Need an a-ha moment to get things flowing? Everything in life is a matter of perspective. You come home, make some dinner, sit down on your couch, and all around, there’s silence. Everyone decides for themselves whether that’s loneliness or freedom.
To put 2020 to rest, I need to accept that it is not only the appearance that matters but the positive things that were born from all the upheaval—and there *are* positive things indeed.
For instance, creative thinking is a by-product of social distance.
Creativity is a topic that interests me endlessly. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, reveals a startling fact. Cain reports that brainstorming groups create fewer ideas than the same number of solitary people working alone. Now that sounds half-baked, but when I think back to my many marketing milestones, the lion’s share of my creativity often included only myself.
In retrospect, A Similar Story is an offshoot of the 2020 quarantine. Being holed up in my home pretty much accelerated my creative output. You could say that solitude was my creative boon. Albert Einstein embraced his moments of isolation, too. He once said: “Although I have a regular work schedule, I take time to go for long walks on the beach so that I can listen to what is going on inside my head. If my work isn’t going well, I lie down in the middle of a workday and gaze at the ceiling. At the same time, I listen and visualize what goes on in my imagination.”
Isolation also helped me change the way I think about thinking.
There’s a secret to manifesting an elephant-sized life. Being attached to nothing but connected to everything. There’s a little-known energy switch inside every single person. And once you discover how to trigger it, you can unblock a stream of abundance that will simply carry you away. And I promise you, it won’t take a trip halfway around the world to see elephants. To discover how to flip this energy switch for yourself, all you have to do is sit in nature for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re busy. Then you should sit for one hour.
Still, most people tend to avoid isolation. Research shows that for many people, spending time with themselves is challenging. One interesting study from the University of Virginia indicates that many people prefer giving themselves a painful electric shock to just sitting with their own thoughts for 15 minutes. Loony, right!
Franz Kafka, one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, offered this advice: “You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen; simply wait, just learn to become quiet, still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
Try vibing alone for a bit. You’ll realize a lot. Less mindless hustle. More mindful magic. And the world is absolutely starved for mindful magic.
When staying sane became a challenge, I challenged myself to write a 6-word isolation story.
When absolutely nothing was clear or concise, and our governors were creating insane rules, I decided to play with brevity. But I warn you, boiling down the ingredients and simplifying the complicated is not as easy as it sounds. Pulling out only six words is a veritable masterclass in creative focus.
One of my favorite American writers, Janet Burroway, created a 6-word story as an example of concise and creative storytelling. “All those pages in the fire.”
To say this was an intense activity would give little weight to the experience. At times, I can be quite the lazy storyteller. And when I’m not lazy, it still takes many takes to get it right. But what was challenging about the 6-word story is that it required me to think more deeply. I couldn’t just think about the words that were said, but also those that were left unsaid. After all, with only six words, a lot is left out.
My own hyper-short creation: “Living my best and worst life.”
While there are many other highlights of the year, I’ll wrap this up.
Like I said in the beginning, the world is a reflection of our thinking. Imagine a dark cave that hasn’t been illuminated for a million years. Then one day, someone brings a candle into the cave. Instantaneously the darkness of a million years vanishes. For me, my perspective is a proverbial 7-wick candle.
I challenge you to look closely and to find the bright side of the God-awful 2020, too. Good moments. Tiny victories. Things that were always there but overlooked. Do you see them now?