How To Be More Creative: Accepting Our Ideas

I’ll be completely honest, I have difficulty figuring out what to write about at times. Usually most of the time. Where some people think that every idea that comes to mind is fantastic or a winner, I am on the opposite end of the spectrum. If you are like me, you’ve thought of an idea, only to quickly dismiss it because you think that it’s a dumb idea that no one would like. When you finally do come up with an idea you find truly unique, no one else likes it. Eventually, you see someone came up with an idea just like one you originally thought was dumb. Maybe I just wasn’t creative enough.

 

I finally stumbled across something. Creativity isn’t always making something brand new that no one has ever heard or seen before. Sometimes it’s just seeing the value in the weird thoughts that pop up into your head. What may seem trivial to me is actually important to others. To me, the idea is just a brief thought that crosses my mind. So, when I think about it, I don’t really see why someone else would care about it. After all, if it was so important, wouldn’t I have thought of it a long time ago? What I don’t think about is that someone else might have been pondering that same idea/question for days or weeks. Sometimes I just thought I wouldn’t be able to expand on the idea enough.

 

I’m not sure what brought it about, but one day I just decided that maybe I should try to create a post out of the next thought that crossed my mind that I spent a couple minutes thinking about. Then it just became write down any ideas I got. I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go, and I have notepads and pens scattered throughout my apartment for any ideas I get. I’m not even kidding. I have a notepad on my desk, next to my bed, and in the kitchen. I also keep markers in the shower to use to help me remember ideas until I’m dry enough to get to a notepad. This is also just helpful to keep track of anything that I might need to remember as sometimes I get thoughts popping up in my head when I go to sleep, or even in the shower.

 

Once I decided to start keeping track of these ideas and seeing where lied the value, I suddenly had much more to write about. What was once a question I asked myself in the shower (and wrote on the wall) became a blog post. That idea that comes while I’m cleaning my apartment? Yeah that becomes a post too.

 

It taught me that sometimes we are already creative, but we just need to recognize it in ourselves. Do we sometimes have bad ideas? Yeah, but sometimes the results of said bad ideas can spur new ideas, making that original bad idea not so bad after all. It’s also just the practice of being receptive to ideas and practice bringing them to fruition. What’s funny too is sometimes I get an idea for a topic, and while I may have difficulty writing about it in one way, I realize I can tweak the topic a bit and come up with something that works better for me.

 

I agree that being critical of our ideas is important because we do need to be somewhat grounded in reality, but sometimes we let that criticism extinguish any flame of creativity we actually have. Sometimes we just need to let go of the criticism to an extent that seems uncomfortable. Only then can we start to find good ideas and then bring back a healthy, constructive criticism that results in creations that people can enjoy. It’s all in finding a balance.

 

While this has helped me, I still have a long way to go. Does anybody else have to work on this too?

 

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Why Everyone Should Experience Living Abroad

I’ve spent a total of 10months so far abroad. I’m loving every minute of it. Now I know that some people aren’t cut out for living abroad. I understand that. But I recommend that everyone find a way to spend a couple months living in another country. It’s an eye-opening experience. If you can get the opportunity to work abroad, even better.

 

Why do I say that everyone do it at least once? Because going on vacation isn’t always enough to fully understand people from another culture. People that come to a country to hangout for a few weeks, party, and go sightseeing will have one view of a country, but a very superficial view at that. To truly understand the mindset of another group of people, you need to live like they do, and talk to them.

 

Take the first time I came to Taiwan. I came to study Chinese. Along with me was a group of American classmates. One key difference between how I spent my free time and how they did was who we hung out with. A lot of the Americans hung out with other Americans or Westerners. Okay, at least maybe they were talking to a German or European (so not American), but they weren’t talking to many Taiwanese people.

 

I on the otherhand, hung out with a lot of Taiwanese people. So I started to learn cultural nuances, began to understand why they think they way they do. I could even start to understand some gestures they had. When all was said and done, I had plenty of friends I talked to when I went back to America. My American classmates pretty much ignored Taiwan after that experience.

 

Now living in Taiwan, I noticed the same pattern with my coworkers. Most foreign coworkers stick to talking with other foreign coworkers. Me? I stick to the Taiwanese ones. As a result, I can relate to them more and I find that I have to explain cultural jokes or insights to my foreign coworkers that they just don’t understand. This is an experience I couldn’t get with just going on vacation.

 

Compare this to Hong Kong. I travelled to Hong Kong for a few days once. Yeah, I was there. But I’d never claim to understand their way of thinking through a four day visit. Sure I talked to a couple of locals, but there is still much for me to learn before I consider myself an expert on Hong Kong’s culture.

 

The best part of all this is that I can easily associate with Taiwanese people. There are expressions and gestures I use that instantly make the Taiwanese trust me. It proves I have a lot of Taiwanese friends and care about Taiwanese culture, contrary to any stereotypes they may have of Westerners. This in turn allows me to learn even more about the Taiwanese. It’s an experience I never would’ve been able to have had I only spent a week on vacation here.

 

Is it hard? Maybe. Is it worth it? Definitely. Go travel.

Do We Really Need Sleep?

Whenever I hear people talking about how busy they are, I almost always, without fail, hear some kind of discussion about a lack of sleep. This usually transitions into a “who is too busy to get sleep” contest.

“I had 5 hours of sleep last night”

“Well I had 4 hours of sleep”

“Yeah but the two nights before that I had 3 hours”

 

It’s such stupidity. Why do we celebrate not going to sleep? It’s become a badge of honor in our society. Whenever we don’t get around to doing something, we always use our lack of sleep as proof to back up our claims of being busy. When people always brag about how little sleep they get, I brag about the 8 hours I get. Usually the dialogue goes like this:

 

“Well I’m too busy to get that much sleep. Try doing everything that I’m doing and you’ll understand.”

To which I respond “I’m maxed out on credits, working close to full time, spend 1.5-2 hours everyday in commute, successfully gained 10lbs of muscle in 10 weeks, teaching myself jazz guitar, and am learning two languages. This doesn’t count any volunteer hours I’ve put in, the dropping off and picking up my little brother from sports practices along with the same day to day BS you deal with too.”

“Oh…”

I don’t respond like that to brag. I respond like that to tell people that it really is possible to do a lot and still sleep a healthy amount.

If I want to be able to do everything I want to do, I have to sleep. If I don’t sleep, there’s just no way I can tackle everything at full power. It just can’t happen. I know some people argue that sleeping less gives them more time to work. But if the quality of your work drops as a result of sleep loss. As a result, you will take longer to get the same tasks done at the same quality or you may never even reach the level of quality you are looking for.

 

Let’s put this into a foreign language perspective. If I wanted to study 10 new words every day, I could do so without many problems. Now, if I wasn’t sleeping very well, suddenly, this task becomes so much harder. Not only will it take me longer to learn the new words for today (anywhere from 1.5x-3x longer depending on the degree of sleep loss) but I will also more easily forget words from the previous day or too. Overall, I spend more time than learning tasks on less sleep than I would had I slept well. You can see eventually there comes a point where sleeping more would actually save you time.

 

Let’s not forget it’s bad for your health. If your health goes down the drain, so will all your work efforts, be it mental or physical. Then you have to have to spend more time recovering when you could be improving. Don’t sacrifice sleep for a couple extra hours. Sleep. Be at full power. Conquer more.

 

Which Way Are You Running?

Vision without action is merely  a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.

 

So says a Japanese proverb I heard a long time ago. I never gave it much thought until recently, and I realized it makes sense. If you just sit around daydreaming about starting something but never do it, it’s just that, a daydream. That part we all know. But that’s not the part I want to focus on.

 

I want to focus on the latter. Action without vision. Why is this important? Thinking about it brought me to another question: which way are you running? Are you running towards something? Or away from something? If you have that vision, you know where you are going. But if you are running from something, you will never get to where you want to be. Heck, if you are running away from something, you don’t really know where you want to go in the first place.

 

I’ve noticed that running away from something is very much like action without a vision. You do all sorts of things but don’t really get anywhere. The only vision is “not here, not where I am now,” but sadly that type of vision isn’t enough to get you to where you want to be. There’s no focus or plan. If you don’t have any kind of plan, there is no way that you can make good progress.

 

If you walk into a gym and randomly pick exercises, you might make some small gains. But you won’t achieve anything that you find worthwhile. You are running away from your current self. Your current body. Yes, you take action and step into the gym. Congratulations. You took the first step. But if there is no plan, there is a chance that you could be hurting yourself at some point.

 

Same thing in life. There may be 50 different things you want to do. You don’t know what to do so you decide to do all of it, but that’s not going to help you. You just stretch yourself thin. You never really develop mastery or even decent proficiency in any of those goals. You might pick to do one thing, but your approach is so haphazard you don’t make any progress. In the end, you may end up at the same place you started, or maybe even worse.

 

When you have a vision of where you want to go, you not only have more motivation to push yourself, you also make better decisions of how to improve. When you make that workout plan and stick to it because you know what you want to achieve, it becomes so much easier to just do it. You know what you need to do and you get it done. This way too gives you a better way to measure progress. With no way to measure, how do you know which way you are going?

 

Running from something is to let fear take hold of you and your decisions. Running to something forces you to take hold of your fears. Which way are you running?