Living creatively and tapping the spirit are companion experiences, core components of being human. We can’t plan or command moments of insight any more than we can command proof of a higher power. But we can definitely cultivate a mental environment in which creative thinking and spiritual attunement thrive.
This environment flourishes with practice, which is a noun but also a verb. A “practice” (noun) is something you try to do every day. A routine. Maybe playing musical scales, running, or meditating.
“Practicing” (verb) leads to getting better at whatever you’re doing. So practice scales every day and you could become a knockout trumpet player. Follow a meditation practice consistently, and meet a calmer version of yourself. The following seven lines are a reminder of our inherent basic goodness. Inspired by Caroline Myss’ writing, the sentences are deceptively simple, but full of creative potential. Whether struggling with tumultuous world events or experiencing a personal crisis, these lines offer guidance that’s part self-care but also a “call to action.”
Each line is a succinct guide to engaging creatively with life on a daily basis. With practice, the lines become more than words. They become a prayer framing how you see the world.
Stay in the present time
Ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote:
“What does it mean that success is a dangerous as failure? Whether you go up the ladder or down it, your position is shaky. When you stand with your two feet on the ground, you will always keep your balance.”
The past is gone. If you’re wrestling with unresolved life stuff, you owe it to yourself to take a good long look at the whole happy, horrible, crazy muck of it. It can be all of those things simultaneously. Carrying around the past is dead weight. You deserve better. It’s going to take self-reflection, forgiveness– of yourself and possibly of others– and acceptance. It might not be easy. But it can be done. If you need help, get help. Reflecting on the past may help put it to rest.
The future? It will be better if you stay in the present time and do right by NOW. Then the future will take care of itself.
Seek only the Truth
There’s a difference between what’s “true” and the Truth. We claim ideas or beliefs are “true” all the time, but what we’re actually expressing are preferences. Ideas and beliefs are personal, and therefore frequently in conflict with each other.
The Truth on the other hand, is like gravity. It’s universal. There are basic human truths, and one of the reasons we’re on the planet is to discover those truths for ourselves. Parents can teach us, but the Truth is more powerful when we have discerned it for ourselves. In a social media world, where fake news and alternative facts have become daily reality, we must take responsibility for what we know about the world. Best creative practice? Be skeptical. Don’t settle for hearsay.
At the most fundamental level listen to your intuitive heart. Look at every issue, every person, every angle from a loving and Truth-seeking perspective. Be open to being wrong, which it’s a good idea to admit, should you discover that you are.
Surrender your will to God
Maybe you don’t know what you believe about God. Some people are sure they know. Some people think there’s something out there, but they’re not sure what it is. Is it a power in the Universe? Something larger than we are? No matter what you think, surrender to the notion that IF there is something bigger than you are, there is also a plan bigger than your plan. And even if there isn’t anything out there, being kind and honest beats the alternative, and makes life go smoother for everybody.
Pay attention: we don’t need God to see that “doing to others as we wish they would do to us” is a pretty good rule. The creative approach is to humble yourself. Live every day with a kind heart and an open, compassionate mind. Look around to see what you can do. It’s helpful to stay in present time.
Love is the only true power
What does it mean? It means no matter how offensive, critical or crazy someone is, the best reaction is love. The caring, but impatient part of you may not understand why somebody is screwed up. But try to love them anyway, because that’s how you’d like to be treated yourself. We don’t always understand other people, but we’re all walking the planet essentially alone, and we need each other. While someone else may be willing to walk in your shoes for awhile, no one can get inside your skin.
So part of being loving also includes healthy boundaries. Because it might be desirable to offer love unconditionally, but that doesn’t mean being a pushover. You can love someone and not like their behavior. And call them out on it if you have to, as gently as possible.
The Tao te Ching says:
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
There are endless scenarios for interacting with other people, but before you master those, you must master yourself. You can’t care for, or love anyone else, or decide how to creatively disrupt someone else, until you know yourself intimately. What scares you? What threatens you? Who has power over you — either because you’ve been betrayed or hurt by them in the past, or because you like them so much, you want them to like you. What’s your motivation?
These are hard questions. In order to honor your values and cultivate the self-respect required to walk confidently in the world, the questions must be answered. Harness your energy and deal with the questions. You don’t have to share your answers with anyone, but you definitely need to know the answers yourself.
Honor One Another
It’s always easier to find fault in others, rather than taking a hard look at ourselves. But take a good look we must if we are to evolve into the supremely authentic and loving creatures we were born to be. If you’ve discovered one ounce of prejudice in yourself–whether it’s toward another race or gender, age-related, or the result of early religious or social training– look hard at this prejudice and rebuke it. If you believe life on the planet could be better, you have a responsibility to face down the prejudice lodged in your head.
Remember this prejudice is not an opinion you came in with at birth. You learned it once you got here. Actualizing yourself as the love-centric, creative person you came to the planet to be means acknowledging idiosyncratic faults in yourself. Choose to think and behave differently. When you catch yourself in an old mindset, recalculate and start again.
All is one
We’d like to believe it, but we don’t. The idea is too threatening. You probably know someone who believes there isn’t enough to go around. The glass is half empty. Resources are limited. How will anyone be guaranteed a fair share? Humans default to self-centered behavior when we feel threatened because it’s familiar and convenient. But it isn’t the route to peaceful coexistence on the planet. It may be difficult to believe “All is One” but as Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourner’s Magazine wrote: “Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, and watching the evidence change.”
So choose to act as though you believe that all really is one, and help to change the evidence. Do your part to look for creative solutions to differences that threaten to rupture human connections.
It’s a three-step process: Act. Forgive. Recalculate. Act again. This prayerful cycle is worth embracing.