The Never Never Path To Happiness And Creative Freedom

image: megan bedford

What do you REALLY want your creative life to be like?

From the amount written these days about following our passions and living our dreams, you’d be forgiven for thinking that by your age (whether you’re 16, 36, 66 or 106), you should have figured out exactly what you want from life by now, and be living it to its fullest.

The truth is, our callings in life don’t just fall into our laps, however patiently we sit and wait for them. We have to get out there and find them.

Another prominent movement, that probably has more exposure and literature written about it today than ever before, is positive thinking.

You get what you focus on, we’re told, so if we focus on what’s bad, we get more of that, and if we focus on what’s good, we attract more of that.

It makes sense, and I believe this too. But there’s a danger that by ignoring the bad stuff we rob ourselves of a chance to learn more about ourselves, and to move closer and closer to what we really love, what makes us feel alive like nothing else.

First, let’s get away from these “good” and “bad” judgements.

Let’s consider instead what makes you feel more at peace, more alive, more yourself, and the kind of experiences that bring you closer to that.

To do this, it’s often easier to look at the opposite end. The things that you know aren’t for you, that drag you down, that cause you inner conflict, that make you wonder what on earth you’re doing here in this situation.

We can call this the Never Never List. Those times and feelings and situations that you have found yourself in, in the past, that you never never want to be in again.

If you listen closely to your inner compass, you always know.

And, as we suggested above, it’s often easier to recognise what you DON’T feel comfortable with, those things that make your life harder, and move you further from your most creative, fulfilled state, than the things that make you happy.

Say, for example, you’re in a group of friends that have met every week for years, to catch up with the latest details and “gossip” in everyone’s lives. Now, when this group began, it was positive, supportive, fun, and without doubt a great addition to your week and life.

Some time ago though, it started to descend into nasty back biting and comments about people that weren’t present. Every thread of conversation seemed to be fuelled by criticising or looking down on someone else, the group as a whole using this to try to feel superior. You begin to wonder what was said about you the occasional times you can’t attend yourself.

This isn’t you. It doesn’t sit right, it’s not something you’re at all comfortable with, and leave the group each time wondering why you still go.

This is a great example to go on your Never Never List. You might say: “I never never want to be a part of social group that does nothing but bitch and complain about others just to make them feel better about their own inadequacies.”

Now you’ve recognised the negative – the “Never Never” – it becomes easy to turn it around and state what you’d like instead.

So you might say something like: “I only want to be a part of social groups that have a positive aim, and that encourage and support others, and that are a lot of fun.”

It helps to think about this in value terms like these, rather than specific activities that groups might do, like writing, or sewing, or dancing for example.

You’re defining what’s important for you in your life at that deep value level.

In this example, you’re saying it’s important to you to be supportive, positive, encouraging, and to have fun.

The actual group that you can do this in could revolve around any activity. It’s almost not important, as long as it’s an activity all the people in the group have a common passion for.

The greatest freedom we can have is from ourselves. More specifically, from the mental baggage and feelings of guilt, resentment, shame and so on.

The greatest freedom is to be at peace with yourself, and have everything you do in your life align with that, to nurture and support it.

The Never Never List is a great technique to uncover those things and times where you’re clearly not at peace with yourself. And, as we’ve talked about, by turning them around, we can find what WILL enable us to be as happy and creative as we can be.

Start writing your Never Never List today. There are bound to be a few examples in your own life, however small, that you never never want to be involved in again. What first comes to mind for you?

Start taking those steps on your unique path happiness and creative freedom. Then take the actions that best support them.

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