What a great thought! Replace negativity with creativity.
I found this gem while reading Beautiful Faces by Jane Davenport. (Which by the way, is an awesome book. The link is her website.)
When I first read it “replace negativity with creativity,” I laughed out loud. Not because it was funny, but because it was remarkably good. It is such a brilliant, simple visual that holds profoundness beyond its uncomplicated beauty. I adore artistic creativity and engage in it often. But, when I read Jane’s words I immediately thought of creative thinking.
“YES!” I thought. “Let’s replace negativity with creativity. Let’s replace negative thinking with creative thinking!”
Unlike negativity, creative thinking “bridges the gap between what is dreamt and what is desired; it knows no bounds and is not restricted by possibilities.” How fantabulous is that?!!
I recently returned from my yearly appointment at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I gotta say, those doctors, nurses, and researchers are some seriously brainy men and women! They are constantly engaging cancer, and all its destructive negativity, with their brilliance and creative thinking.
This visit, my oncologist and I talked about a drug they are creating specifically for Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia. He shared a myriad of thoughts, ideas and wonderings that they are encountering in their work. He was apologetic as he told me they hadn’t yet completed the drug.
I chuckled inwardly and said, “Oh my! I’m not surprised at all that it’s super difficult and entails a boat load of hard work. It is one crazy, fabulous, brilliantly-complicated piece of creative thinking and doing!”
Like me, and all creatives, my doctor and his team employ many processes and strategies as we work to replace negativity with creativity. Here are a few I regularly employ.
- Possibility thinking
- Being open to the notion that there are many possibilities. Possibilities not yet conceived, as well as those imagined but not yet realized.
- Lateral thinking
- Looking at the problem/issue from all different angles, even those that might seem a bit ridiculous, implausible or less than useful.
- Divergent thinking
- Generating all sorts of ideas — ones that are outside, as well as inside, the box.
- Making connections
- Many times these connections are between seemingly unrelated things.
- LOL! I’m not sure anyone else refers to it as fermenting, but I enjoy the image. This is when I stop deliberate consideration of the problem or any possible solutions. Much like actual fermentation it mught look like nothing is happening. But, nothing could be farther from the truth. My unconcious mind is working to make sense of my ideas, and at some point, clarity and/or new ideas blubble up to my conscious mind, bursting forth as flashes of insight or revised ideas.
- I’m like a 5 year old! I ask lots of questions – especially, but not limited to, “How might we?” “What if?” “How come?” “How do you know?” and “Why not?”
- My MA tutor Karl K. Jeffries — also quite a brainy dude — suggested a walk, whenever I was being overcome by “existential angst” thinking my research and effort was meaningless, and would never amount to anything. The stepping away and moving — especially walking outside — was always valuable.
- Deep sighs of relief
- Uri Alon — yet another brainy guy in my universe — talks about deep sighs of relief in his systems biology lectures. In a relaxed state he says “we tend to be more curious, playful … it’s good for learning.” Uri states there is actually a feedback loop between the relaxed state and breathing. We breathe more deeply when we are relaxed, and we can induce that more relaxed state by breathing deeply — by taking, as he explains “deep sighs of relief.” Try it, it actually works! I use deep sighs of relief regularly with myself and my Kindergarten students. Depending on the vigor of your exhale, it can be very funny!
- Looking deeply
- This deep looking sometimes involves research, but often is simply prolonged purposeful staring at my ideas and thoughts.
- Openness to the new, surprising, and unexpected.
- Risk taking
- Sometimes all of the above is the risk taking endeavor, sometimes the risk is about the action, sometimes about the product.
- Critical Thinking and evaluation
- Having done all these things and more, I then need to think critically and see if my ideas, products or processes are actually useful.
- It’s super important to continue — even when it is tough, frustrating, and we’re deep in the cloud. Rethinking, starting the process all over again, remaining open, hopeful and determined are essential if we are to replace negativity with creativity.
I’m going to keep at it in my life and my work. I have no doubt the Dana-Farber people will too. My fingers are crossed they will succeed in creating a drug for WM treatment sooner rather than later — successfully erasing a bit more negativity in the world.
How about you?
What will you do?
I hope you’ll give it a go.
Replace negativity with creativity!
I believe in you!