Many people have probably heard of or read the book Eat, Pray, Love, but if you haven’t, you may have seen the movie starring Julia Roberts. The book was written by Elizabeth Gilbert who chronicled her tale of heartbreak and self discovery while she travelled around the globe to find herself. The book touched me because I read it while going through a messy breakup and it was a source of encouragement. So, I was super excited when I heard that she would be giving a talk about creativity in London and eagerly signed up.
Her talk was focused on her latest book Big Magic, which is a creativity self-help guide for those who want to live a more creative life. She talked about her own creative process and how she develops her talents so that she can move forward with key projects. Part of her effort with this book is to share this and encourage others to reach their highest talents. I found her talk to be quite interesting and found myself taking tons of notes. Here are my top 5 take away points from the session.
Number 1: Honesty without kindness doesn’t work
Getting feedback is great but it should come from someone who actually cares about you and who will give actual constructive feedback in a way that is kind. People who care about you don’t need to be “brutally honest” because the realize that you don’t have to be brutal to be honest in the first place.
Number 2: The ultimate act of creativity is to make your life a work of art
What are you doing to make the world a more interesting, beautiful and special place for yourself and for those around you? What are your creative gifts and talents? Maybe you are not an artist but you can bring flair and good ideas to your projects in a way that benefits others.
Number 3: Ask someone “What are you most excited about right now”? We all come from somewhere and probably have a job.
Ask someone what they are excited about life. It is so easy to just stick with the basics and commit to a bit of small talk rather than opening up and asking people questions that matter. Part of this is that we may want to be polite but there are a lot of questions that are “safe” but more interesting and that could draw out interesting facts and facets about another person. Check out this NY Times Modern Love column about this same topic – just loved this piece!
Number 4: There are no “guilty” pleasures. Just enjoy life. Save the guilt for really, really bad behaviour like theft.
I met with some friends recently and we had a very interesting conversation about delaying gratification and what it really meant. In the end, we concluded that we should all just use our best shower gels, stop saving the nice towels for guests and enjoy that extra glass of wine. I liked Gilbert’s point that guilt should be saved for bad things, and not for good things that will allow us to enjoy life just a little bit more.
Number 5: To get what you want you’ll probably have to to say “no” a lot…even to the things you want to do
If you want to get ahead in life and reach your creativity goals, it’s important that you give it time by actually carving out time to get what you want. You can dream your life away but unless you take action, you will never get to the places that you want to go to in life. She read this really great poem “Advice to Myself” by Louise Erdrich, which highlights the importance of letting everything go in the name of doing the things that are really meaningful for you.