Lynda: Hi, Rich and Sandra. Let’s talk about creativity today. For starters, most writers I’m aware of are quite disciplined about spending a lot of time writing every day, whether they feel like it or not. On the other hand, I heard Steve Martin say on Fresh Air the other day that if he writes when he isn’t in the mood, he doesn’t like what he comes up with.
You’re both successful authors. How does the creative process work for you?
Rich: Waiting to be in the mood is a luxury that most creative people can’t really afford. It’s cool to be inspired by a great idea, but those moments are kind of rare. I find that when I just decide to get started with the knowledge that if what I write that day is terrible, I don’t have to use it, I usually get into the flow pretty quickly anyway.
Lynda: Rich and Sandra, we had a really interesting Ask Us question lately about envy. It’s a big topic, so I thought we could have a conversation about it.
Sandra: Envy is a powerful emotion, and when it surfaces for me, it’s usually following a disappointed expectation. When something that you really wanted to happen doesn’t materialize, it’s amazing how the mind can turn. It goes searching for what another person has that you might not and somehow, twists it around to mean that you can’t achieve the your own goals. When you think these convoluted thoughts during a rational state, they sound quite juvenile and ridiculous, but when you’re absorbed in that emotion, it’s very real. (more…)
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER YOUR 25-YEAR-OLD SELF?
We start off with earnest advice for ourselves as young adults, but before long we’ve gone back a lot farther than that and are laughing about GI Joe, the Bay City Rollers, and singing into a hair brush in front of the mirror.
Lynda: Rich and Sandra, if you could go back and offer advice to your younger self, what would you say to the 25-year-old you?
Rich: First, I’d say that life is great, and it gets better if you have the right attitude. Looking forward, but appreciating everything that’s come before, including the tougher moments.
Lynda: We’ve posted a lot lately about regular practices that have been shown to increase people’s happiness, like getting daily exercise, meditating, or listing things we’re grateful for. Of course, different habits work for different people, and sticking with a habit can be hard no matter how beneficial it is. What regular practices work for you, and how do you get yourselves to stay with them?
Sandra: I blogged recently about one of mine, which is engaging in memorable activities. Making sure I do something that really matters to me every single day keeps me grounded and sustains my happiness far longer than checking tasks off my To Do list. The activity can be as simple as walking the dog in a park I find beautiful, or getting at that recipe I’ve always wanted to try.
THE MISTAKES, DEFEATS, AND BROKEN TOILETS THAT GOT US WHERE WE ARE TODAY
Lynda: Sandra and Rich, what’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
Twelve years ago, when I was applying to adopt a baby from China, I made a paperwork mistake that threatened to slow the whole process down by at least six weeks. As soon as I found out, I drove to the government agency in charge of these things and begged for help. The person I spoke with was so helpful that I actually wound up two weeks ahead of where I’d have been if I hadn’t made the mistake in the first place.
The whole situation changed the timing of when my file was sent to China, and helped lead to being matched with my wonderful, amazing daughter Evie — which is of course the best thing to happen in my entire life. Ever.
So thank heavens for agonizing mistakes. That’s all I can say. Thank heavens.
Rich: That’s got to be the luckiest mistake in all of our lives. As for me, I’m reminded not so much of a mistake but of something I first viewed as a failure but that instead has provided me with a sense of stability throughout my adult life. (more…)
THIS WEEK’S ACTIVE CONVERSATION
Lynda: Hi, Rich and Sandra. In my post last week about vacations, I wrote about how to get the greatest possible happiness before, during, and even after a trip. Sandra, of course, gets more pleasure out of planning vacations than anyone else I know.
Sandra: I do get great enjoyment from planning a trip. I know this may sound really silly, but I get the most fun initially from planning what I’m going to wear. I’ve actually done this since I was eight years old. I love making lists, so I do a daily outfit list like say, morning outfit (options for if it’s warm or cold), evening outfit (dressy or casual). I get teased about this a lot (since Rich finds the old outfit lists all over the compartments of the suitcases), but then I find them again and relive the happy memory of that vacation, so I figure I get more than my money’s worth out of the trip!