The Creativity Cure

A do-it-yourself prescription for happiness

Is It Better to Stick With What You Already Have?

Consistency, Creativity and Stillness in a Fast Moving Culture

My patients increasingly complain about unending software updates and nanosecond turnover in their work and technological lives. Device updates and pressure to purchase newer versions with more bells and whistles can be costly as well as time consuming. And it is not just technology. Since store inventory changes so fast, replacing a valued item may not be possible. My patient James often says, “Nothing has lasting meaning anymore.”

Learning is exciting and keeps you on your toes but too much can take a toll. While adaptation is a life necessity, effortful switches that do not provide true improvement can be wearing. Fatigue, a symptom of both depression and anxiety is ubiquitous. In my practice, I often hear about stress and exhaustion from keeping up with a million bits and pieces. As Willa Cather once said, “The details sink your soul.” Expending your energy on minutia, instead of something that truly moves you may engender that sinking feeling.

Fast change/high-flash culture habituates you to novelty and excitement and can feel fun or freeing. However, abundant outer stimulation can stifle unique pleasures that come from stillness. Nothingness, emptiness and boredom create internal energy. A flowing internal life sparks rather than saps. Low stimulation states evoke ideas, solutions, imaginings, daydreams, private delights and interesting thoughts from your deeper mind – your unconscious. Creative thinking flourishes with mental space, time, quiet and routine. The Creative Habit, a book by choreographer Twyla Tharp, explains how mundane ritual conjures deeper material.

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“Still waters run deep,” is another way of thinking about it. What is deep? Depth involves what is meaningful to you. Maybe you have reached the point when you are psychologically or practically able to do what you have always wanted to do. Passions or purpose reveal themselves if you are in a receptive state of mind. Running thither may deprive you of the opportunity to discover something within that could change your perspective, direction or even your life.

The thirst for novelty and desire for consistency are both primitive needs. There is a time for everything. Invite both ways of being into your life by being aware of when change is useful and when sameness is essential. It takes courage to hold fast.

 

Carrie Barron, M.D., is a psychiatrist and co-author of The Creativity Cure: A Do-It Yourself Prescription for Happiness, which she wrote with her husband, Alton Barron.

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