Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

Tara Sophia Mohr, Playing Big. Find Your VOICE, Your MISSION, and Your MESSAGE.

On the Hard Days…

Last week we talked about the power of creativity – and how simple acts of “everyday creativity” leave us feeling more energized, enthusiastic, connected, and purposeful.

Today I want to talk about the other direction: does being in a great mood help us be creative?

The findings on this are pretty interesting. Some studies show that positive affect (enthusiasm, cheerfulness, calm) does increase a person’s likelihood to be creative – but, here’s the catch: only on the same day as their good mood.

In other words, a good mood on Monday will make it easier for you to do creative things on Monday, but it has no impact on whether you’ll be creative on Tuesday. Tuesday’s state of mind will drive that.

We start all over – a blank slate – needing our own rituals and routines (or the good mood of that day if you are lucky) to help us be more creative. All of us who are trying to be consistently creative know this already, right?!

If a good mood makes you more likely to be creative on any given day, the corollary is that it will be harder to get yourself to do a creative activity when you are feeling down, which is often when you need that healing power of creativity most.

So, think about how you can give yourself extra supports – creative rituals, time blocked off in your calendar, an accountability buddy – if you want to be creative (and get the mood lift that comes with it) when you are feeling down.

For this week’s weekly practice, here’s what I want to invite you to do:

Be creative in some way each day. You can do this by engaging in a little art-making daily, but more simply you can do it by taking a new or original approach to the mundane and regular things you do in the day. Get creative with what you cook for dinner, or what you wear for the day. Make up a song on your commute, or add fifteen minutes of improv dance to your evening routine. (If you didn’t yet, download my 50 Simple Ways to Be Creative HERE.)

Notice how your mood impacts whether you find it easy or hard to do something creative. Recognize that (if your experience is aligned with the research) it’s probably going to be harder to be creative when your mood is gloomy or angry, and give yourself lots of extra supports for being creative on these days. Or, give yourself a structure (like a time in your calendar) or some reminders to be creative every day, so it will be there for you when it is hard.

Join us for a conversation about this in the Weekly Practice Facebook group. And, once again, get the 50 Simple Ways to Be Creative download HERE.

Love,

Tara

50 Ways to Practice Everyday Creativity

What is “everyday creativity?”

It’s something you and I can do in the midst of our busy lives, no matter what kind of work we do. It’s something we can do in the midst of commutes and carpool, pitch decks and client meetings. It’s also something we can do in the midst of grief, chronic health challenges, or hard times of transition.

Everyday creativity is thinking about new ideas over the course of the day.
It is expressing yourself in an original way.
Or, it can be making something artistic – painting, writing, drawing, dancing, making music, etc.

A recent study looked at the impact of this kind of creativity. Six hundred young adults kept daily records of how much “everyday creativity” they engaged in – from making things to coming up with new ideas – and then reported on their moods.

Here’s what the study found: doing simple acts of creativity led to them being more energized, and to them having an increased sense of meaning and connectedness, not just in the moment of their creativity, but all the way through the following day.

As found in this study, everyday creativity has its strongest affect on two particular dimensions of our wellbeing:

One is what researchers call “high activation positive affect” –  how energetic, enthusiastic, and excited one feels.

The second dimension enhanced by creativity is what researchers call “flourishing” – a measure of how much meaning, engagement, and connectedness we feel.

Doing something creative on one day had a significant affect on how much participants agreed with statements like these both on the day-of, and the following day: “Today, I led a purposeful and meaningful life;’ ‘Today, I was engaged and interested in my daily activities;’ ‘Today, my social relationships were supportive and rewarding.’

Daily creative activity had more moderate affects on calm and contentment. And interestingly, it had its smallest affect – not a statistically significant one – on states like happiness, cheerfulness or feeling pleasant.

This finding supports what artists know and often preach: creating doesn’t always make you “happy” or “cheerful” – that isn’t the point. But it does give you something deeper – a greater sense of meaning and connectedness, and a kind of energy and vitality.

Interesting to note: this study also looked at whether people with different personality types were impacted differently by everyday creativity. They were not. These positive effects on mood were universal.

So, following on last week’s post on expressive writing, this week’s practice is to tap the positive power of everyday creativity.

That can mean singing in the car on your way to work (and why not make up the song while you are at it?). It can be taking 15 minutes to journal. It can mean doodling or drawing or pulling out your kid’s paints for yourself. It can also mean doing some creative problem-solving. There are tons of options. In fact, I’ve put together 50 Simple Ways to Be Creative to help you get going. You can download it HERE.

Join us for a conversation about this in the Weekly Practice Facebook group. And, once again, get the 50 Simple Ways to Be Creative download HERE.

Love,

Tara

White Hot Truth

Today I’m thrilled to share with you a passage from White Hot Truth, the new book by Danielle LaPorte.

From Danielle:

“For the longest time, I thought that joy was, ultimately, our true nature, the centre of our centre. That assumption felt close, but not quite there. After much more making, meditating, struggling, succeeding, raging, chanting, sweetening, risking, respecting, humbling, healing, and inquiring, I believe this:

 

Joy is what happens when you
make contact with your Soul.

 

When I meet my Soul–in a moment of reflection that brings a revelation, in the ecstatic passion of merging, in the simplest of intimacies with moonlight or strangers at the corner store–then I experience joy.

When I am being as me as I can possibly be, well, that’s euphoria, no matter what my expression results in. When I see how the Cosmic Genius animates every single detail of my life to make up the Grand Scheme of it, I feel incredible joy–so much that it fills me up and I rationalize that I must be made of the stuff.

Your joy is where you locate your white hot truth–your pure-burning is-ness, from where you have the creative power to turn thought into matter. You want to know who you are? Follow the joy, it’s your Soul’s reflection.”

What if we take Danielle’s words to heart: “You want to know who you are? Follow the joy, it’s your Soul’s reflection.”

What brings you joy? What does that tell you about who you really are, and what you really want?

For more of Danielle’s stirring wisdom, get the book here.

Love,

Tara



Writing Heals

There is a lot swirling in me these days, a lot that is churning and changing. It is slowly settling in to my consciousness that I am in fact now a mother of two. That there are two little people who every day need me a lot. I am trying to find time for myself, my body, my marriage, the baby and the preschooler, my work, my home, my friends, my extended family, my country. And time keeps slipping right through my fingers.

I am often up in the middle of the night – because the baby wakes up to eat, or because the pacifier got stuck under her ear, or she rolled and startled herself – and I haven’t yet mastered the skill of falling asleep on cue, the moment she’s asleep again. It’s not just that the adrenaline from her waking cry is still flowing through me, it’s also that once awakened my soul can’t resist staying up in a silent house – something that is almost never offered to me in the daytime.

Sometimes, now, when the house is silent and I can’t sleep, I write. My body needs the sleep but my soul needs the writing. I write my check-in with myself. Where I am now. What is hurting. What is unclear. What is becoming clear. Sometimes, I just write what happened today – the moments or words I want to capture, or experience again.

I haven’t journaled like this, plain and simple writing for me, in a while. I’ve been reminded at how magical it is.

This week’s practice is my passing on the reminder: to write. Write how you are feeling, what’s happening, where you are.

You know, it’s not just subjective, anecdotal experiences of journaling that suggest it is incredibly healing. There are a host of studies that show it.

In one study, people who wrote about a difficult emotional experience in their lives for just a few days in a row, for just 15-20 minutes a day, experienced these benefits, among others :

    •   Fewer stress-related visits to the doctor
    •   Improved immune system functioning
    •   Reduced blood pressure
    •   Improved mood/affect
    •   Feeling of greater psychological well-being
    •   Reduced depressive symptoms before examinations
    •   Reduced absenteeism from work
    •   Quicker re-employment after job loss
    •   Improved working memory
    •   Improved sporting performance
    •   Higher students’ grade point average

Seriously, if there was a drug on the market you could take for three days to get these benefits, it would be considered one of the greatest drugs ever invented.

Expressive writing is not so well marketed because it’s free and free to all, but it is very good medicine indeed.

This week – and I hope, every week – you’ll take time to write about what you are feeling, what is happening in your life, what is murky and what is rough.

Let your pen take you where you need to go. I’d love to hear about your experience in our Weekly Practice Facebook group.

Love,

Tara



what i’ve learned this year…

 

There’s something that I’ve been learning in my personal work on myself that I want to share with you today. It’s changed so much for me.

There’s a lot of excitement in our culture around the idea of mindfulness – becoming an observer of your own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors – in order to see them rather than be caught in them, to watch your behavior patterns rather than be identified with them.

Through meditation, journaling, or talking with a therapist, coach or even good friend, we start to ask questions like: What am I feeling? What limiting belief may be holding me back? What old conditioning is causing me to hurt myself and others?

As we answer these questions, we can start to actually look at, evaluate, and have agency around old patterns and beliefs that otherwise unconsciously drive our choices.

To all this I would say, yes: this kind of self-awareness can open up a space for us to begin to change a belief or behavior.

But what I’ve been learning lately is that for me, awareness is not really the most important thing in making change. The most important thing is something that comes next – in between awareness and action.

Let me take you through an example. Let’s say, through some awareness practice – perhaps journaling about some areas I feel stuck around – I discover that I have an old and deeply held belief that I don’t belong. Through more inquiry, I pinpoint some of the early childhood experiences I had that led to this belief – my family acting and looking different than those around us in our neighborhood, and some painful memories of being excluded.

So now I’m aware. I’m aware of a limiting belief that I’m carrying. I’m aware of the root causes. I’m aware of the costs.

But this is not quite enough for me to make real change and stop acting out of this belief. Why? Because the younger, hurt part of myself who got those early messages is not soothed or healed by my new cognitive awareness about them.

That’s worth repeating: the younger, hurt part of myself who got those early messages is not soothed or healed by my new cognitive awareness about them.

She needs something different. She needs to heal the early experiences of not belonging. She needs to receive the love and support she needed at the time of those painful experiences, but didn’t get then. She needs to know some older grown-up has her back and will be there for her, resolute and full to the brim with love, when she feels lonely.

So I take out my pen, and I find all her old pains, and embrace them. By “embrace” I don’t mean “accept” them. I mean a more literal embrace. I meet them, and her, with a loving hug. I write my list of embraces:

I embrace the little girl who felt different.
I embrace the younger girl who looked around and felt her body stood apart from all the others.
I embrace the little girl who wanted a house full of people and laughter.
I embrace the little girl who wanted to blend in, and just be one of many, and feel cozy as part of some larger circle.

I didn’t really know until this year you can hug your old pain and thereby transform it. I didn’t really know some emotions in you need your internal hug. I didn’t know these strange immaterial hugs are like magic that changes everything inside.

You can give them like this, through writing. Or you can picture your younger self in your mind’s eye and go to her, ask her what she needs and give it. Stay until she is okay, until she dismisses you because she is ready to play happily again. She’ll let you know when she’s been made whole.

It’s this – not the new awareness, but the embrace I can give to what I’ve just become aware of – that allows me to unblock what has long been blocked in me. It’s the love I give the old pain that allows me to stop acting out of that pain.

Now I know: if you haven’t embraced your younger self lately, you are living a compromised life.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk, global spiritual leader, and peace activist has written:

Sometimes the wounded child in us needs all of our attention … If you are mindful, you will hear his or her voice calling for help. At that moment … you go back and tenderly embrace the wounded child within you …

“When we speak of listening with compassion, we usually think of listening to someone else. But we must also listen to the wounded child inside of us. The wounded child in us is here in the present moment. And we can heal him or her right now. ‘My dear little wounded child, I’m here for you, ready to listen to you. Please tell me all your suffering, all your pain. I am here, really listening.’ And if you know how to go back to her, to him, and listen like that every day for five or ten minutes, healing will take place.”
 

So this is my offering to you this week.

Find some old pain. If you don’t know where to find yours, ask yourself: What fears gripped me today? Where did I betray myself? When was I dishonest today? Then ask, why did I think I couldn’t tell the truth? Or, what beliefs about life or others or myself led me to betray myself in that way? Or, what is the origin of that fear? As you look deeper into the why of that fear or self-betrayal or dishonesty, as you follow it to its root, you will find some old pain.

Find that younger girl who first experienced it, and feel everything she went through.

Then write your embraces. Everything in her you embrace. Everything still in you that you now embrace.

I embrace the little girl who was …
I embrace the little girl who had to …
I embrace the little girl who felt …

You will feel it – across your chest, tingling in your skin, how this changes everything.

Let us know about your experience, and hear from others, here.

Love,
Tara