On day 44 of my #100HappyDays journey, I attended a TEDTalks LIVE event in NYC.
The focus of the event was War and Peace and it was hosted by Baratunde Thurston. Since I’m really interested in the impact that we each have on one another and I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on social psychology, this was a really timely topic for me.
Each speaker was amazing. At the beginning of the night, Baratunde Thurston said that our minds were going to grow throughout the evening and grow they did. He cautioned us that we were going to experience “hopespiranger”* during the course of the evening, and I can say for sure that I did.
I saw the bright yellow copy of The Power of Others sitting on a shelf of new releases at the library. I didn’t recognize the title, but I hoped that it was on a topic I am very interested in right now, how individuals have influence over one another, our actions, and our ideas. Sure enough, the subtitle assured me that I had found what I was looking for; it read: Peer Pressure, Groupthink, and How the People Around Us Shape Everything We Do.
As I’m beginning a new concentration of studies on Creativity and Innovation, I’m finding that the concept of social psychology keeps popping up. Yes, there are some individuals who are perceived as being more creative or innovative than others, but why? Is it something specific within the individual? Something specific that they do? Is it the way the individual reacts to those around them that they become more creative? Is it the way the individual is perceived by others that makes them seem be innovative?
For anyone looking to better understand social psychology and the impact we have on one another, The Power of Others by Michael Bond is a perfect read. Bond discusses various aspects of social psychology by using personal interviews and research along with explorations of well-known events in recent history to outline associated behaviors and motivating factors. He addresses how we can begin to feel emotions expressed by those around us, how our individual behavior changes when we are in crowds, factors that can contribute to one person harming another, our concept of what a hero is, how our shared experiences create bonds, why our differences and commonalities can bring us together or pull us apart, and what can happen if we are without others altogether.
Though I don’t yet have all of the answers to my questions, this book has helped me better understand the concept of social psychology and reinforce the idea that there is most definitely a strong connection between our ideas and the power of others.
For the last nine years or so, I’ve been contributing to one blog or another. (Nine years!? That’s almost a decade! Where has the time gone?) The very first blog I kept was started by a colleague (Thanks, Tom!) for me to use with my students, others I’ve started myself for public consumption, and there are others that I’ve written posts for and contributed to from afar. (This blog was my second one. After starting the first blog with my students, I tried my hand at blogging about things other than what my students and I were doing in class. It was fun. This blog, in particular, challenged me to write in a variety of ways and on a variety of topics, and “put myself out there” as a writer — an aspect of my writing that I am still trying to improve upon today. I always considered this blog my “writer’s notebook” that I was willing to share with anyone who might be interested in reading it.)
Without getting into all of the psychology behind the concept of blogging — which would be material for an entire publication in and of itself (for example, I know that I absolutely wrote some blog posts that I never would have written if I didn’t have the urgency of a deadline or of a waiting audience prompting me forward) — blogs have become part of our world and will certainly remain so for a long while to come. Blogs are our opportunity as writers (otherwise known simply as thinkers) to put out ideas into the world, with only ourselves as editors. The posts often contain our purest thoughts, our most raw and vulnerable work. Other people may read our ideas. Other people may not even ever see the blog or know it exists. Regardless, at the end of the day, an idea posted to a blog is out there in the universe. It’s floating around, showing up in keyword searches, getting promoted on social media, just doing its thing.
For me, the content of my blog posts have changed as my life has changed. I’ve questioned how much personal information I should share and when (perhaps holding back more than is always necessary). I’ve dabbled with a variety of writing styles. I’ve been serious. I’ve been fun (or, I’ve had fun, at least). It’s been a hodgepodge of producing content whenever the muses demanded it.
Now, I find myself searching for ways to connect it all. The good, the bad, the ugly, the what was thinking when I wrote and posted that? All of it. It all originated from the same place, so what do I do with it now? Do I revisit the ideas? Do I revise and edit them to make them better? Do I find as many of them and delete them so I can start anew? I don’t know.
What I do know, is that I have been reflecting a lot lately, thinking more and more about each of the posts I’ve written in the past, thinking about my thinking. I’ve remembered many of them nearly word for word, and still there are others that I when I read them now I don’t even recall having written them. This body of work I’ve created over the last ten years is now screaming out to me for some glue. I’ve been thinking about the process of each individual idea and how they came to be.
All of this reflection has steered me toward a newfound appreciation for the field of psychology and a new graduate program. I’m excited to start new graduate work, studying innovation and creativity, studying why and where ideas originate, and what we can do with all of this innovative thinking.
In particular, I’ve been thinking a lot about the collective contributions to ideas, the butterfly effect of all the seemingly small happenings of seemingly regular moments.
THE FUTURE I write about education. I write about New Jersey. Most recently, I’ve been writing about innovation. I don’t think the answer I’m looking for is as simple as writing about how innovation is impacting education in New Jersey (though that would be a very tidy bundle and something I could certainly do), but I do think there is a connection that needs to be made. Over the years, I’ve also written about my love for books, written book reviews, and shared some life lessons. Writing, in one way or the other, has been a huge part of who I am and a major part of my process, and I know that it will continue to be as my work evolves.
At this point in time, I am not entirely sure where this work is going to go, but more than ever, I know it is going somewhere pretty great. One thing for sure is that it’s bringing me back to this blog, to my public “writer’s notebook” where I can chronicle my new adventures in thought. I’ve felt the pull back here a few times before, but this time feels different. This time feels like it did way back in 2008 when I first started the blog. This time, it feels like home.
If you’re interested in sticking around with me while I embark on this “thought journey,” and share my work, I would be delighted. Leave a comment, share your ideas. We will figure it out together. #WWFIOT