Creativity

Humans = Emotional Creatures Bound Together By Stories

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Author and marketer, Dale Carnegie famously said: “When dealing with people, remember, you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” The popular belief that “emotions are the curse of logic” places logic and emotion in an antagonist relationship. However, as Carnegie points out, once we accept humanity as more emotionally-driven than rational, we can make peace with our nature.

Recent neuroscience concerning decision-making seeks to identify just how our mental processes works. In Forbes’s “How The Most Common Emotions Affect Business Decision Making And What To Do About It,” Erik Larson claims that “scientists have found that without emotions we [would] become completely ineffective at making decisions.” Neurologist, Antonio Damasio, came to a similar conclusion in his book, Descartes’ Error. Damasio claimed that the separation of mind and body, of logic and emotion was in fact an “error.” 

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There is also a profound connection between memory and emotion based on our capacity to create and store powerful internal images. Ask someone to recall where they were when they learned of the 9/11 attacks and most likely, they can paint a visual picture of the scene for you. As human beings, our combination of memory backed by potent feelings allows us to recall important information in a truly functional way. The stronger the emotion, the more powerful the memory, the more it resonates in our being.

So where does logic come in? One place it can be seen is in classical rhetoric. Rhetoric, defined as the combination of persuasion and argumentation, is derived from the teachings of Aristotle and Plato. The main thrust of classical rhetoric suggests the emotional impact of any narrative is essential to the retention of its meaning.

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The power of narrative is something that should not be overlooked. As the co-creators of our own lives, our ongoing role is to inspire, compel, and persuade. No matter what we do or what business we are in, we have the capacity to shape meaning through hearts and minds (emotionally and logically.)

Every day we write the stories of our lives through running narratives. This doesn’t mean all of us are writing things down or penning articles or books—instead, each of one of us is constantly telling stories to get what we want. Just think about the stories we tell every day to get what we desire. The server informs his table how the fresh salmon came to be on the menu. The lawyer narrates her client’s actions in court.

Once we recognize life is made up of lots of little stories told by different people and that these are most effectively understood through the filter of our emotions, we can better achieve what we seek.

The power of the narrative extends to all facets of our lives. Let’s use it wisely.

At Ink Wordsmiths, we specialize in content marketing empowering professionals to connect with their audiences in an emotional way that converts. If you are interested in learning more about our process, contact me today @hello@inkwordsmiths.com.

Why I Do What I Do

I recently listened to Joe Rogan interview the very talented Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys. Several times in the Podcast, Rogan couldn’t help remarking how tremendous it was to hear someone so passionate about what they do. Auerbach adores making music. It’s in his soul. All day he long he gets to do what he loves. How great is that?

What we’re talking about here is passion. Passion is an incredible thing. Little kids have it when they play. My son has it and he’s a year and half old. How do I know this? Because when he starts playing with his “tet-tet” (his word for a train) nothing can distract him. Time seems to disappear.

Time disappears in a different way for people as they age. The exigencies of life force us to become “serious” and get a job. Jobs don’t engender passion. They’re what we have to do to participate in society. Unfortunately, if we are not careful, our passion can ebb and ebb until we are no longer in the present. We are merely fulfilling obligations. We are bereft of former passions.

I meditate every day. My instructor, Light Watkins, once taught me that after you are done repeating your mantra you should do something constructive to cool down for two minutes. I use my cool down period to say what I am grateful for. I always say to myself that I am grateful to be a writer. People have told me how refreshing it is to see someone so passionate about something that their enthusiasm feels contagious.

So why do I do what I do? Joy.

When I was a little kid, my “tet-tets” were Star Wars Action figures and G.I Joes. I loved story-telling. I used to make up elaborate tales about my toys which I would play out in real-time. That was my passion. As I got older, I planned my life so that I could continue telling stories. Like Auerbach, even if there was no paying attention, I would still do what I love. I would still write.

That’s how you know you’re passionate about something. What are you passionate about?

“Big Magic” and the Provocative Theory of Ideas as Living Entities

Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book on inspiring creativity, Big Magic contains a startling notion. It is Gilbert’s unusual contention that ideas exist on this planet in the same way other sentient entities, such as humans, cats and bugs do. Unabashed in her assertion, Gilbert owns her words by suggesting not only does magic exist — but it exists in the same deliriously whimsical way that say, Hogwarts does.

So what are these disembodied entities Gilbert speaks of? Are they platonic ideals our earthly realm deigns to duplicate as droll but ultimately derivative facsimiles of the one true source? No. Ideas exist in the psychic sphere, beckoning us to bring them forth as physical manifestations. The only hindrance to their expression is our own creative will.

Gilbert speaks of inspiration in the same way the ancient Greeks used to talk about genius. People weren’t geniuses. They possessed a genius: an attendant inner spirit assigned to each person at birth. The modern conception of creativity usually features an individual tapping into the flow, “being in the zone.” A more alchemical, non-rational viewpoint such as Gilbert’s or even the teachings of Carlos Castaneda, would suggest that life is a lot weirder than we presently fathom. When we usher in ground-breaking concepts from the deep recesses of our unconsciousness, we are not so much plucking proto-thought forms from the Idea Tree, we are actually summoning forth ideas as beings.

Likening ideas to freewheeling Jinns evokes a kind of pleasing fairy tale aspect to the creative process. It suggests that powerful thoughts have a kind of plasticity and can flitter in and out of people’s heads, symbiotically interacting with their hosts. If the person is willing to put in the necessary time and focus towards manifesting the idea, then the entity will remain loyal, whispering in their ear sweet nothings until both the creator and the created are validated by the effort. Likewise, an idea not nourished, not lovingly wrought, will engender nothing corporeal and will assuredly dissipate into the ether before passing to the next willing collaborator.

Such unusual meditations on creativity’s nature will assuredly inflame critics eager to denounce anything smacking so highly of the suspect mystic. But even those ideas have their rightful place if we are to consider Gilbert’s provocative notion. More interesting than that old debate is the pragmatic implication. Do we dare birth heart-stopping ideas when they playfully dance on the edges of our dreams? Shall we take the lead of fearless thinkers, like Copernicus, two-stepping with alien thoughts and thus birthing our Heliocentric cosmology? Shall we shrink from the sight of wild new economic paradigms? Groundbreaking artistic forms? Divergent new modes of existing?

One last thing. Gilbert points out that what makes humans so special is our ability to be creative. Excavated works of art predate practical antiquities by thousands and thousands of years. That means the primal urge towards creativity was far more pressing than the rigors of farming and livestock domestication. We were put here to be creative. Let’s find ways to live up to that ideal.