodore Roosevelt once spoke “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” All that matters is that we give it our all with what we’ve got.

The goal, for any pursuit, is to not let the unimportant things in life crowd out the important things (whatever that is for you). When we do the best that we can with what we have now, as we keep pursuing and preserving, over time our resources grow. The longer we keep going, the more time, money and energy we can give to what we love, and the more quality we can squeeze out of efforts.

Limitless creativity doesn’t come from unlimited resources. Limited resources comes from working with what we’ve got, and find clever ways to use our ‘limitations’ or constraints to our advantage.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #739


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Worth it

Essential should take priority over immediate. And yet, we often allow ourselves and feel driven to do the opposite. There’s many reasons we could point to — we didn’t sleep well last night, we are distracted by pain or distracted by shiny things, etc.

What’s easier: answering a few emails and clearing out your inbox or working on your app?

What’s more appealing: watching Netflix or sweating at the gym?

What’s more exciting: going out for drinks or putting butt in seat and writing?

Essential over immediate.

The essential takes more time, energy and intention. No wonder we struggle to get anything important done! We trade short-term pleasures for long-term success and happiness. Not that we have to give up happiness in the present in order to have it in the future. Rather, happiness comes from the process of spending our time and energy in ways that we love and find meaningful. Even an ounce of effort spent on what we love creates massive returns on the rest of our effort (which we might have to give to our other responsibilities, such as working to afford food for our family).

There’s another big reason that the important things tend to get benched:

The important things become too important. Or in other words, the essential things we want to do are so important that we end up not doing them. We idealize and fantasize them into a undefeatable monster in our minds. We (consciously or subconsciously) delay, avoid, distract, procrastinate and psych ourselves out from doing them. And eventually we end up filling our time and energy with everything BUT the things we want to do.

I’m making it seem clear and cut-and-dry, but it’s usually anything but. In reality the tradeoffs are so subtle. We hardly even notice we are selling ourselves short and are feeding the wrong things. We trade what we really want to do, for second or third-best options because we think that’s all we desire or are capable of doing.

Because what if we fail?
What if we waste all this time and energy for nothing?
What if we succeed and are still unhappy?

Ultimately it comes down to giving yourself some space and asking yourself is it worth it or not.

Is this worth my finite amount of time and energy?
Is this going to add value to my life AND the lives around me?
Is this going to provide me meaning and happiness in the present, regardless if I fail or succeed in the end?

Failing at something you love is better than succeed at something you hate or find mediocre.

Because failure is recoverable. But we can’t get back wasted time on things that don’t matter.

The road to mediocrity is born from hesitation and feeding ‘what you are supposed to do’ instead of what you feel called to do.

What do you feel called to do in this life?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #734


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Resolve to Fight

“Better to fight for something than live for nothing.”

George S. Patton

“The truest wisdom is a resolute determination.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

There will be times in your life where you must fight.

Perhaps not with fists or weapons, but an exchange of blows just as real.

Sometimes, you may have to battle for your intuition and truth. Do you take this job because the money is good, or do you listen to your instincts and pass? Do you partner with this person because his / her idea is great, or do you decline because your gut is telling you?

Sometimes, you may have to battle for your beliefs and freedom. How likely are your convictions wrong? A lot of people believed that slavery was right, but the belief didn’t fly in the face of reality. The belief contradicted itself. Wanting something to be true, and something being true are completely different things. If you discover you are wrong about something, then change. Change for the better. Do like the wisest people from history did — follow virtue in every step. But if your convictions are right, then don’t back down. Stand for character and truth.

Sometimes the battle is negativity and despair. Sometimes the battle is in your mind. Defeat them with hope. Hope is the best weapon. The past may be the past, but that doesn’t make the future determined. Only we can do that with how we decide to think and act today. And, with a little luck, we can make a better future for ourselves and others.

There are so many important battles — keeping great friendships strong… pursuing your dreams… healing from an injury… accepting fate with honor… taking the higher road… choosing life over apathy… finishing what you started… and handling fear, lots of doubt and fear…

Not everything is worth fighting for, but the things that are we’ll be ready for.

At any moment, we have the opportunity to transform into better selves, and do the things we know we need to do.

Take heart.

The fights will be challenging, but that’s part of life too.

In the end, the best things in life worth the challenge.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #720


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Stronger From Trying

“Success and failure are both part of life. Both are not permanent.”

Shah Rukh Khan

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

We don’t always win, but we can grow stronger from trying. Put that on a bumper sticker and call it a day.

The most difficult part is not letting failure get to you, and failure is soooo great at doing just that and getting in our heads. Here’s a great example: looking for a job.

Have you ever had the soul crushing experience of trying to find a job and yet only getting rejection emails or no responses at all? The problem is we are comparing something personal — our lives and careers — with something that’s also personal but abstracted behind dozens or even hundreds of resume’s to read from mostly complete strangers in the companies inbox. (No wonder word of mouth usually is the method of choice for hiring.) It’s hard not to feel down and low self-worth when day after day you are met with rejection.

And yet failure is part of the process. Rejection is part of creativity. Put yourself and your work out there and eventually it will meet criticism, bad reviews, or worse — silence.

Some critiques are worth listening to. If it pushes us to do better and try harder, then it’s worth the immediate sting. And un-constructive critiques should be thrown out and set on fire.

Inaction from fear doesn’t change anything. Inaction just keeps us exactly where we are — usually somewhere we don’t want to be.

Trying something new each day does. ‘Okay, that photo didn’t work out so well, what can I try next?’.

As long as we keep getting up, we never actually fail. Even going through the worst failure doesn’t stop the world spinning. Another day always comes. Another chance to try again.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #714


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Nothing Endures but Change

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

William Arthur Ward

Unfortunately-fortunately, the change that endures isn’t always the change that we want. Sometimes change means ‘fewer clients’ and periods of financial angst and shower-crying sessions. Sometimes change means some fool not paying attention and slamming into the back of your car while you are running late.

And other times, changes looks like buying a dog, a new season of your favorite show, a new Drake album, dyeing our hair pink or moving to a new city.

Yet, when change enviable knocks on our door, we don’t always know if its good or bad. And as time goes on, change changes on us. (The nerve of it.)

It’s easy to desire change we think benefits us, and hard to accept change we think harms us, but it’s not always so cut and dry.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to turn every negative into a positive. Some moments in our lives really do suck. Health issues that don’t go away… Someone taking advantage of us …
And yet, even when the nonsense stuff happens to us, we still need to find a way to resolve it and move past it.

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can do the best we can do to seek the change that creates abundance in our lives, and learn to be steadfast when change pushes us around.

When I think back on my life so far, it’s often the short term, immediate pain, setbacks, failures and negative events that have blossomed into long term benefits and drivers. As painful as they may be in the moment, setbacks can change us for the better if we let them. It wasn’t long into my health and renaissance journey that I injured my neck in a bad way. It wasn’t the start of my health journey, but it was the catalyst that made me seek out health and wellness even more.

Change shows us what we have been neglecting. It shows us what’s important and what matters to us.

An injury that changes your trajectory in life.

A critique that drives you to get better.

A failure that forces you to start over.

I don’t wish ill of anyone, but I do hope you experience wonderful change in your life.

Life without change would become stagnant. Change, even the negative kind, can be a force we can use to create a positive impact on our lives.

“Nothing endures but change.”

Heraclitus

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #713


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Iron Will

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.”

Leonardo da Vinci

Iron is a malleable metal. It’s not too soft to be directionless and not to ridged to be brittle. But it takes heat to form it into what you need.

I know, it is a very cheesy self-help things to write, but it’s true.

Nobody like to be knocked on their *ss, but everyone loves an underdog.

Resistance is a natural part of reaching for success. Whatever that success is for you, things are going to get in your way.

Bad luck, circumstances, setbacks and failure may not be our fault, or maybe they are, but it doesn’t matter. Either way, they are our responsibility. They are our opportunity to get stronger and more capable.

Difficult moments will try to break you, and they can if you let them turn you ridged and bitter. Anger and resentment held to long seeps into the bones and poisons our capacity to act if we aren’t careful.

However, difficult moments can’t hurt an iron will.

Let the past go. Forget the future for now. Focus on the here and now. Rest. Take a moment. Do what you need to do to reset. Then get up and find a way forward.

But don’t take my word for it. Instead, listen to the insights of all the strong willed people who said it cooler than me:

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

Bruce Lee

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”

Eleanor Roosevelt

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

Mahatma Gandhi

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Marcus Aurelius

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #706


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Don’t Stop

“Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation… even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”

Leonardo da Vinci

There’s an expression, ‘two steps forward, one step back’, that’s difficult to feel the depths of until you’ve felt the frustration being one step back.

Some days my goals feel like a plane strapped to my shoulders and I’m shoving with all my might to make a few steps forward.

It’s worth asking yourself, when you are metaphorically (or physically) pulling, lifting and otherwise maneuvering a heavy object, whether or not you actually want too in the first place.

Not every goal we have is our own. Some come from our culture, like buying a new car. Some come from our parents or our childhood, like meeting an expectation that they never could themselves. And some even come from other people, who pitch their goals so well you want in too. Not only if these are bad. Inspiration can lead us to new directions and a life we never dreamed of. But we need to make sure it’s something we want for ourselves (and ultimately the world) too.

Pulling a goal is hard; Pulling one you don’t even like is worse. Because what if you succeed and don’t like where you end up?

Pulling a goal that yours though is worth every drop of blood, tears and sweat though.

Any doubt in yourself and you stop moving. Negative thoughts are always try to get in the way. If it’s your goal – truly your goal – then it’s worth it. The only way forward is to not stop. If we stop, we rust. An inch one day. Nothing the next. A slight turn that felt impossible. A step backwards the next. Every effort counts. It all adds up to your story and your impact on my story.

The people who make it furthest in life with their dreams and pursuits are the ones who don’t stop. (Or maybe the ones too dumb to stop. :P)

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #705


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Watching the Rain

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

Helen Keller

If you don’t mind, I’d like to get uncomfortably vulnerable in this post:

My failures and poor decisions of the past couple years have been weighing on my mind the last few weeks. I’ve been in a discouraging, pitiful headspace. You likely wouldn’t be able to notice if we grabbed some coffee or ran into each other on the street. It’s likely because some of my habits, such as meditation, yoga, walking and writing keep me sane. But I know that I am more stressed and too serious than I normally am. It’s hard to describe. It’s similar to a toothache — you know something’s off, but you are not quite sure what or why.

How do you cope? We all have things we are going through, and we all have coping mechanisms which help us emotionally deal with them in the short term. Coping mechanisms come in all shapes and sizes, and they are usually hidden in plain sight. Worry, reclusiveness, silence… even anger can help us deal with life. Sometimes they might even be good things, like health and exercise, just taken to an borderline abusive extreme.

We may not consider anger a coping mechanism, but it’s an excellent emotion that can forcefully moves things forward… for better or worse. There’s a lot of Type A people out in the world who use anger to create success — and usually burn bridges and raise their blood pressure and self-loathing in the process. I know many people like this. They brute force their way towards what they want and burn themselves out in the process.

My coping method, on the other hand, tends to be numbing myself out. When things get extremely difficult, my mind falls into a black hole space-time reality. It’s an unfortunate after-effect I picked up after badly injuring my neck over 5 years ago. Numbing myself doesn’t require any substance to start, my mind provides all the chemicals required to get it going.

I used to hate the fact that my mind would numb myself out (…if that makes sense). In the past, I’ve been envious of the people who can face setbacks or misfortunes and use anger to defy them. But I don’t feel this way anymore. We all deal with trauma and misfortune some point in our lives. Sometimes that requires different coping mechanisms to make it through.

The key is appreciating (even being grateful for ) what has helped you to get where you are, and becoming aware of when an emotion, habit or coping method isn’t working for you anymore and finding a healthy alternative. Numbing myself helped me get through the pain of my injury, but I have no use for it anymore.

Suffering and pain reminds me of rain.

Rain comes and goes. Sometimes it’s torrential rain that almost picks us off our feet and whips us around. Other times its light and distant. But it always clears eventually. (Even Seattle gets a few days off. 🙂 If we can learn to watch for the signs of rain on the horizon, then we can preemptively give ourselves what we need to prepare for it.

My goal is not to stop it from raining, but to appreciate it while it’s here (and maybe even learn to enjoy it). Because there’s grow in rain. There’s lessons to be learned. We can connect more deeply with others by experiencing rain.

Here are a few insights I remind myself when it starts to rain:

Focus on Opportunity Instead of Negativity

It’s so easy for to make ourselves feel stuck by focusing only on the problems in our lives. But, for every problem there’s an opportunity we could be putting our energy into instead. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. Focus on the good versus the negative.

Focus on Possibility

Every great story, be it fiction or real, has its ups and downs, trials and triumphs. Each problem and setback we face becomes a part of our own story. Use it. Build deeper connections by sharing your story. We want to be the big hero, but if we have to be the underdog, or the friendly neighborhood hero, then so be it! Every disadvantage is actually an advantage in disguise.

And Give Yourself as Much Self-Care as Possible.

We usually know what we really need when we need it. We’re usually just too stubborn to allow ourselves to have it. When I say self care, I’m not talking about treating yo’ self to a new pair of shoes, inhaling a bucket of ice cream or any of the other bad habits we lean on when we are feeling low. Self-care is giving yourself solitude and when you need space, or reaching out to friends when you need community. It’s giving therapy a go. It’s taking breaks from work when you feel overworked. It’s prioritizing things that don’t feel like an obligation or things that don’t have a deadline attacked to them. Self-care is giving yourself the health, happiness, connection and meaning you’ve been missing or neglecting.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #703


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Why Failure is (Mostly) Good

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”

Johnny Cash

Let’s be honest — failure sucks. Most of us would rather eat our right pinky finger than fail.

But failure is also good because it teach us (the hard way) to grow. Everyone loves a good failure to success story, where our hero hits rock bottom and a few montage scenes later finds his or her way back from defeat. But for every success story, how many untold stories of people who failed, hit rock bottom and gave up?

The worst part about failure is that giving up is always on the table. In fact, giving up is the easiest choice. Giving up requires nothing from us. But giving up gives us nothing in return. We love success stories because we see ourselves as the hero in our own story that overcomes adversity and failure. The goal isn’t to fail, but to learn to succeed after we fail.

“Why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.”

Failure is our chance to learn something we didn’t know (our something we were neglecting) and get back up.

Sometimes that requires us to take a break and rest.
— or go back to the drawing board.
— or change our perspective or how we think.
— or become less ego-driven.
— or realign our priorities and/or expectations.

And whatever else we need to do to reset ourselves, find resolve to move forward, and work up the nerve to try again.

Because we know we can.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #695


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