January 31st, 2019

The Big Magic of Creativity

Reading Time: 4 minutes

How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? Are you still riding the high of a new beginning? Or, has the road been a little bumpier than you expected? Don’t fret if you’re having difficulties; it happens to all of us. The Fabulous app is designed to help you stay on track with exactly these kinds of setbacks in mind. And if you’re looking to start over, why not try our new 30 Day New Year, New You Challenge?

Fear is one of the main reasons people struggle to keep their New Year’s resolutions. It’s exciting to start something new, but unexplored territory can make you understandably cautious. That little voice in your head starts to needle you with worries: What if you fail? What if you’re not good enough? What if you’re being unrealistic? Or, worst of all, what if you’re just wasting your time?

I challenge you to ask yourself this: If you had to live your life a thousand times over, would you want to live it the way you are right now? Take some time to really think about it. You can try the Nietzsche-inspired Fabulous meditation, Your Life on Repeat, to explore this thought exercise more deeply.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the landmark memoir Eat, Pray, Love, argues that fear does nothing but hold you back. In her own words, fear is boring, and a life lived in fear is a boring, unfulfilling one. Living in fear, she argues, is the real waste of time.

Live With Fear Instead of Overcoming It

You’ve probably been taught that fear is a challenge, or something to be defeated. Here’s the thing, though: your fear is never going away. Even if you cure yourself of one fear, you’ll always be afraid of something. Fear is one of our most primal, basic emotions. It’s something every animal experiences.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing! Fear can be a powerful tool to keep us from doing especially stupid or dangerous things. But what if you approached fear differently? Instead of trying to kill your fears, what if you tried living with them?

This doesn’t mean succumbing to a life of neverending fear. Rather, it means putting fear in its rightful place: the backseat. Fear can offer insight and suggestions, but it should never be in control of the car. That’s your job.

One way to better understand your fears, and how to live with them, is through meditation. Guided meditations, like Fabulous’s “The Wall,” put you face-to-face with the things that scare you. You’ll find that, once you get to know your fears, they’re not as scary as they seem inside your head.

Embrace Curiosity

Have you ever tried something new that made a friend say, “Oh, I could never do that!” You know they said it to make you feel good about yourself; you’re doing something brave, after all! But, when you look a little harder, doesn’t it sound like your friend is defending–or even bragging about–their own fear?

When you say things like, “I could never do that,” you’re really defending your own perceived weaknesses. You reinforce the idea that you’re not capable, without even so much as trying!

Why do people do this? The answer is, you guessed it, fear. Out of fear that you really can’t do the thing you want to do, you call it a loss without even trying. Because you can’t stop worrying, you never get to start living.

Gilbert believes in the idea of nothing ventured, nothing gained. Instead of preemptively giving up, she suggests approaching the unknown with a sense of curiosity. In other words, instead of saying, “I could never do that,” try saying, “I wonder if I could do that?”

Try reframing your thoughts like this as you go through your day. Instead of being afraid, get curious. Observe and analyze the things that frighten you. Write your fears down in your journal. Drag them into the open. Ask yourself: Is it really worth holding yourself back? What would happen if you didn’t? Observe yourself like this for a week and see if you notice a change in perspective.

Create Joyfully

When we think of creative types—artists, writers, musicians, and so on—we tend to think of them as “tortured” souls, agonizing over each creation they churn out.

Gilbert cautions against falling for this stereotype. Creation should be an act of joy, she warns, and thinking you have to suffer to do it properly only causes undue anguish. Moreover, constant suffering can stifle creativity and make it even harder for us to do what we want to do.

Let joy be what guides your decisions. Do the things you care about, really care about, and do them consistently. Don’t let the critics—not even your inner critic—get you down.

One thing you can do is start a secret project. Work on something just for you, just for the sake of doing it. Maybe tackle that novel you’ve always wanted to write, or start teaching yourself a new skill. Whatever you choose, it should be all about you and your wants. To remind yourself to do it, add the “Work on a Secret Project” habit to one of your daily routines.