Dear friend, one of the secrets of ‘true’ happiness in life: focus on your own ‘creative flourishing’.


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PDF: Creative Flourishing


Eudaemonia

Tree shadow. Boston, 2018
Tree shadow. Boston, 2018

The Greek definition for “happiness” was ‘eudaemonia’, which means “human flourishing.”

In modern times, we think that “happiness” is feeling pleasure (sexual pleasure, pleasure from novelty, pleasure from eating) and avoidance of pain. We think we will be happy once we are free of struggle in life, when we no longer worry and concern ourselves with finances, and once we can just sit at home and do nothing– but what kind of life is this?

I think true happiness is living a life full of adventure and for you to creatively flourish!


Creative flourishing

Yellow shrub. Boston, 2018
Yellow shrub. Boston, 2018

You’re a monster of energy; latent energy waiting to be exploited. You’re an atom, waiting to be split open. You’re waiting to explode with creative energy.

Another way to think about this: you’re an untapped fountain, desiring to keep flowing with creativity.

For myself, I am happiest when I am creatively flowing– whether I’m creating stuff (writing, making photos, making music, making videos) or when I am remixing and sampling ideas. I love the creative challenge of ingesting ideas, and trying to export these ideas in a novel format.

In practical terms, to me, ‘creative flourishing’ means to constantly create (without hesitation), to constantly come up with new ideas, and to do without fear.


Apotheosis

Contact sheet: Walking woman, Lisbon 2018
Contact sheet: Walking woman, Lisbon 2018

A concept I got from the philosopher Nietzsche is the idea of ‘apotheosis’. This means self-deification (APO = from / THEO = God).

Walking woman. Lisbon, 2018
Walking woman. Lisbon, 2018

In modern times, we feel disempowered, because we no longer have faith in ourselves, and many of us don’t feel that we have the power to control our own fate and our own lives. Thus, we fall into “nihilism” (the philosophy that there is no purpose in life [nihil means nothing], thus nihilism is the philosophy of ‘nothingness’).

Lisbon abstract walking woman Golden triangle
Abstract: Walking woman. Lisbon, 2018

I am the ultimate anti-nihilist. I believe that life is meaningful and purposeful. And the fun thing is this:

We can dictate our own purpose in life.

This means you have ultimate control over your life. You can dictate your own values in life. You can create your own culture. You don’t need to fit into the mold that society dictates of you. Rather, you can create your own mold. Your own mold of yourself.

My hand. Lisbon, 2018
My hand. Lisbon, 2018

Create like a child

Happy face. Lisbon, 2018
Happy face. Lisbon, 2018

I think the first step to becoming a ‘creator’ or to be creation-focused in life is to create like a child.

Let us study children: they create without hesitation, they create without self-criticism, and they create without thinking too much.

Abstract yellow man. Lisbon, 2018
Abstract yellow man. Lisbon, 2018

I believe true genius in art is to create from your child-like instinct. It means to create art from your own intuition, and to make things that bring you joy, and to not worry too much about what others will think of your artwork.

In simple words,

Create what brings you joy.

The problem with modern art and social media is this:

We care too much about what others think of our artwork, rather than considering what we think of our own artwork.

Social media, Instagram, Facebook has fucked up our sense of self-esteem. We care too much about the likes and comments we get from others, and quantify our self-worth as artists via numbers. To become a truly robust artist, we must look at our own artwork by ourselves, and judge it uncompromisingly in our own eyes.

Cindy with red scarf, blue tiled walls. Lisbon, 2018
Cindy with red scarf, blue tiled walls. Lisbon, 2018

Only allow yourself to dictate whether your artwork is good or not. Never look over your shoulder to worry about how others judge your artwork.


Practical ideas on creative flourishing

My mom taking photos of flowers. Lisbon, 2018
My mom taking photos of flowers. Lisbon, 2018

To creatively flourish, you must be ACTIVE. Avoid any passive forms of entertainment or ‘decompression’.

GO HARD // be active, dynamic. Be dynamite!

My mom taking photos of flowers. Lisbon, 2018
My mom taking photos of flowers. Lisbon, 2018

Practical ideas to create more, and to flourish more:

1. Uninstall, block, or delete any passive distractions.

Fire alarm. Boston, 2018
Fire alarm. Boston, 2018

For myself, I no longer own a phone in order for me to tune out distractions and focus. I have aggressive ad-blocking on all my browsers (I have the ‘Purify’ ad-blocker app for Safari on my iPad) and use ‘1 Blocker’ on my MacBook. I check my email to an absolute minimum. I don’t watch TV, nor do I follow the news. I know that I am easily distracted, and the only way for me to ‘focus’ is to kill distractions.

2. Move more:

Tokyo Dutch angle, 2018
Tokyo Dutch angle, 2018

Some of my best ideas happen when I am walking or in movement. Nassim Taleb said, “To become a philosopher, start by walking.” Nietzsche said, “All great ideas are conceived by walking!” For myself, when I get burnt out from working, I go for a long and aimless walk, and I use that time to think and come up with ideas. I truly think that a sedentary lifestyle is inimical (deleterious/harmful) to a creative lifestyle.

Abstract: Tokyo umbrella, 2018
Abstract: Tokyo umbrella, 2018

3. Get into a creative state of flow with music:

Any music which makes me productive is good music. I like to listen to hip hop, jazz, and blues music– because it gets my muscles moving. I will sometimes start dancing by myself for fun, or I start bobbing my head. This gets me in the mood to create (whether making pictures, whether writing, making videos, etc). Choose whatever music which gets you in the zone.

4. Become a modern-day renaissance person:

Golden triangle composition in yellow. Lisbon, man in suit, 2018
Golden triangle composition in yellow. Lisbon, man in suit, 2018

If we study geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci, we will see that he didn’t limit himself to one art-form or field. He combined sciences, arts, and engineering. The genius of Steve Jobs and Apple was combining the humanities with technology. Don’t put any limits on your creativity.

Study anything and everything, and as my friend Chris Dillow says, “Assume you can do anything.” Go on Google and search for free PDF textbooks on any topics (Physics 101 PDF, Computer Science 101 PDF, Neural Networks 101 PDF) and research and study great artists on wikiart.org.

Blurry Cindy shot through foggy car window. Boston, 2018
Blurry Cindy shot through foggy car window. Boston, 2018

Make any form of art (whether analogue or digital). Use Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign. Use iMovie, Final Cut Pro, GarageBand, Logic Pro X. Use IA Writer, Ulysses, and Google Docs to write. Make your own ebooks with Apple iBooks Author, or just print out a magazine (“zine”) on your computer printer. Learn how to sketch, paint, and just pursue any random artistic interests you have. Don’t define yourself as an artist– do anything and everything.

5. Publish things which you consider 80% “good enough”.

Perfection is boring and overrated. Treat your artwork as a stream — just keep publishing, and flowing with the stream. I would also recommend starting your own blog or website (your own platform) to share your artwork (bluehost.com and wordpress.org) or wordpress.com.


Create more, Flourish more

Sometimes to even live is an act of bravery.

I have no idea what your situation is in life, but regardless of how shitty, dark, or hopeless things may seem — realize, you can always make art. You have access to digital tools, the internet, and leverage all of your skills, talents, and strengths to MAKE, to CREATE, and to FLOURISH!

Find any and every opportunity to make and create. Write blog posts on your phone when you’re commuting. When you’re bored at work, study art or brainstorm of ideas of starting your own business.

The ultimate way to become ‘antifragile‘ in life:

Turn any disadvantage in your life into an advantage.

Never stop creating and flourishing!
ERIC


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