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Create or Die

A Manifesto For Fearless
Creators Everywhere

This book reveals just why creativity is the backbone of happiness and success, regardless of your occupation. It discusses the many adversaries to creativity that we are surrounded by and shows how to overcome them to create a powerful life by your own design.

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Your Problem Is Not What You Think It Is

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Let’s say that by some weird coincidence in life, you have a problem that you have to actually deal with and can’t just sweep under the rug. (Hey, most of us never have problems, do we?)

It could be that there’s not enough money flowing. It could be that you’re a researcher who is struggling with grant funding.

Or maybe it’s a relationship problem. You’re just not getting the respect or attention that you think you should from someone important in your life.

Or health issues like chronic pain or the Big C?

Peeling back the layers

Let’s consider any problem you might face just like we’d contemplate the layers of the Earth, from the outer crust to the inner core.

We humans often deal with these issues at the surface – or crust – level.

Let’s say you’re facing chronic pain due to arthritis.

The surface level way to deal with chronic pain is by taking a pain reliever. It makes the pain diminish, temporarily. But it never lasts. It doesn’t solve the underlying condition. In fact, often the underlying condition keeps getting worse over time, and eventually you need to increase the strength of the pain relievers just to keep up. Not only that, but then you’ll have to deal with the impact of long-term pain reliever use, such as ulcers.

Sadly, many people never go beyond that “pain relief” level in addressing their problems.

I see it with entrepreneurs and business owners who cover up the pain by taking just one more job or client they don’t really want to do, but need the “pain relief” of the short-term money fix.

I see it with researchers who write just one more grant proposal to try to get funding for work that they’re not really interested in doing, except for the money that it brings.

You can’t win by just addressing a problem at this “crust level.” While you get temporary “pain relief” it never lasts. And quite often, the actual problem worsens over time, so the “pain relief” needs to get bigger and bigger.

You may move from something like aspirin to ever more potent prescription drugs, and even those potent drugs eventually stop working. It’s a slippery slope and almost never ends well.

Diving Into the Mantle

Some small fraction of people take the time and energy to dive into the next level of a problem. I am thinking about people I’ve known who’ve had chronic arthritis. (I hope that in this discussion you see how it applies to other problems, like money, relationships, etc… because at the core, they all are the same issue).

Very few that I’ve known actually dive down into this level of the problem, where they examine diet and lifestyle factors, and start changing them.

There’s plenty of scientific evidence that certain foods have autoimmune stimulating properties, which in layman’s terms means that they are more likely to cause arthritis. And I’ve met several people who have reduced their arthritic symptoms by paying attention to their diet.

Yet most resist this level. Why? I’ve heard two major reasons:

1) It’s too much effort to change diet. There’s no time. “Why can’t I just take a pill to solve this problem?”

This excuse is just an expression of something our society encourages via messages all around us: take the easy way out. You don’t have to work on yourself. You don’t have to change. You are just “fine” as you are – it’s the nasty circumstances or people that are to blame. Not you!

2) “The science has conflicting data about whether arthritis can be addressed with diet.” Yes, one thing that disease research hasn’t grappled with is human individuality. We each respond differently to different things! So let’s say you have a study that links eating food X to arthritis, but there’s conflicting data. Well, that’s probably because in some people food X does stimulate arthritic conditions and in others food X has the opposite effect.

Confusion and paralysis lead to doing nothing at all

This kind of analysis often leads to confusion and paralysis – i.e. the doing of nothing.

These two things combined often prevent people from even addressing a problem at this level. But let’s say that you decide to go ahead and deal with it at this deeper level. Let’s say you decide to spend the time and effort it takes to figure out what foods and lifestyle factors influence YOUR arthritis.

The rewards can be big. After an initial time of “groping around in the dark” to figure out what works and what doesn’t, you find things that work for you and the condition starts improving. You no longer are dependent on expensive prescription painkillers (with their side effects). You are gaining independence, and no longer identify with the disease condition all the time. It no longer rules your life.

That’s a big step, and it’s one that only a small fraction of people take – for ANY problem. Yet there’s an even deeper step, one that’s even more difficult, that even fewer people take.

Getting to the core

The CORE. What could that be?

It’s the same for ALL problems that ANYONE experiences in ANY area of life.

It is your thinking.

Your thinking defines your actions. If your actions are producing unwanted results, then there’s always some flaw in your thinking that’s producing those actions that are producing the unwanted results!

Now, I’m a believer in a strong mind-body connection. But let’s set that aside for a minute, and pretend that there is no mind-body connection. Let’s pretend that something like arthritis is caused only by “circumstances”.

We know for a fact that diet and lifestyle impact conditions do impact arthritis. So, why do people resist changing those things so much?

It’s all in the thinking. We have all developed egos that “learned how to survive in this world” – and yet the very same ego that knows how to survive often prevents us from dealing with new problems it’s never encountered before.

The Ego Thinks “I’ve Got This Handled” (it rarely does)

The ego thinks it’s got this survival thing figured out! It doesn’t want to change! It is afraid of change! Change is scary! And the ego is fueled by fear.

Yet, if you dive beneath the ego layer of our being, and get to the core, there’s something very different there. There’s that loving, joyous, happy person that nearly all of us are – at least at times – when we are young children, before the adults get hold of us and start programming us to no longer be happy.

So, if we somehow manage to bypass ego, and tap into that core, that loving, happy, joyous person inside just wants us to feel good. It wants us to make the changes we need in order to do that.

Sadly, for most of us, the ego is the dominant voice. Like I said, it’s fueled by fear, and there’s plenty of fear mongering in our world to give it a nice steady supply of fuel. It can become very loud, and very dominant. A bit like that obnoxious drunk guy at the party who talks over everyone else to prove how smart he is. Yes, that’s your ego.  For some reason, you’re listening to him.

It’s rare that I see someone dive down to this CORE level to address an issue, but when they do, the changes are profound.

It’s like a rediscovery of who you really are. It’s like re-meeting your “better self” after that person has hidden away in the closet for decades.

Bringing out your better half

When you bring that better self out of the closet and into your life, she will do what it takes to solve the problem at its core level. In the case of arthritis, she will read lots of books, and start carefully experimenting with different approaches to heal the arthritis.

And, she’ll begin visualizing as well. There’s plenty of evidence that visualization works.

This person, operating from the core, will keep trying things, until she finds things that work. So what if visualization is a “waste of time?” At least she gave it a chance to work! That’s far better than sitting around trying to base your life on what you think in advance “won’t work.” (That’s the fear based ego talking, always).

The worldview of this person operating from the CORE is fundamentally different and far more empowered than the other two levels. At this level, the person realizes that they are totally responsible for shaping their reality and they take charge of it.

At the other levels, there is a lack of this same total responsibility. Instead, the ego chooses to blame problems on circumstances – people, foods, past events, etc…

And as long as you’re blaming a problem on stuff that’s outside of you, you can never find the true solution. That’s because the true solution is always inside of you – but you won’t find it until you start looking inside of you and addressing it at that level.

When you join the rare people who dive into this level, you find a world of so-called “miracle cures” and “amazing turnarounds.” When you take the responsibility for having created your problems, and reclaim the power to solve them, amazing stuff starts happening.

What Level Are You Using?

So I ask you, for any problem you’re facing, what level are you addressing it at? Are you willing to take it deeper, to take full responsibility for that problem, and to change your thinking so that you can finally get it out of your life? Are you ready to start creating your reality rather than “reality” creating you?

Or are you going to keep blaming that problem on things outside of yourself, and giving your power to solve it away to those things?

It’s your choice! That’s the awesome thing about life. We all have that freedom to choose.

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