Improve your Life by saying “No” so you can say “Yes” to Creativity
Lent is here. For many, this is when they give up something for forty days to spend more time with God or to discipline themselves in some area. Coffee. Alcohol. Meat. Social Media. Some even go on an extensive fast — no food. Or only bread and water. I’m like, Wow! That’s commitment.
Last year around this time, however, I did a five-day fast. I thought if my 72-year-old parents had the discipline to do it, then I should “woman up” and try to do the same. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done but the effect it had on my life was huge.
Our culture teaches us that uncomfort and pain is bad. Deferred gratification is discouraged. Whatever feels good, do it and do it NOW.
When I fasted, I realized that my body’s desires had been in the driver seat of my life for quite some time. And when I told my body it couldn’t have food, it threw a two-year old temper tantrum, whining and complaining every day.
But during the time of the fast, I also had such clarity. And I felt like I developed stamina — not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I can’t share all of the personal and family miracles that happened, but I was able to put my life in order in a way I never have before.
How does this relate to art? Well, spiritual fasting is about giving up food so you can spend more time with God, which is great! But I think the principle can work in other areas as well — like art!
Is there something you could give up to make space for being creative? Often, what you remove is a very good thing — like food— but it’s to make more time for what is best. I am a firm believer that when you set apart time, resources, and room for creating you will see positive changes in other areas of your life too.
Here are some possibilities of what creating can do for you:
1. It will get you out of a rut. Tired of the same old routine? Are you feeling bored about your job or life? A little creativity will shake things up and push you out of your comfort zone. It will help you knock over that wall of resistance to help you break into something new.
2. It can solve other problems. When you say “yes” to being creative, you’ll find that it opens up your mind to possibilities you’ve never seen before. It gives you a new perspective. That problem at work that has been niggling away at your peace at night. Eureka! You could find a win-win solution you never saw before. Or that annoying argument you’ve had with someone in your life over and over? Yep, you may see what is really at the root and stop that from ever happening again. A little creativity can help you thrive at work, in your home life, and improve your sense of well-being.
3. It helps you to be brave. When you sign up to do something creative, you’re really giving yourself permission to play around and mess up. And as you’re goofing around and making mistakes and flinging and kicking through the mud of learning something new, you’ve reminded yourself what it’s like to fall and get up again. And you can take that feeling anywhere in your life. Believe me, we all need a little more courage.
So, your homework for the week is to say “no” to something so you can say “yes” to creativity. Your body might lead you toward the couch to zone out watching the latest shows, but don’t let it win that battle. Or you might be on the other extreme. You’re so busy that there isn’t enough time. You have to deny yourself there too. Resist the temptation to do it all.
Making time to create will build those creative muscles and improve your life. Like any other discipline, it’s hard at first but so worth it!
Want a few easy ideas before the inspiration from my pep talk fades?