Have you heard the expression – We become a product of our environment?
How relevant is it when it comes to leading a creative life?
However single minded, determined and strong we feel we are, we’re all susceptible to the influences of other people.
Obviously, the people who are closest to us, and the people who we hold in high regard and have great respect for are those who can alter and guide our way of thinking most.
So, for example, if the people you live with and spend most time with are creative, positive, outgoing people, those traits are going to rub off on you, and help you be more creative, positive and outgoing.
Conversely, if the people you’re most often surrounded with are negative, defeatist and serial complainers, then guess what? Yep, you’re far more likely to become like this too.
The easy answer here is to change your circle of influence, though it’s not always as simple to do in practice. Take a close look at the people who you spend most time with though, and ask yourself whether you are more inspired and creative – and most importantly more like the real you – when you are with them, or less so.
Are these people surrounding you make your life easier or harder, happier or more of a struggle?
If it’s harder and more of a struggle, you might consider why you spend time with them, or at least how you can lessen or eliminate their detrimental effect on your own life.
The people we mix with are the most obvious example of how we can be influenced in our thoughts and actions.
But there are other far more subtle ways our surroundings can drain us, and literally suffocate our souls.
An example of something we might not usually consider is on the roads. If I could use a personal situation to demonstrate here. I live in a commuter town, in a fairly affluent area, and actually next door to a nursery. The cars that pass by most often, and drop their kids off are mostly higher quality brands like Audis, BMWs, Range Rovers and assorted 4X4s. Very few of these vehicles are more than three years old.
My own car is not worth much, and it’s not something I generally spend much time thinking about. But I have to confess, when I see one of these shiny new Audis, for a moment, a part of me goes off on a little fantasy about how great they’d be to drive, and how cool people would think I am if I had one.
This is my advertising brainwashing kicking in, I’m well aware. The same kind of advertising brainwashing that tells us we’re inadequate and can’t be happy or fulfilled or attractive unless we buy the latest and coolest TV/ phone/ computer/ outfit/ deodorant. Combined with a dash the “keeping up with the Jones’s” added in.
If I lived in a tiny vilage in the middle of nowhere, drove a battered old car worth only £100, and all the locals had similarly battered and inexpensive transportation (if they had a car at all), then I would spend far less time wondering about how my life might be enriched by a new Audi. It just wouldn’t be something I’d think about, because I’d never see one around.
It’s a subtle example, but one that shows that in that way, my surroundings and where I’ve chosen to live has an influence that’s distracting at best, and at worst can lead to feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction.
Of course I KNOW a car doesn’t bring lasting happiness. I know this more clearly than ever, but the allure is still there, and that thought programming still has an effect on me.
Can you think of similar examples in your own life?
The easiest way is to think of things you see around you that make you think: “If I ONLY I had that _________, then my life would be so much better and I’d be happier and more creative…”
Let’s focus specifically on creativity for a moment with a tale of two sisters.
Laura and Lucy are both mixed media artists, working on a new project of the same theme. They both have a whole room full of supplies where they create. Laura decides on some ideas for her theme, selects the materials, and gets down to creating.
Lucy though, never feels she has enough supplies. So she spends most of her time trying to source new creative materials either in stores, or online, and makes a steady stream of purchases she feels she absolutely needs for her project.
Each time Lucy visits a new store, she sees something different, and buys it, adding to her already overwhelming collection of art supplies.
Two weeks later, Laura hasn’t been anywhere near any new supplies and has enjoyed creating each day on her new project. She’s simply eliminated all distractions, including all the excess materials around her she didn’t need for this project, and has been busy getting creative. Her creativity is thriving.
Lucy though is virtually drowning in supplies, and the more she looks at how much she has surrounding her, the more she feels overwhelmed and the harder it seems to jut pick something and get started. Her surroundings are literally suffocating her.
Again think about your own life. Which if these two artists are you most like?
These are just a few examples of how our surroundings influence us and hold us back.
Take a few minutes on a regular basis to consider the things in your life and immediate surroundings that are suffocating not only your creativity, but your soul, and your ability to be fulfilled and happy.
Reduce them one at a time, give yourself the chance to breathe freely, and to create freely. It’ll make a huge difference to your creativity, and your whole life.
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