Wired to create

creativity

What is creativity?

The book Wired to Create has researched the characteristics of highly creative people throughout history. Creative people are described as messy, playful, passionate, highly sensitive, open to new experiences, daydreaming, intuitive, solo, growing from adversity, mindful, think and act differently. These are interesting facts that we might already know. What I love the most from the book is this formula: Inspiration + hard work = creativity.

How to get inspired?

Life is full of sources of inspiration if we take a close look. Newton gets inspired by an apple dropping from a tree.  Literally, anything or anyone can be an inspiration. The books we’ve read or a stranger we’ve met may change the way we see the world. We can get insights or new perspectives by meeting new people, reading new books, traveling to new places, having new hobbies, eating new food, living in new cities, watching new movies and dramas, listening to new music, studying new topics, learning new sports, writing journals, being alone, solo walking, meditating, having showers… Any life events can be inspirations.

Treat all of life’s meaningful moments – the good and the bad – as potential sources of inspiration and motivation.

How to get hard work done?

Don’t think it’s hard work. We’re doomed to finish it in a hard way if “hard work” is in our minds. Think it’s as an expression of life, an expression of who you are, and the art of living. When we change the attitude, our actions will change too. I used to think work is hard work. When I see work as a practice to master creativity, I’m willing to do it again and again. I used to think yoga is hard work as I have to stretch myself to my limit. Yet, the benefits of stretching hard give me the strength that I can’t resist. So I do it every day.

Create. Again and again and again. Take risks and be prepared to fail.

Creative doing!

learned optimism

happiness

Learned optimism: ABCDE

I love reading books about positive psychology. I feel optimistic after knowing some inspiring psychology experiments and findings. Learned Optimism is a good read. I’m happy that I have learned the ABCDE model which is an optimism tool to help us achieve the goals we set for ourselves.

When I did a test about my optimistic level, I thought I’m very optimistic. But the results show that I’m very pessimistic indeed. I was so surprised! It took me a while to accept that I had been wrong about how optimistic I was. I decided to redo the test with the ABCDE model in mind to see if I would get a different result. The second attempt was definitely cheating. But I didn’t care. I was curious to know if there was any change. The second result is… very optimistic. Ha! I learned optimism theoretically.

How do I use the ABCDE model in real life?

A (Adversity): I have a writer’s block

B (Belief): I am not funny so I can’t write funny stories

C (Consequences): I feel bad and stop writing

D (Disputation): Everyone has a sense of humor, although it may be different from others. My friends and I have the same sense of humor. Everything can be learned. Things are hilarious when there is incongruity and the timing is right. (What I’m trying to do here is to disagree my belief by coming up with alternative thoughts and finding evidences to disagree)

E (Energization): I read articles or books and watch videos about comedy writing. I watch sitcoms and comedy movies to get inspired. I have more confidence to use the comedic device in my writing. I try to write again, edit the story, and make it funnier.

The ABCDE model makes me keep going with an optimistic mindset. I feel good to work on my goals without any negative thoughts. You can try ABCDE if you get stuck with something. Stay optimistic, dear! You’re welcome to subscribe to my blog for more happiness updates monthly.

Happy reading!

 

40% happiness

happiness

 

40% of happiness is our choice

The key takeaway from the book The How of Happiness is that we can control 40% of our happiness. 50% is determined by our genes. 10% is determined by life circumstances. The controllable happiness (40%) is about what we think and how we behave every day. In other words, happiness is a state of mind and actions that we can work on daily. It does take some effort to be happy but it is worth it. What else is more important than that?

The book offers many practical activities you can do to enhance your happiness. You can pick some activities that work best for you to practice and see what will happen. After all, happiness is a practice or a habit. I find that I have cultivated some happiness habits suggested in the book. For example, I exercise weekly and I spend time with family and friends. Express gratitude. Commit to lifelong goals. Meditate (live in the moment). Develop new hobbies. Keep a gratitude journal.

Recently, I have been keeping a giving journal. I want to jot down the small things I give to others and the great things others give to me. I have an urge to give more when I realize how little I have given. Like I have better control of how I use the money if I keep track of how much I have spent daily. The giving journal is effective to prompt me to be a more giving person. I become more aware of what and how often I give to others. This makes me happier.

How to see the big picture: Best Possible Self

The book introduces the Best Possible Self exercise to help us see the big picture of our lives. This exercise can also boost our happiness as it creates positive emotions. What’s your big picture? For me, I imagine my life in 3 years like this:

  1. RELATIONSHIPS: I have a loving life partner who stays with me forever and we grow together. I have many inspiring, funny and caring friends around me. My family is happy.
  2. HOBBIES: I travel at least 6 exotic places with surfing spots to enjoy life and nature. (i.e. Morocco, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Cuba, Bali, Philippine, Okinawa, Cairns, etc.)
  3. CAREER: My blog has 1,000 true fans. I read and write a lot of good stuff.
  4. HEALTH: I am healthy, happy and pretty.
  5. FINANCE: I have more than 1 million.

How about your best possible self? I would like to know! I’m sure you will be happy if you write to me. So please feel free to share it with me in the comments section now.

Happy reading!

on writing

creativity

How to write a story or fiction?

I have read Stephen King’s memoir, which is about the craft of writing. I love it from start to end. It’s like listening to a piece of good music. Melodic, beautiful, and entertaining. I cherry-pick 3 quotes from the book, to sum up On Writing for you to have a quick read.

  • Write what you like, then imbue it with life and make it unique by blending in your own personal knowledge of life, friendship, relationships, sex, and work.
  • The practice is invaluable (and should feel good, really not like practice at all) and that honesty is indispensable. Skills in the description, dialogue, and character development all boil down to seeing or hearing clearly and then transcribing what you see or hear with equal clarity (and without using a lot of tiresome, unnecessary adverbs).
  • If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.

Show the story: narration, description, and dialogue

I have jotted down the points to note, for you to keep in mind while writing a story. These are the writing tips from Stephen King and his ways of writing fictions.

  • Ask “what if” to build the narrative
  • The good description usually consists of a few well-chosen details that will stand for everything else
  • The use of simile and other figurative language is one of the chief delights
  • You must tell the truth if your dialogue is to have resonance and realism
  • The basic rule of vocabulary is to use the first word that comes to your mind if it is appropriate and colorful
  • Use active voice instead of passive voice
  • Avoid adverbs
  • Leave it for at least 6 weeks before editing
  • Check the spellings, unclear pronouns
  • Look for what you meant and reinforce that meaning

Add metaphors or similes like a pro

I enjoy reading Stephen’s unique metaphors or similes, which he is good at using so as to enrich his writing. Here’re some examples:

  • Writers are carpenters; writing skills are tools
  • As your mind and body grow accustomed to a certain amount of sleep each night so can you train your waking mind to sleep creatively and work out the vividly imagined waking dreams which are successful works of fiction
  • I believe stories are found things, like fossils

How do you like it if I show you a metaphor source which you can access online and get many good references? Dr. Mardy has created one for us, for free!

Happy reading!

Comedy writing

creativity

How to write comedy?

If you’re wondering how to write funny or you’re getting stuck on writing, go through the quick summary from Writing Comedy, which may help you break out of the prison in your mind:

Start writing what you want to write, what amuses you. Then learn to modify and improve it to reach a bigger audience.

Get inspired:

  • Work with other people 
  • Stay up to date with popular culture
  • Have an opinion on everything
  • Be a comedy consumer (watch sitcoms, comedy movies)
  • Keep note of funny materials 
  • Anarchy: let yourself be anarchic and childlike, have crazy ideas like “The modest proposal” by Jonathan Swift (a satirical essay suggesting that problem of famine in Ireland could be solved by poor people selling their babies to rich landlords to eat.)
  • Freethinking
  • People watching
  • Daydream
  • Negative emotions like frustrations of everyday life, which are great materials
  • Gather comedy materials from socializing with friends, family, and all sorts of media
  • Networking (find publisher, editor)

Create incongruity:

  • Opposites (funerals and weddings; big and small)
  • Misdirection (a twist in the end)
  • Misunderstanding
  • Exaggeration
  • Double entendre
  • Rule of three

Comedy format:

  1. Set up
  2. Small laughs
  3. Punchline (the surprise)

Create comedy characters: 

  • Deadpan/jester
  • Fish out of water/neurotic
  • Innocent/know-it-all
  • Klutz/loser
  • Social climber/vulgarian
  • What’s the characteristics and desires of characters?
  • Give the character some sort of conflict—inner conflict, conflict with other people and conflict with society
  • Give crisis and obstacles to characters

Write it:

  • Set time aside for writing 
  • Show in a comedic way, don’t tell 
  • Get personal (insults, embarrassment)
  • Use specific vocabulary
  • Don’t be too direct
  • Read your work out loud to feel the rhythm (pause before punchline)

Edit it:

  • Edit the draft
  • Mark the laughs
  • Fine-tune the ending 

 

In short, entertain yourself first, get the joke done, and laugh out loud.

Creative doing!

writing style

creativity

How to craft your writing?

If you would like to craft your writing, reading The Element of Style by William Stunk Jr. and E.b. White is a must. This September, I have been reading books about the craft of writing. I would like to recommend The Elements of Style. This is a good book about grammar rules and the style of writing, even Stephen King has highly recommended it as a good one without bullshit.

I’ll tell you right now that every aspiring writer should read The Elements of Style.

— Stephen King 

Here are some of the suggestions, for helping writers or bloggers to develop their own style:

  • write in a way that comes naturally
  • write with nouns and verbs, not with adjective and adverb
  • revise and rewrite

For more tips on how to craft, check it out and dive in.

The writing style of great writers

Ernest Hemingway’s simple and succinct writing style is the opposite of James Joyce’ complex and stream-of-consciousness writing. Style is like beauty. It’s subjective and has various ways. Writing style is your identity. It’s a part of you. So the takeaway point here is to write what you know and be yourself. That’s what Hemingway and Joyce did.

Happy reading!

 

 

 

 

Funny Memoir

happiness

How to be a woman?

As a woman myself, I find it very easy to fear of everything — wrinkles, uncontrollable emotions, the dark, insects, gravity, loneliness, outfits that make you look fat, irritating menstruation, not getting married, not having kids, and the list goes on. I can choose to be anxious about coping with life as a woman or choose to laugh about all of them (too many materials to make fun of).

I love Caitlin Moran‘s sense of humour and her unique perspectives on being a woman. She is a strident feminist who supports women to be herself. She shares her life from a teenage girl to a mid-thirties lady in a brutally honest and comedian way.

Her exaggerating metaphors and imaginary scenes are hilarious and her opinions on things are bold (She loves bolding her main points too!). Her book is full of references from pop culture, celebrities, bands, fashion, sex, and more. It’s totally FUNNY AND JUICY.

I don’t know how they would react to my £40 handbag. They might leap on to their chairs screaming and trying to hit my cheap handbag with a broom, as if it were vermin.

It is a good read for people who are annoyed by or being a woman or who want to understand women more and have a good laugh. The book is full of insights and amusing stories.

Happy reading!

 

give and take

happiness

Are you a taker, matcher or giver?

Yes, I am a matcher most of the time, unfortunately, and sometimes a taker or a giver. I feel the need to get evolved to be a giver after reading the book Give and Take by Adam Grant as giving wisely makes life happier. Yes, it takes actions and time to be a generous giver so it’s better that we really enjoy the process of giving. I’m trying to get there although I’m still far from the end of evolution.

How to be a cheerful giver?

Givers are generous folks who take other’s interests above theirs. Not many people can do that all the time I guess. I hope you’re one of the cheerful givers and I hope I can be one soon. Adam Grant advocates giving as he loves to see more successful givers getting to the top without cutting others down, finding ways of expanding the pie that benefit themselves and the people around them.

“When you meet people, regardless of who they are, you should be asking yourself, ‘How can I help the other person?’”

Perspective-taking

I must admit that my ability to imagine other people’s perspectives is very weak as I’m an introvert and I don’t practice perspective-taking a lot in real life. I always get stuck in my own perspective so I find myself not so helpful to others. Once upon a time, my boyfriend at the time asked me to help him to do his individual essay but I just promised him to help with the proofreading. He then asked another friend to finish it for him near the deadline. Since then, he broke up with me. This relationship let me realize that he is a matcher and I am not a giver. I failed to put his interest over mine and he failed to prioritize our relationship over his study. What if both of us are otherish givers considering our partner’s thoughts and interests to find ways that satisfy others without sacrificing our own interests?

Seeking advice

Adam suggests us to ask for advice, which is a form of powerless communication showing our vulnerability. In his opinion, advice-seeking has 4 benefits: learning, perspective taking, commitment, and flattery. For example, when I ask my senior how to get a pay rise, he will give suggestions for my situation (engage in perspective-taking) and help me if he is a giver (commitment). I will take new information (learning) from him and give appreciation (flattery) to him. This whole process of seeking advice is more like prompting the adviser to be a giver. It literally gives the adviser a chance to give.

The 100-hour rule of volunteering

In the book, Adam also mentions the 100-hour rule of volunteering — the optimal hour to give without burning out. It’s just two hours a week if we break down 100 hours a year. Research shows that happiness increased when people performed all five giving acts or volunteer work in a single day rather than doing one a day. And if you are burning out, you can recharge your energy by shifting your giving to a new domain where your contributions showing visible impacts.

Seeing everyone as talented

Adam Grant believes generous givers simply start by seeing everyone as talented and try to bring out the best in them. They don’t excel only at recognizing and developing talent; they’re also surprisingly good at moving on when their bets don’t work out.

There’re so many great stories about takers and givers in Adam’s book worth reading. Hope you will be willing to give more no matter big or small after reading this. If we measure success in what it has done for the people around us, being helpful to others with a sense of free choice is successful.

Happy reading!

 

 

LOL this is funny

happiness

What makes you laugh today?

I have no idea what my facial expression looks like when I’m not looking at the mirror, until more than 2 people said to me,” You looks so serious”. What? I have been wearing a serious look all day, all months, or maybe all years? I thought I have a happy smiling face all the time. Are there fights between emotions in my brain like the movie Inside Out?

The idea that I was not LOL all the time makes me panic. Then I watch comedies, sitcoms, and funny books. I also put on a pair of funny glasses and see things from a different perspective. It turns out people laugh at my stupid face.

Life is absurd. It’s better not to take it seriously. I want you to have a good laugh as that will make me laugh too. How? Yea, how exactly? I don’t quite know, to be honest. But,  here I’ve got some funny stuff, for you to judge if they are funny enough to make you laugh.

Funny graphic memoir

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Have you ever read any weird comics from Allie Brosh‘s funny blog? I gave the book a try after Bill Gate‘s recommendation. I found it enjoyable to read and I couldn’t help laughing at her whimsical drawings and writing. Allie illustrated the anecdotes about her childhood, her dogs, her identity, her depression and her daily life in a hilarious and exaggerated way with her unique sense of humor. I love it! Life is not that boring if you see it in Allie’s way.

The Simpsons jokes

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What’s your favorite Simpsons joke? The Simpsons may seem stupid, yet I love the smart jokes that make people can’t help laughing at. I tried to hack the joke writing secrets. Yes, I tried a bit, not hard. After listening to the audiobook of Springfield Confidential, I have a bit more ideas about how the Simpsons writers work: they use simple language to talk about the moment of shit and put a surprise at the end. 

The Simpsons

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The British sense of humor 

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The British sense of humor is more sarcastic and pessimistic. James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes is a good example, telling his autobiographical stories in a comedian way. He’s hilarious. You can definitely feel that when he speaks, not to mention his funny stand-up shows.

Happy reading & laughing!

 

create meanings

happiness

woman-wades-in-ocean-at-sunset.jpg

What is the meaning of life?

Most of us have asked this tricky question, especially in adversity or when burning out. Do you have the answer now? Some people are lucky that they are always clear about their life purpose. Some people discover their meaning of life while suffering. Some people are not sure about it yet and some may have changed their meaning of life. What is the meaning of my life? My answer, at this moment, is to inspire you to live a more meaningful life.

Many philosophers, psychiatrists, and writers have their unique views on the meaning of life. Among these different views, I can see a shared value regarding the meaning of life. In general, that is to do something loving for others. That’s it? That’s the truth about the meaning of life? Sounds too simple to be true. No matter what the truth is, we have the freedom to decide our own meaning of life.

live to inspire

Emily Esfahani Smith, the author of The Power Of Meaning, thinks our lives become meaningful when we have strong relationships with others, cooperate with others for the good of society, reframe our stories in a more positive way, and connect to nature or god. Her four pillars of meaning: belongings, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence, is psychology-driven and pragmatical for real life. We are doing these activities in daily life, aren’t we? Do we simply take a meaningful life for granted?

achieve, love, suffer, hope

According to psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankel, we can discover the meaning in life in three different ways: by achievement; by loving someone; and by suffering. When Viktor was suffering in the concentration camp, he found the meaning of life by treating patients and writing his classic book Man’s Search For Meaning. In his view, what human needs is the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task, to prevent existential vacuum (inability to find or create meaning in life). In other words, just do something of your choice that makes you feel fulfilled. What goal do you choose to live a meaningful life?

Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.

What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.

The more one forgets himself—by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love—the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself

work play love

Paul Thagard, a philosopher who specializes in cognitive science, summarises the meaning of life as work, play, and love in his book The Brain And The Meaning Of Life. Balancing these three areas can satisfy our psychological needs: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Cool, keep working, playing, and loving. And most importantly keep balancing.

serve others

Many of my Christian friends’ meaning of life is to serve God by serving others. They choose to believe the meaning of life lies in religion. Philosopher John Cottingham also thinks so and he points out the spiritual benefits in his book On The Meaning Of Life: the care of the soul, the tranquility of mind, release from the false pursuits of egoism and material gain, a closer awareness of the mystery of life, an affirmation of its profundity and its blessings.

contribute & cooperate

Psychotherapist Alfred Adler’s finding of the meaning of life is to contribute to the whole and cooperate with others. I feel that his book  What Life Should Mean To You is more like preparing readers to be good parents. Because he stresses the importance of parents’ sufficient love for children (especially for children with imperfect organ, pampered children, and neglected children) can help raise a good person instead of a criminal.

final thought

After all, we are not alone in this world so our meaningful lives must involve other people. When it comes to your meaning of life, only you can live it for yourself.

Happy reading