Brainiac’s guide to Passion, Art, Creativity, and Productivity

https://onbeing.org/programs/elizabeth-gilbert-choosing-curiosity-over-fear-may2018/

I think curiosity is our friend that teaches us how to become ourselves. And it’s a very gentle friend and a very forgiving friend, and a very constant one. Passion is not so constant, not so gentle, not so forgiving, and sometimes. not so available. And so, when we live in a world that has come to fetishize passion above all, there’s a great deal of pressure around that. And I think if you don’t happen to have a passion that’s very clear, or if you have lost your passion, or if you’re in a change of life where your passions are shifting, or you’re not certain, and somebody says, “Well, it’s easy to solve your life. Just follow your passion,” [laughs] I do think that they have harmed you, because it just makes people feel more excluded and more exiled and, sometimes, like a failure.

“Creative living is choosing the path of curiosity over the path of fear”

The pressure that comes with the phrase “find and follow your passion” is real. So I like how Liz reframed the “pursuit of passion” into a more accessible: “pursuit of curiosity” — makes it significantly less daunting.


I have always been a typical brainiac: logical, left brain, rational kid. I worship reason. I’m interested in the typical left-brain thinker porn: problem solving, lateral thinking, critical thinking. I like things to be quantifiable, tangible, factual I shun at the woo woo “creative”, claiming proudly “I got no artsy bone”.

But the past couple of years I have made peace with the realisation that I am creative and the left-brain stuff I do and create are my art. In fact, everyone is creative. it’s just you, creat-ing things. And art is just whatever you put to the world: your art is your self expression.

Basically, I slowly accepted that being right brained is not “less than” being left brained.

And now I can’t help but think of two other reframes:
– creativity -> exploration. seeing things however you want and can.
– productivity -> self expression

Creativity” is also loaded word for me. There’s a burden for the outcome to be good, brilliant, mindblowing, unexpected.

Exploration“, on the other hand, frees me up to just try things, play with what is possible. No pressure of finding or arriving.

Producing” feels like a push, a demand, a responsibility. And there’s an implicit expectation that whatever I put out there needs to be recognised, appraised, and validated. And underneath all that: fear. Fear that I won’t get all those feedback.

But “expressing yourself” is just something you do for the sake of letting it out. You’re pulled into expressing yourself. You just want to share.

So yeah: two reframes to shift from outcome-based to process-based thinking.


Check out the rest of the interview as well. Interesting concepts to ponder: passion x intimacy, clues vs destination (or I like to think of it as having a map vs roadmap).

And while you’re on it, I also find this video of her breaking down the difference between a hobby, a job, a career, and a vocation here super enlightening.

14 Replies to “Brainiac’s guide to Passion, Art, Creativity, and Productivity”

  1. How about system based thinking?

    Thinking in a system nudge our perception to care about achievement of the goal, our north star, by troubleshooting the bottleneck / weakest link of the processes

  2. As long as the pressure of reaching the outcome is manageable then systems thinking is neutral I guess. I just need to rewire my brain to focus more on the iteration and not obsessed about the destination.

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