ARE YOU A SURVIVOR?
Financial consultants can help your money problems. Consignment stores can supply good, used clothing, shoes and other useful items. Maybe you can find a roofer who will set up a payment schedule for the repair work. This will help you to survive materially. But, have you noticed that your hopes and positive attitude tanked with the stock market?
We’ve all gone a bit far thinking that running fast and acting quickly will help us become more solvent. Maybe that really just does happen in the movies. In this tumble-down economy, we are running for cover–back to our porches, back to dinners at night around the dining room table, back to short-distance driving, buying cheaper products and looking for sales and low-priced items in the grocery store.
THE CHALLENGES OF TODAY
What if you could change you life to make it better-not only by finding the right roofer, budgeting or ruling out the restaurant, vacation and recreation activities you once enjoyed but now can’t afford. If you can begin to “see” your life differently, you will improve your life. That means changing your definitions of things and expanding your vision. That means moving into areas that are unfamiliar and possibly uncomfortable. But, these changes can improve your outlook. They can enrich your daily pattern of living and erase the darkness and anxiety that comes with the challenges that many face today because of foreclosure, lay-off, inability to make bill payments, re-thinking education options for your children and seeing your family and friend relationships degrade because of those challenges.
There is another way of creating wealth, not financial but starting with your mind. It is creative stimulation that travels towards your productive self and activates all of your brain-so that you have, ultimately, all of your resources for achieving the best life possible. If you base your day by day decisions and reactions on the generic definitions and meanings that you have had in place for years it is like progressing a body of water by slowly stepping from on small stone to another. It will take you a long time to get across that water. But if you can challenge those definitions that you have held in place so long and begin to change them, it will, ultimately, be like diving in from the dock and swimming across the lake.
CHOOSE HOW YOU SEE
An artist trying to depict subject matter is faced with the responsibility of interpretation of that subject matter. Lets say the artist is painting a still life–three oranges, a porcelain pitcher sitting on a linen tablecloth. How will the artist paint them? What oil colors will be chosen? Will there be great attention to detail or will the objects be abstracted in some way so that they are changed. The artist is totally free to use a personal perspective and portray that perspective accurately and convincingly on the canvas. Every brush stroke works towards that goal. A successful painting will depict the subject matter just how the artist meant it to be and this work will enlighten the viewer to the artist’s perspective and interpretation of that perspective.
So what does this have to do with a person that is not an artist and how would this method be valuable to them? Using a creative approach, much like an artist does painting, will help anyone re-define what is important to survive. Here’s how. Many times, especially as we get older, we define things in a certain way and stick quite closely to that definition because it seems that that is what makes our world solid. We have, in other words, a lot of things in our lives “figured out.”
CUP HALF FULL OR HALF EMPTY?
For example, you may always want a beautiful lawn because your father kept a beautiful lawn and that became a set standard with you. Your bank balance may tell you that it is no longer affordable to retain the landscaping company that has kept your lawn beautiful over the past five years. So you call them and discontinue their service. You are sad, because you think you are getting poor, now that you are laid off and the lawn service will just be one of many services and situations you will have to cancel out of your life. You can get depressed at this perspective, or you can see the “subject matter” of your front lawn in a different way. It is up to you to interpret the things that happen in your life. If you see canceling the lawn service as just another sad journey to insolvency and ruin, then that, no doubt, it will become the scenario that will instruct your life to proceed that way.
What if you decide that, although you can’t have the lawn the way you’ve always wanted it, you do have other options: You can, for instance, zeroscape it by putting in shrubs and mulch and reducing the high maintenance grass factor. You can make a decision to just live with the lawn the way it is and not worry about it. You can decide to do the landscape work yourself. It would be good exercise and now that you have the time…
Whatever your decision, you have migrated from a set definition “must have a beautiful lawn” to “zeroscape” or whatever option you have chosen. You are in control, you are totally responsible for your decision, you will not become depressed because you can’t have something, but work towards fill in that void with something else. Your pro-active decision is a brushstroke that is working towards a wonderful creative work.
REALITY-IS LIFE A PAINTING?
Yes. Life is like a painting. Let’s go back to the lawn scenario. You’ve stopped the landscaping company services and have chosen to zeroscape. You study up on zeroscaping on the internet and begin changing your front yard. In three months you have completed the project and are quite happy with the results, especially when the summer brings hot and dry weather, neighbor’s sprinklers are working overtime, and you are sitting on your porch overlooking glistening green shrubs, drought tough flowers deeply mulched and small plots of very green grass drip irrigated. The landscape you have created only happened because you didn’t give into your old ideas, i.e. “if I can’t a big green lawn like everyone else, I’m ruined. I’m a slacker, a misfit, I’m broke.”
Is this much different from an artist going out to the woods, setting up the easel and putting down on canvas what is in front of him/her? Each brushstroke is a decision to change what we call “reality” into a “reality” on the canvas. If the artist is successful in achieving the desired results, then the painting is good because it meets what the artists wanted to do.
Back to your front yard. When you chose to change it according to what you wanted, each effort worked towards that goal and you created the “reality” that you wanted. And you were successful, too. You achieved, with your efforts, what the artist did with brushstrokes on a canvas. Perhaps you will say that the front yard is more real than the painting. Consider the power of the mind as a reality. In each case, something was changed by a decision and in that respect, the reality of the painting and the reality of the front yard are the same. Both were changed-one by your zeroscaping labors, and one by the artist’s brushstrokes.
SO PAINT YOUR LIFE!
If you can see the relationship these two actions have, you can see that you have the power to challenge each definition you have. The true power lies in changing those definitions that seem to be destroying your world or affecting it in a negative way. You must ask, at that point, how you can change it, how you can switch out the negative for the positive. True, this is no new self help philosophy, however, relating it to the creative experience is a different angle. Different because creative thinking is positive thinking in that it has the power to change definitions that affect our lives for the better. So paint your life! Paint over what you don’t want by changing your definitions and paint in what you do want by applying physical and mental action. Let the challenges of these times be a canvas for the masterpiece of your life!