I’ve literally just finished reading this great book that I really want to recommend to you called The Path of Least Resistance by Robert Fritz subtitled Learning to Become a Creative Force in Your Own Life.
Here's what I’ve found fascinating about this book: Firstly, he outlines that most of us spend a lot of our lives living in what he calls the reactive responsive orientation, and what happens in this orientation is that generally we’re moving between what we don’t want and what we do want all the time.
Essentially what happens in most of our life is that we’re either moving away from pain or we’re moving towards pleasure; away from what we don’t want and towards what we do want. And we’re doing this in problem-solving mode a lot of time, so we’re trying to solve the problems in our lives in order that we can get what it is that we think will make us happy.
The problem with this is that the motivation that we have to move away from pain depends on the amount of pain that we’re currently experiencing, and our motivation towards pleasure depends on the amount of pleasure that we think we can experience. And what happens is that as we begin to experience less pain and more pleasure, the drive towards getting what we want actually reduces because the amount of pain that we feel from not having what we want also reduces because we’re moving further away from it.
So what happens is that we stop moving away from the thing that’s causing us pain and over time we start sliding back towards it until we start feeling the pain again and then we start moving again back towards pleasure.
So this cycle shows up in a whole bunch of places; dieting is a classic example. If you’re overweight and you want to lose weight and you work really, really hard, you lose some weight and then you start getting the body that you want, the shape that you want, the weight that you want, you forget about dieting and start eating crap again and then you just put the weight back on.
So you’re always oscillating and just moving back and forth, and you never really get out of this cycle because you can never totally get to what you really want because once you get there you’ve lost the pain completely that’s been motivating you and therefore you just start backsliding again.
Well, that all sounds pretty depressing, isn’t it? Like, there’s no way out of that vicious cycle. Well, actually, according to Fritz, there is. And the way out of that cycle is instead of trying to move away from what you don’t want, what you do is you decide to create what you want in your life.
So the way to get out of reactive responsive mode is to get into creative mode, and in creative mode what happens is that you work out a vision. Like, you have a vision in your head of what it is that you want to create and the idea is that you’re creating this thing simply because you’re a creative being and you’re in touch with your creativity and you just want to create it.
So you’re not creating something in order to solve some kind of problem or get some kind of pleasure out of it; you’re just creating for the sheer sake of the creative process. And the creative process turns out to be, for the most part, very fulfilling.
Of course you have ups and downs along the way. Creative people are not always in a happy space all the time. But essentially the idea is that if you orient your whole life towards a creative process, then what will happen is that your life becomes much more fulfilling in the long-term and you establish momentum.
So the more creating that you do, the easier it is that you find the whole creative process because you’ve come to master the process, you know what the ups and downs are, you understand the pitfalls and you no longer get put off when things maybe don’t go your way first up, which is often what happens. Because of a step in a creative process, there’s often some pitfalls to overcome.
Now, according to Fritz, the key to understanding this creative process is to understand tension. Now, tension is what’s driving us towards what we want and away from what we don’t want in the reactive responsive orientation, and tension is the reason why that situation can never really resolve to give us what we want because the pull towards what we want is always pulling against the pull away from the pain that we’re experiencing.
So once we get further and further towards what we want, we lose the pull towards working towards what we want and therefore we get pulled back towards the pain that we don’t want. By contrast, in the creative process we’re not trying to move away from anything or towards anything; we’re simply trying to create what it is that we have envisaged in our mind.
So what happens in the creative process is that as soon as we establish our creative vision for what it is that we want to create, there’s now an immediate contrast between the current reality where we don’t have the thing that we want to create and our creative vision of what we do want to create.
This creates tension, and tension is sometimes an unpleasant experience and there is some unpleasantness associated with this fact that we don’t yet have the thing that we want to create. But what happens in the creative process is that the tension between the current reality and what we want to create pulls us from the current reality towards the thing that we want to create.
Now, rather than getting all preoccupied with the process of getting from our current reality to what we want to create, all we have to do is establish this vision of what it is that we want to create and then life circumstances and our own innate drives and other people’s contributions will start working towards moving us from our current reality towards the thing it is that we want to create.
Now, this works in the fields of the arts or in music or in writing. Whenever a creative person has some vision of what it is that they want to create, they naturally find that the forces in their life then start conspiring towards actually creating that thing that they’re looking for.
Now, of course, it doesn’t always work just seamlessly and painlessly; there’s a lot of effort involved in the creative process. But that effort is inspired by this vision that we have of the thing that we want to create and what it will be like once we have that.
Now, the really interesting thing about this book is that it teaches you how to apply the creative process not just to create works of art or music or writing or whatever creative artists generally do, but it teaches you how to use that same process in your own life.
And once again, the idea is that you establish a creative vision for what you would like your life to be about, you recognize the current reality of where it is that you’re currently coming from and all you have to do each day is take one single step. Just take the next step to move you from your current reality towards the vision of what it is that you are inspired to create.
And because you are inspired to create it, you will naturally be encouraged and inspired to take each step that is required along the journey from your current reality to the thing that you want to create without being overly preoccupied by what the process is.
Now, you don’t even need to know what the process is of creating the thing that you want to create when you establish your creative vision. All you do is say, “I’m going to go create this. I’m going to have a life where I’m surrounded by beautiful women who really love me.” Or, “I’m going to have a life where I’m up on stage teaching people fundamental concepts that are helping them and inspiring them.” Or, “I’m going to have a life where I’m entertaining people with humor.” Or, “I’m going to have a life where I’m creating something of real value to society and helping other people and feeling really fulfilled.”
The more specific you can be about your vision, the easier it’s going to be to know when you get there, but there are a lot of details that you don’t have to work out when you establish this creative vision. Often an artist doesn’t know exactly how a picture is going to turn out when they start painting; they just have a vague idea in their mind about what it is they want to create and the rest of it just comes to them in the process.
Now, this process isn’t going to be trivial the first time you go to apply it, but essentially the more often you establish and learn and apply the creative process, the easier it becomes.
So I highly recommend that you get this book called The Path of Least Resistance by Robert Fritz.