The Doing Beautiful Things During Boring Or Battling Times Approach

There are many ways to feed the soul. One approach is to do beautiful things during boring or battling times. Let’s look at some examples.

People who are having treatment for cancer often do things to brighten their own and other people’s lives. They may wear colourful clothing, aim to appreciate special moments or do practical work to help other people.

People who feel bored may do things that give them positive energy. They may play beautiful music, study success or embark on doing creative projects.  

Desmond Tutu believed it was important to do small things – as well as big things – that lift the spirit. Writing in The Impossible Will Take A Little While, Paul Rogat Loeb, describes how Tutu laughs and loves life.

Tutu, like other social and political activists who haven’t forgotten the importance of enjoyment, passionately embraces the gifts placed before him.

Maria Popova aims to encourage the positive spirit in people. She grew up in Bulgaria before leaving for the United States and creating the website Brain Pickings which has been renamed as The Marginalian.

Maria aims to pass on knowledge that enables people to be creative and shape their future lives. In one article she reflected on the lessons she had learned during her time writing the blog. These included the following tips for maintaining your own spirit during challenging times.

Be generous

Be generous with your time and your resources and with giving credit and, especially, with your words. It’s so much easier to be a critic than a celebrator.

Always remember there is a human being on the other end of every exchange and behind every cultural artifact being critiqued.

To understand and be understood, those are among life’s greatest gifts, and every interaction is an opportunity to exchange them.

Build pockets of stillness into your life

Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming and even boredom. 

The best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations.

Most important, sleep. Besides being the greatest creative aphrodisiac, sleep also affects our every waking moment, dictates our social rhythm and even mediates our negative moods.

Presence is far more intricate and
rewarding an art than productivity

Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, our ability to perform this or that.

The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living — for, as Annie Dillard memorably put it, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time

This is borrowed from the wise and wonderful Debbie Millman, for it’s hard to better capture something so fundamental yet so impatiently overlooked in our culture of immediacy.

The myth of the overnight success is just that — a myth — as well as a reminder that our present definition of success needs serious retuning.  

The flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.

Don’t be afraid to be an idealist

E.B. White, one of our last great idealists, was eternally right when he asserted half a century ago that the role of the writer is “to lift people up, not lower them down” – a role each of us is called to with increasing urgency, whatever cog we may be in the machinery of society.

Seek out what magnifies your spirit

Patti Smith, in discussing William Blake and her creative influences, talks about writers and artists who magnified her spirit – it’s a beautiful phrase and a beautiful notion.

Who are the people, ideas, and books that magnify your spirit? Find them, hold on to them, and visit them often. Use them not only as a remedy once spiritual malaise has already infected your vitality but as a vaccine administered while you are healthy to protect your radiance.

Paul Rogat Loeb says: “Hope is a way of looking at the world.” Writing in The Impossible Will Take A Little While, he says that one person’s actions can inspire others. He describes this in the following way.

We live in a contradictory world. Dispiriting events coincide with progress for human dignity. But when change occurs, it’s because people persist, whatever the nature of their causes.

“The world gets worse. It also gets better,” writes Rebecca Solnit in her wonderful essay Acts of Hope. Change comes, Solnit argues:

“Not by magic, but by the incremental effects of countless acts of courage, love, and commitment, the small drops that wear away stones and carve new landscapes, and sometimes by torrents of popular will that change the world suddenly.”

There are many ways to feed the soul. One approach is to do beautiful things during boring or battling times. This can provide benefits for both yourself and other people.

Looking ahead, can you think a situation where you may want to follow elements of this approach? How can you do this in your own way? What may happen as a result of taking these steps?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>