So how am I doing in my quest to re-invent my life, follow my evolving Blisses and create the life I really, really want?
Newsflash: I love my life.
Which is something of a miracle, really, when I think of where I was 6 months ago.
In fact, I started this blog just over 6 months ago precisely because I was pretty unhappy with how my life was set up, and I was determined to change that. I made a commitment to create the life I really, really wanted, and I postulated that writing about my journey publicly would keep me on track toward my goals, and maybe help someone else out there in a similar spot.
Now here I am, half a year later, loving my life.
Not that I’ve achieved nirvana, and I’m really not happy with my bank balance at the moment (working on that…) But just Monday, in a session with Susan, my life coach (check out her website, which I recently designed), these words popped out of my mouth:
“I am exactly where I want to be in my creative life.”
Now, to be clear, this does not mean that I’ve achieved the level of mastery I’d like, or that I’ve garnered the kind of recognition and response to my work that I aspire to, or a whole bunch of other markers of “success.” But those things are not what happiness is about.
Whatever level of mastery you achieve, there’s always another level just beyond it. And external validation, while it makes you feel great for a moment, does not create lasting happiness.
That can only come from inside, from figuring out what really makes you happy and creating it in your life.
What I’ve figured out
I just re-read that initial post, Living A Creative Life: The Start of the Journey, and it was cool to see where I was 6 months ago, compared to where I am now.
Here’s what I’d figured out I wanted back then:
I want to create. On my terms. What I want to make, not what a client wants me to make.
Good stuff, and still true, but I’ve refined it a bit in the intervening half a year. I’ve since figured out that my optimal happiness rests on 2 foundations:
- Being my fully creative self and following my passion(s) (the three main ones at the moment being writing, making art and making music, not necessarily in that order)
- Helping others, especially helping others to be their fully creative selves, find their passion and live the lives they really, really want
When I’m doing these things – writing regularly, making art regularly, making music regularly, and regularly interacting with other people in a way that’s useful and helpful – life is really, really good.
What I’ve also figured out is that for optimal happiness, I need regular time in which I’m creating with no rules. Experimenting. Playing. Getting my hands dirty (both literally and figuratively). Just trying things, and seeing where they lead me.
I call this being in the Creative Sandbox.
Being in the Sandbox is what puts me in the Zone, in Flow, where I lose track of time and my ego starts – just a little – to disappear.
This is where I want to be.
Did I mention that for years the only time I created any artwork that wasn’t for clients was once a year at my annual calligraphy retreat? A few days once a year in the sandbox, people, is simply not enough.
Here’s what’s amazing: after years of wanting, but failing, to get there on any regular basis, I’m spending more time in the Sandbox than I ever thought I would.
Why now, when I’ve wanted to be there for so long? Apparently the timing was right. Apparently getting whalloped upside the head by the universe was exactly what I needed to put me in the right space. Apparently I was ready.
I’ll be honest (as if I’m ever otherwise here!), I don’t feel blissful every moment of every day. Sometimes I don’t like what I make in the Sandbox, and my inner demons tell me I’m a talentless hack. Some days I don’t even make it into the Sandbox. Sometimes I still get sucked into a black hole of inertia and it feels like I’ll never move forward.
But overall, I’m making forward progress. Sometimes just little baby steps, but with enough baby steps you could climb Everest (though believe me, that kind of climbing is that last thing you’ll ever find me signing up for!)
And overall, despite the huge mountain of debt, despite the various stresses and annoyances that pester me or make me temporarily blue, I’m really happy.
And a secret announcement (which obviously isn’t really secret, since I’m announcing it…)
The Dalai Lama has said, “I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy.” What this looks like is different for everybody, though some universal principles apply.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about happiness – why I’m happy now, why I wasn’t happy at other times in my life – and learned a lot of stuff in my time on the planet that is too good not to share.
To that end, I’m in the process of creating a free e-course of bite-sized tips (sent in periodic emails), to help you on your journey toward greater happiness. Universal principles that have worked in my own life, things I’ve learned that I think would help anyone live a happier life.
I’m calling it the Living A Creative Life Guide to Happiness.
No, I don’t guarantee that it will take you to nirvana (in fact it probably won’t), but it may inspire you. It may help you see something in a new way, and push you over the edge to trying something new. It may make you think. It may make you smile.
In any case, it will be free, and if you’re interested in getting the course when I’m done with it (target date: I’ll just say sometime in 2010), sign up using the form below and my magical email fairies will make sure it lands in your email box when it’s fully baked.
That’s it for this round, kiddos. Comments and stories from your own journey are welcome, as usual.