I´m sure you´ve had the feeling that you want to be creative, but you just can´t figure out how or where to start. It´s as if you feel like you have so many amazing things inside you that it´s no idea to start. Maybe you´re afraid that your skills won´t match the perfect vision in your head. Afraid to fail. Maybe you feel the pressure from your extraordinary idea. You want to create something so good that you never know how to start, because the start will never live up to your expectations. The start of your creation will never be as good as the result you´re imagining inside your head.
I´ll give you an example: I have tons of ideas for books. Every time I get an idea I think: Yes! That´s it! I´m going to write a story about the sadness in the world, and about someone who beats the system, rescues the world and sees through it all. The language is going to be beautiful, musical and poetical. My book will change the lives of people who read it. They will finally see through my eyes and understand wha´ts wrong with the world. And because the book will be a best seller (well… of course!) I will literally change the world!
This sounds greatl, right? Nothing wrong with changing the world. But think about that pressure. The pressure you lay on yourself when you immediately imagine how your book is going to be read by millions of people. A happy dream of being loved by thousends of fans from around the world. A happy dream of reaching out, of getting the chance to scream out your message to the world.
This is beautiful. I´ts a good feeling to want to change something. It´s a great goal to want to reach out, to share your wisdom with others. But it´s also very dangerous. If you´re setting your goals too high, chances are that you won´t even start climbing that ladder. You feel that the goal is so far away, that you might not even bother to get going. From where you stand, you have no idea if you will ever have the time to reach your goal.
But you know what? Forget the ladder! Forget the goal! Life is not built like that anyway. Life is not a bunch of ladders to climb or roads to follow. Life is chaos. Life is constantly rinning water, a never ending storm. Life is what it is and you can only control small parts of it. You can control the life that is you. Do you want to change the world? Start by changing your own world!
Stop seeing the creative process as a ladder to climb. Your creativity is not a road with one start and one end. Your creativity is a plant that is constantly growing inside you. A plant that needs water, like the rest of your soul. Your creativity is the wind created by the flap of the wings of the little blue bird inside you. Your creativity deserves to be taken serioulsy, without you running around trying to label it. What does success have to do with writing a book, or recording an album or starting up your own business? Nothing!
We too easily mistake success for happiness. It´s not the same thing! If your goal is to succeed with your creativity, you will only see your achievments in relation to that big sucess. And you are bound to feel like a failure. Because nothing will ever feel big enough to make you happy. But you believe that success is what makes you happy, so you continue to fight for your dream of success, because you believe that you just haven´t succeeded enough yet. You believe that the success has to be bigger than this in order to feel happy. Otherwise you should already be happy. But success and happiness isn´t the same thing. In fact, they are very different. Success has to do with reaching your goals. Success is like the payment you get after one days hard work. Success is when you finally get to sit down and eat the meal that you´ve cooked for several hours, after working to earn money for the food. Success is winning a photography challenge that you´ve entered. You can succeed in a challenge, in a career. But that doesn´t make you happy automatically.
So what is happiness?
Happiness is when you feel content with what you have. Happiness is when you can sit down with a cup of tea, enjoying your own company, resting after one days joy or misery. Happiness is being able to be in your life without anxiety. Happiness is waking up in the morning with a joyful feeling, a feeling that anything can happen during the day. Happiness is feeling the opportunities of your life. Happiness is to not let worry or fear rule your life. Happiness is to be brave enough to spend a whole summers day out alone in the nature, feeling free and perfectly happy just where you are. Happiness is to not lay your life on the future. Happiness is to be free from worry. Happiness is the wisdom to cease the day.
Do you think that success can give you all of this?
When we long for success, we long for the love of others. If I were to write a book and it would be a bestseller, it wouldn´t matter if it wasn´t real people who bought my books and actually shared my story with me. Just the number doesn´t mean anything. In the end, what truly means something is love and understanding. I believe that´s what we all want, deep inside of us. I believe that we all want to be creative because we need to share our story with someone else. We feel good if we can reach out, share something and listen to each other. That is beautiful. That is what counts. It´s in the act of sharing that we´re fulfilling ourselves. When we give to each other (even if it´s a silly selfie, a pretentious book trilogy or a piece of music on soundcloud) we are showing ourselves to the world. We all want to be understood by someone. We want to feel that someone out there gets us. That someone out there can relate to us.
Modern life teaches us to never be happy. Money is involved, and if companies are going to be able to sell their products to us, they need us to feel discontent and not fully satisfied. If we were perfectly happy with what we had, why would we want to spend money on something new that we don´t really need? We learn to long for success. We learn to long for so many shallow things: fame, money, status, success. But what we truly need is to feel loved and accepted just as we are.
The reason I wanted to write this article is because I know a lot of people who struggle with getting started with a creative project. And I believe that this is the reason. We all need to let go of the pressure and see the reason why we´re actually creating. We are creating because we want to express ourselves and share our view of the world with others. Don´t let thoughts about fame or success or great and bad reviews get in the way. Deep inside, that´s not what you want anyway. Those things won´t make you happy. You don´t have to take it so seriously. You never have control over other peoples reactions to your creative work, so you have to let that go. When you start thinking about that painting you want to paint, don´t think any further! Don´t think about the result or about the big picture. Don´t think about how you want other people to see it, or how they should look at your art. Just start painting!
Stop being so damn ambitious. Honestly! You don´t have to save the world. In fact, you can´t save the world. No one can save the world. Not by themselves. We can all save our own world, step by step. You can live in your own creative world, by being creative. You can fulfill yourself by creating for yourself, and share it with the people you like. And that´s enough. Happiness won´t come any faster if you start producing hit music. Happiness is not the same as success. Success is not the same as creative flow. To fulfill yourself is not the same as being famous. To succeed it to take your own ideas seriously and not let anything come in your way.