Elastic Thinking

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”
– Albert Einstein
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The world is changing so fast, the way we do things has changed so much in my lifetime, it’s hard to remember how we used to survive. I was talking to a friend who is in her 20s recently, and she asked me how we survived when we were travelling around the world in the 80s, without cell phones or internet. And I tried to remember . . . how did we survive? We had a Lonely Planet book and we talked to other travellers and we just winged it a lot! Somehow we survived without ever making a reservation or really having much of a plan at all. We just did it.

There is no argument that things are changing quickly, and it seems that many of us, especially those of us born well before cell phones and internet, are running just trying to keep up. But what I’ve noticed a lot lately is that some of us are adapting and learning more quickly than others. So I’ve been fascinated to read about some of the research about how these changes create new demands on how we must think in order to thrive in this era.

There is a fascinating article in Psychology Today, ‘Your Elastic Mind’, by Leonard Mlodinow, Ph.D., a theoretical physicist and the author of Elastic. In this article Mlodinow explains that there are certain talents, or qualities of thought that are now essential in these rapidly changing times. He gives us some examples:

“The capacity to let go of comfortable ideas and become accustomed to ambiguity and contradiction, the capability to rise above conventional mind-sets and reframe the questions we ask, the ability to abandon our ingrained assumptions and open ourselves to new paradigms, the propensity to rely on imagination as much as on logic and to generate and integrate a wide variety of ideas, and the willingness to experiment and be tolerant of failure. That’s a diverse bouquet of talents, but as psychologists and neuroscientists have elucidated the brain processes behind them, those talents have been revealed as different aspects of a coherent cognitive style. I call it elastic thinking.

Elastic thinking endows us with the ability to solve novel problems and overcome the neural and psychological barriers that can impede us from looking beyond the existing order. It’s important to understand how our brains produce elastic thinking, and how we can nurture it. In a large body of research one quality stands out above all the others—unlike analytical reasoning, elastic thinking arises from what scientists call “bottom-up” processes.”

In an interview in Scientific America, Mlodinow explains that:

“In my field, science, researchers are overwhelmed by something more constructive, the more than three million new journal articles each year. In personal technology, we must all learn to navigate a landscape in which the number of websites has been doubling every two to three years, and the way we use and access them is subject to frequent “disruptive change.” More importantly, social attitudes are changing just as fast—compare the pace of the civil rights movement to the speed at which the campaign for gay rights swept the developed world. Or look at the overnight rise of the “me too” movement.

The failure of businesses to adapt has led to the quick demise of countless companies, and major power shifts in industries from taxis to hospitality. But we must adapt to thrive in our personal lives, too. We have to be willing to rise above conventional mindsets, to reframe the questions we ask, to be open to new paradigms. We have to rely as much on our imagination as on logic, and have the ability to generate and integrate a wide variety of ideas, to welcome experiment, and be tolerant of failure. I call that manner of thought elastic thinking, in contrast to rational or logical thought.”

The way that this has shown up in my life recently has been the challenges that I have faced as I’ve embarked on a new adventure in my career, pushing me way outside my comfort zone. I’ve had to learn how to use new platforms for my New Online Workshop; had to learn new tools on You Tube and new ways to connect with people around the world. It has pushed me way beyond what I thought I could do, and my fear of failure and doing it wrong has been rampant.

I have absolutely had to practice what Mlodinow described:

‘I’ve had to ‘reframe the questions I ask; I’ve had to be open to new paradigms; have had to rely as much on my imagination as on logic, and I’ve had to generate and integrate a wide variety of ideas, to welcome experiment, and be very tolerant of failure!’

If this topic interests you, I encourage you to take the time to watch this very interesting ‘Talks at Google’ by Leonard Mlodinow – ‘Elastic Thinking in Times of Change.’

 

I’d love to hear about your elastic thinking skills.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

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Curiosity + Courage + Creativity = An Unbeatable Formula

“Everybody has a creative potential and from the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.”
— Paulo Coelho

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I think about that quote a lot lately, almost every time I watch the news in fact! ‘From the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.’  Watching the news and keeping up with current events, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. But it’s important to remember, we all have the creative potential to start changing the world.

But why are so many people so afraid of the idea of creativity? Perhaps it’s the idea that to be creative is to relinquish control.

Matisse famously says: Creativity takes courage.

And Joseph Chilton Pearce adds: To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.

Picasso adds to that: The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.

To allow oneself to put aside that part of us that is in control, that is logical and rational is a scary thought. For those of us who have worked so hard to keep everything ordered and in control, the thought of relinquishing this control is scary. But I love the image created by Lady Gaga about letting go to access one’s creative spark:

When you make music or write or create, it’s really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condom-less sex with whatever idea it is you’re writing about at the time.

A lot of research is also pointing to curiosity being an important key to unlocking creativity:

creativity-curiosity

In order to spark new levels creativity as adults, we need to get back in touch with our childlike curiosity. We need to observe, explore, ask questions, and again venture into the unknown — Andrew Merle explains in a recent article in Huffington Post: Why Curiosity is the Key to Break Through Creativity.

Along with fear of losing control, a great many people believe that they aren’t creative, that they ‘don’t have a creative bone in their body.’ The sad truth is that many of us have been shamed out of even trying to access our creative spark. Some of us have even been taught out of our creativity. Sir Ken Robinson explains this beautifully in his popular TED Talk: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

The reality though is that we are ALL born creative, we all have that creative potential. Yes, some of us are more artistic than others or more talented in certain areas. But all of us are creative.

Creativity is not found just in the chosen few who exhibit artistic talent. It is a force that flows through every single one of us, allowing us to dream things up and make them happen.

–Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy

In a wonderful article on Greater Good Website, Ten Things Creative People Know, Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy explain that:

Creative expression opens the door to the inner world of our imaginations. It is here that we make meaning of our lives. It is here that motivation takes root. The more creative we are, the more capacity we have to imagine what’s possible and make those visions real.

So although it’s a conundrum, creativity sparks creativity!

So the next time you look around and feel as though it’s time to start changing the world, remember:

Curiosity + Courage + Creativity = an unbeatable formula

I think I’ll close with Sir Ken Robinson’s latest TED Talk, he is always a good choice to illustrate the 3 Cs!  Bring on The Revolution:

I’d love to hear how you spark your creativity.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

Creative Positive Reframing

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”
― Voltaire

Creative Positive Reframing:  Taking limiting beliefs and creatively transforming them so that they become supportive rather than destructive.

This is what I am calling the process that I outline in my book – This Way Up.  So today, the second of August, 2016, I’m letting all of my readers know that Creative Positive Reframing is now *named! (*kinda trademarked, if you will)

The process involves several steps, but one of the central points is the use of questions. We are often advised to use affirmations when we are trying to rid ourselves of a bad habit or in getting out of a negative thought spiral. And it’s a wonderful, helpful tool. However, sometimes if we are using affirmations that do not feel real to us, our brain rejects it, and challenges us on it. For example, if I am struggling to save enough money to buy a car, and I say to myself, ‘I am wealthy and have plenty of money for a new car’, my head will say, ‘that’s not true’ – and then my brain will work to prove that I am wrong.  Affirmations sometimes work brilliantly, but sometimes they don’t; and if they don’t seem to be working on certain problems, there is a body of research that shows that the use of questions instead of affirmations works very effectively. Questions spark the brain’s tendency to work to solve problems. Ask a question and your brain will toil to find an answer, so that your brain is working with you, instead of against you.

I read a great article in Daily Good the other day called Living by Questions.  In it, poet Jane Hirshfield explains:

To ask a good question is a way to carabiner yourself to intimacy, a doorknob that turns only one direction, toward open. A good question can send you on a long journey in rain and cold. It can terrify, bringing you straight into your own fears, whether of heights or of loss or of all the mysteries that never go away—our own vulnerability, the heart’s utter exposure, the capriciousness and fragility of events, of relationships, of existence.

In times of darkness and direness, a good question can become a safety rope between you and your own sense of selfhood: A person who asks a question is not wholly undone by events. She is there to face them, to meet them. If you’re asking a question, you still believe in a future. And in times that are placid and easy, a good question is a preventive against sleepwalking, a way to keep present the awakening question that’s under all other questions: “What else, what more?”

What a stunning description, so, well, poetic!

I will go into more deteail about Creative Positive Reframing in future posts. But for now, I’d like to close with a TED talk – ‘How to Ask Good Questions.’

 

I’d love to hear what you think about the name I’ve chosen for my process – ‘Creative Positive Reframing.’ And any thoughts you have about the use of questions.  And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Holy Curiosity!

“Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holy curiosity. Make your life worth living.”
– Albert Einstein

Have holy curiosity!  What a wonderful way to express it – holy curiosity to make your life worth living.

Liz Gilbert describes curiosity:

“Curiosity is a tiny tap on the shoulder — a little whisper in the ear that says, “Hey, that’s kind of interesting…”  The trick is to just follow your small moments of curiosity. It doesn’t take a massive effort. Just turn your head an inch. Pause for a instant. Respond to what has caught your attention. Look into it a bit. Is there something there for you? A piece of information? For me, a lifetime devoted to creativity is nothing but a scavenger hunt — where each successive clue is another tiny little hit of curiosity. Pick each one up, unfold it, see where it leads you next. Small steps . . .”

I love that. Have holy curiosity; follow those small moments of curiosity; listen to that quiet little whisper in the ear; turn your head just a little bit to see what caught your attention out of the corner of your eye. Pay Attention!

I have been talking a lot about paying attention lately, about following that little whisper.  I’ve been having to practice what I preach as I put myself out there in the world.

Last week my book, This Way Up: Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life,  became available early on Amazon!  Publishing date is April 26th, but Amazon released it early.  This is very exciting on the one hand, but I wasn’t quite ready, I felt cheated somehow; I went to Amazon to check on something unrelated to my publishing date, and there on the page it said: “In stock and ready to ship!”  Suddenly I felt like I was on the back foot and needed to do more and move faster.

So I have been actively promoting my book and researching with holy curiosity different places for interviews and promotion.  It is not for the faint of heart, I assure you.

Today I had a wonderful interview on Artist First Radio with host Tony Kay, President of the ArtistFirst Radio Network.  It was such fun to be interviewed and to talk about my book for a whole hour.

I’ll close today with the interview.  It is an hour, so it does take a bit of a commitment to listen to the whole thing.  But if you can please do take the time to listen.

 

I’d love any feedback you have, and as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Giving Voice to Your Courage

One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

– Maya Angelou

Giving voice to our courage. Such a wonderful concept. Thank you Dorit Sasson for the oportunity to be on your Blog Talk Radio Show.

What a wild ride I am currently on!  It is taking a helluva lot of courage at the moment as I navigate my way toward my publishing date. I am doing new things every day, facing new challenges and learning as I go.  This journey is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

It is taking a courage I did not know I had – planning events, marketing myself, learning new things about how to use technology. Phew!  Thank goodness for my team behind me, helping me along the way. Thank God for my sons – teaching me about technology and guiding me as I learn. And thank you to people like Dorit that help me to get the word out about my book.

Thank you again to my son Lukas for getting my website set up – This Way Up Book.  On that site I will be listing events as they come up and I’ll be posting interviews as they happen.

Thank you to my son Devin for writing some music for me to use on my YouTube Page;  and to both Lukas and Devin for helping me get that page set up.  Watch this space as it evolves.

It’s all coming together, slowly but surely . . . running as fast as I can to keep up.

It’s a wild ride – but to be honest,  I am having a blast!

I’m going to close today in a slightly different way.  Instead of a You Tube Clip from someone else, I’m going to close with the Blog Talk Radio Interview with ME!  Feels surreal!

Please take the time to listen:

Giving Voice to Your Courage with Author Patti Clark

I’d love any feedback you have, and as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

 

Creativity isn’t always easy

Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it’s produced the most extraordinary results in human culture.

– Sir Ken Robinson

Some people claim that they have to create – that painting or writing or making music is as essential to them as breathing.  That is not the case for me.  I usually feel like I have to force myself to take the time to be creative. I set time aside to journal or write or just doodle because I know that that is the time when I can really connect with the source, with the truest part of me.

Other people are the oposite; instead of feeling like they have to create, they feel like they absolutely cannot create. Those people feel that creativity is only found in the chosen few.

Creativity is not found just in the chosen few who exhibit artistic talent. It is a force that flows through every single one of us, allowing us to dream things up and make them happen.

–Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy

In a wonderful article on Greater Good Website, Ten Things Creative People Know,  Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy explain that Creative expression opens the door to the inner world of our imaginations. It is here that we make meaning of our lives. It is here that motivation takes root. The more creative we are, the more capacity we have to imagine what’s possible and make those visions real.

But it’s important for me to explain, that for me anyway, it isn’t always easy.  It takes effort and determination and tenacity.  I force myself to journal every morning before I get up because I know that that is the time that I sometimes get glimpses of what is possible and ideas about how to make them real.  I sometimes get flashes of insight that lead to amazing things. And sometimes I even get lost in doodling or drawing and just love what emerges. It’s glorious to get lost in that flow.  Not that it’s anything I’d ever sell as ‘fine art’ – it’s just amazingly cool to get lost in, and to connect with that deep sense of self in the process.

In their article, Taylor and Murphy explore ten ideas about creativity and creative people:

1. Our lives have meaning.

2. We are all creative.

3. Creative expression empowers us.

4. We are good at heart.

5. Life is an adventure to be lived, not a problem to be solved.

6. Change is an inside job.

7. Diversity is a resource.

8. We thrive when we feel supported.

9. We each have the power to make change.

10. The challenges of our time require intergenerational collaboration.

 

We all have this potential and this gift.  It’s just that it isn’t always easy and often requires effort and determination to focus on our creativity – even if it’s only for 5 minutes before we get out of bed.

I’d like to close with a video clip with the wonderful Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. The clip is aptly called – ‘The Power of Persevance’

 

I’d love to hear about how you feel about your creativity. And as always, thanks for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

Jumping Outside Your Comfort Zone

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

– Neale Donald Walsch

I know that real change only occurs outside of one’s comfort zone, but sometimes I wish I weren’t so committed to real change! My whole life seems to be happening outside of my comfort zone at the moment.  I really feel like I’m making it up as I go.  The best analogy I can come up with is a game we play in the workshops that I facilitate for teens; the game is called ‘hot lava river’ – the object of the game is to get your whole team across the ‘hot lava river’ using only a few ‘magic stones.’   The magic stones are carpet squares, and the river is a section of grass cordoned off for the game.  In the game, if a foot or any part of the body of anyone on the team touches the river, then that team loses.  You can only cross the river by using the carpet sqares – throwing out the limited squares one by one; each square must be used strategically, and as you jump to each new sqare, you move forward, not exactly sure where the next one will go.  I feel like I’m tossing out the squares as quickly as I can, jumping to each new square and hoping I’m going in the right direction, and hoping I’m not going to run out of squares before I get to the other side.

Almost everything I’m doing at the moment is new to me and way outside my comfort zone. I’m planning book events that I’ve never done before, marketing myself and my book in ways I’ve never had to do before; but I keep moving forward, pushing against the next barrier, toward my ultimate goal of getting my book out there.

For me, it’s getting my book out there, but I believe we all have our our defining moments that exist outside of our own comfort zones.  Michael Johnson suggests that:

A defining moment requires a breakthrough insight and a commitment to action and it only occurs when you’re outside your comfort zone.  Without action, this defining moment fades in your memory, only to be pulled up sometime in the future as regret;  great opportunities are so often abandoned because they are not coupled with action. A defining moment must have a commitment to action.

So I have made my commitment to action. I am throwing out my ‘magic stones’ as fast as I can, and jumping to the next stone with the belief that I will get to the other side of this scary hot lava river.  Yes I’m living way outside my comfort zone at the moment, but as Neale Donald Walsch says, life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

I’d like to close with a TED Talk aptly named, Getting Comfortable Outside Your Comfort Zone.

I’d love to hear about how you deal with living outside your comfort zone. And as always, thanks for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

 

Risk Curiosity!

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”

― e.e. cummings

We can risk curiosity!  Isn’t that a wonderful way to put it?

To risk curiosity, we have to believe in ourselves, have faith in ourselves.  And for me, when I am living by The Seven Tools of Transformation, curiosity is an essential ingredient.

When I am looking for inspiration to ignite my curiosity, I go visit my friend my friend Becki Ginsberg Saltzman’s website, Living Curiously.

Becki works with people who want to learn to use curiosity strategically to make better decisions, generate new ideas, and live more fulfilling and adventurous lives.

Becki is not the only one who recommends risking curiosity.  In her talk on Super Soul Sunday, Elizabeth Gilbert suggests taking passion off the table and pursuing curiosity.  So many of us believe we should always be following our passion, and sometimes that gets us stuck. What is my passion? we ask.  But if we get quiet and ask ourselves what we feel curious about, sometimes that can lead us to places we never imagined.

Please take the time to watch this short video of Elizabeth Gilbert, and think about what you are curious about.

 

 

I’d love to hear about what you are curious about today. And as always, thanks for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.