A topic I love to discuss (and read about) most is ideas: how we get ideas, creative ideas, sharing ideas, appreciating ideas, the transparency of ideas, and how one idea influences other ideas. It’s what prompted me to start writing this blog many years ago, and most recently it’s what brought me to a graduate program studying the science behind Creativity and Innovation.
So I want to share a story about an idea from this morning.
There are many people who suggest keeping a notebook or other means of recording ideas near our beds so that we can write down our dreams as soon as we wake up.
This is not something I do.
(Maybe I don’t think my dreams contain interesting enough ideas? Maybe I don’t feel like I remember them well enough? Maybe I should just give it a try anyway and see where it goes?)
What does happen for me pretty consistently, however, is during the first few seconds of waking up, I tend to have new ideas or think about things in different ways than I had before. It doesn’t feel like the ideas are coming from a dream; it’s not that I remember them from anywhere. It feels much more like I’m eavesdropping on a conversation where my consciousness is greeting my unconsciousness, saying, “Hey, thanks for taking the night shift. I’ve got her now.”
What I do know, though, is that these ideas, the ones that occur during the first few seconds when I’m waking up, are ones that I want to write down. Like any imperfect person, sometimes I do write them down and sometimes I don’t. On the days that I don’t write them down, the ideas pretty much just fade away — something Elizabeth Gilbert might describe as the idea moving along to find someone else to appreciate it and give it the attention it deserves.*
On the days that I do write these early morning ideas down, they often stay with me for the rest of the day.
The idea that awoke with me today was about giving up — or not giving up, rather. At this intersection of conscious and unconscious thought, I must have been thinking (or maybe dreaming?) about recent disappointments and set backs, while still hanging on to the hope that it’s not over yet, that there’s still a lot that can happen and start going well.
The thought was this:
“Don’t give up!
This idea, this juxtaposition of words, came through loudly and clearly. It was persistent, demanding that I give it my full attention.
So I did.
I thought for a while about what it means to “give more,” examples of how and when we give, and instances for when this idea might be applicable to the context of “giving up.”
It reminded me that during times when things aren’t going well — whether it’s something I’m dealing with personally or encountering through someone else — it’s helpful to focus on the things that are going well, and when those are hard to find, focus instead on the things that we can help to go well.
This of course, requires us to give more intentional thought to what we might be ready to give up on.
Though to some it might seem illogical or counterintuitive — to try giving more when we feeling like giving up — it’s really not a complicated idea. It’s an idea that synthesizes resiliency, perseverance, divergent thinking, and grit. It’s not about doing more of the same thing and expecting different results (Einstein’s definition of insanity); it’s about tweaking what we’ve been doing, evolving, pivoting, innovating a little bit so that what we do has more of an impact.
It’s an idea that calls to mind that no matter what is happening (or not happening) for us, that instead of giving up on what we want or we’re working for, we can always give more: give more attention to the task, give more attempts at trying at it, give more effort into coming up with other options, give more praise, give more feedback, give more of ourselves to others who might need help more than we do at that moment, and (the thing that is often hardest for me) is to allow ourselves the patience to give more time – whether we need the time to figure out another strategy — or simply heal.
And so with this phrase, bouncing around with me all morning, I write this blog post. And give it to you.
EVEN MORE IDEAS…
In the way that one idea will often inexplicably bring us to other ideas, this idea made me think, of course, about if and how I might want to share it, but then those thoughts brought me (somehow?) not just to posting on the blog, but to the idea of using the time-lapse feature on my iPhone and the Vine account that I set up and haven’t yet used.
So, with the creative muse still hanging out by my side, urging me to try something new, I grabbed a bucket of markers and a sheet of paper, and I filmed my first-ever time-lapsed video to post on Vine and share with you.
Right now, I’m pretty excited about having a this new mantra to help me navigate through future challenges (and by sharing it, I’m hoping it helps other people, too.) I’m also a little excited about the video and the Vine post. 😉
I can only imagine how my day might be shaping up if I hadn’t slowed down to listen to, and write down, that first early-morning idea.
*An idea Gilbert writes about in her book, Big Magic.