Tag mundane

Find happiness in the humdrum, rediscover the mundane, && { embrace the ordinary…* }

Most commentary on the explosion of social media and tedious micro-blogging has been negative: we’ve become a generation of over-sharers, we’re over documenting our lives rather than experiencing them.

But recent research suggests that you should NOT delete your tumblr or deactivate your Twitter. A recent article in Psychology Today reminds us all to both document and embrace the ordinary. As the author, Dr. Amie Gordon says,

Even when it seems silly, or not worth it, take the time to record the seemingly unmemorable moments in your life. The future you will be grateful. 

(my ordinary)

(my ordinary)

In a series of studies by Zhang et al. (2014), the authors find that we derive joy from reliving records of the past, in the form of rediscovery, and that people systematically underestimate the value of rediscovering the past. They find that individuals underestimate the extent to which rediscovering past experiences will be thought-provoking and interesting in the future. Additionally, the authors found that people find pleasure in rediscovering ordinary, mundane experiences, not just extraordinary ones. Furthermore, a final study demonstrated that ordinary events are perceived as much extraordinary over time.

(my humdrum)

(my humdrum)

Some tips on how to document your ordinary life include taking a photo a day, write “a day in the life” posts, or keep a journal. One website called the 365 project helps facilitate the photo-a-day challenge. Dr. Gordon states that “a day in the life” blog posts are her favorites to read, and I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. For inspiration, A Cup of Jo did a feature called Motherhood around the World, where mothers documented their seemingly mundane lives to contrast with those of other cultures.

Who knew that those Instagram posts about what you ate for breakfast might bring you happiness after all. 🙂

(my mundane)

(my mundane)

…There is magic in the ordinary. It is the ordinary among us after all who make the world go round, who live quietly graceful lives, and who, when heroes are needed, step forward to make a difference…
[Roberta Gately, Huffington Post]

[all Instagram photos are my own]

“I want to create a mystery, not to solve it” – Making the Ordinary Unknown to Enhance Creativity, Learning & Innovation …*

“I want to create a mystery, not to solve it” - Making the Ordinary Unknown to Enhance Creativity, Learning & Innovation ...* | rethinked.org - Photo: Elsa Fridman

“Fear of the unexplainable has not only impoverished our inner lives, but also diminished relations between people; these have been dragged, so to speak, from the river of infinite possibilities and stuck on the dry bank where nothing happens. For it is not only sluggishness that makes human relations so unspeakably monotonous, it is the aversion to any new, unforeseen experience we are not sure we can handle.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

This quote from Rilke, which I found on Brain Pickings, captures this week’s theme and a core principle of our team: the need to embrace and practice making the ordinary unknown.

Over on The Guardian, Charlie Skelton makes an intriguing point about René Magritte’s art sharing structural similarities to comedy, in that both hinge on making the ordinary unknown:

Magritte once said: “I want to create a mystery, not to solve it.” Still, without trying to “solve” these compositions, we can at least examine their construction. It’s noticeable that many of the techniques Magritte uses for creating his mysterious images are to be found in comedy writing. His pictures are frequently structured like jokes.

[…]

A good comic can take something mundane and familiar and make you see it an unexpected way, whether it’s Dave Chappelle talking about “grape drink”, or Louis CK ranting about his four-year-old daughter. Magritte will do the same by sticking a silk mask on an apple. Or having a cloud enter a room by a door. Magritte “transformed the everyday” says Professor Elza Adamowicz of Queen Mary University, London. He “created a world of irrational juxtapositions, which shake us out of our comfortable expectations”. These irrational juxapositions have the stripped-down clarity of a one-liner. “His style is neutral in a way,” says Camu. “He wanted to make surreal propositions without distracting the viewer with style or painterly surfaces.”

[…]

For Magritte, all the world’s a stage, and existence is throughly absurd. His aim is to make us see the absurdity, to jolt us out of dumb acceptance – “to make us think and imagine outside the box”, as Adamowicz puts it. To stop seeing the world as one uncomplicated thing. With Magritte, everything is something else as well. Owls are plants. Balustrades are people. Shoes are feet. And paintings are jokes. Knock knock. Who’s there? A cloud.

This focus on shifting our frame of reference and its ties to comedy reminded me of Tina Seelig, who has often mentioned jokes as a fun and effective way to practice reframing one’s perspective to enhance creativity and innovation capacities:

There are some entertaining ways to practice changing your perspective. One of my favorites is to analyze jokes. Most are funny because they change the frame of the story when we least expect it. Here is an example:

Two men are playing golf on a lovely day. As the first man is about to tee off, a funeral procession goes by in the cemetery next door. He stops, takes off his hat, and bows his head.
The second man says, “Wow, you are incredibly thoughtful.”
The first man says, “It’s the least I could do. She and I were married for 25 years.”

As you can see, the frame shifts in the last line. At first the golfer appears thoughtful, but he instantly turns into a jerk when you learn that the deceased person was his wife.

Another classic example comes from one of the Pink Panther movies:

Inspector Clouseau: Does your dog bite? 
Hotel clerk: No. 
Clouseau: [bowing down to pet the dog] Nice doggie. [he dog bites Clouseau’s hand.]
Clouseau: I thought you said you dog did not bite!
Hotel Clerk: That is not my dog.

Again, the frame shifts at the end of the joke when you realize they are talking about two different dogs. Take a careful look at jokes, and you will find that the creativity and humor usually come from shifting the frame.

Reframing problems takes effort, attention, and practice, and allows you to see the world around you in a brand-new light. You can practice reframing by physically or mentally changing your point of view, by seeing the world from others’ perspectives, and by asking questions that begin with “why.” Together, these approaches enhance your ability to generate imaginative responses to the problems that come your way.

Source: How Reframing A Problem Unlocks Innovation 

Speaking of Seelig, over on Boston.comSanjay Salomon has an article about “failure resumes” where he highlights some pointers given to him in a phone interview by Seelig.

A “failure resume” is not a document of personal missteps that you send to potential employers or post on your LinkedIn profile. Instead, it’s a private exercise is meant to make students, job-seekers, employees, and others confront, acknowledge, and learn from their mistakes in order be wiser when the next challenge arises.

Seelig requires each of her students to complete a failure resume to help them “realize that viewing their experiences through the lens of failure forces them to come to terms with the mistakes they have made along the way and to extract important lessons from them.”

My students have to look at their mistakes from different angles, and to prepare for next time they face a similar challenge,” said Seelig. “It’s important to mine your failure in order to learn.”

In her blog “CreativityRulz,” Seelig explains that items listed on a failure resume can include professional, personal, or even social blunders. Students are supposed to outline what they learned from the experience in order “to extract important lessons from them.” Seelig told Boston.com the failure resume is a helpful way to get students out of their comfort zones.

“Students are used to looking at their lives through the lens of success,” said Seelig. “But if you’re only looking at your success, then you’re missing an opportunity to learn from your failures. You’re also being disingenuous, since the road to success is riddled with failure.”

Source: Can a Failure Resume Help You Succeed?

Is this something you’ve tried? I’m rather intrigued by the idea and I’m hoping to carve out some time this weekend to get started on my own failure resume.

reframe, learn, create & innovate …*

{ You Don’t Need to Travel Far to Unhouse Yourself } Being Open To the Potential All Around Us Is A Choice …*

{ You Don’t Need to Travel Far to Unhouse Yourself } Being Open To the Potential All Around Us Is A Choice ...* | rethinked.org

A few weeks ago, I shared a list of the top five things that walking 500 miles helped me understand in a deeper or different way. Here is a bit more context around the third lesson- be open.

Earlier this week, Jenna remarked that we have both been writing a lot about travel these past few months. Perhaps even with puzzling frequency given that this is a learning innovations blog. Yet few activities compare to travel in terms of speed and efficiency at making the ordinary unknown–a critical condition for deep learning, cultivating empathy, curiosity and a host of other learning and flourishing-enabling capacities that fascinate (obsess) us, here at rethinked …*

When we travel, the scope and definitions of what we know become more malleable; we shed our routines and leave behind our habits. Our assumptions are questioned–whether by will or circumstance, or both.

This enlargement of the mundane through added awareness and presence is one of the most fantastic aspects of travel. But what I realized during my walk is that it is possible, easy even, to capture this sense of mystery and presence inherent to travel in one’s everyday. It is a question of choice, of choosing to be open to the present moment.

When I was walking, I met new people every single day–people of all backgrounds, ages and interests. In fact, some of the most meaningful friendships I made were with people I would likely not have been open to meeting at home in New York. I felt significantly more social on the Camino and more excited by the things around me–I peeked around corners; I entered decrepit buildings; I climbed bell towers; I looked up in churches. I felt so eager to interact with the life all around me and I found that many of the barriers I experience in New York, things like anxiety or tiredness, were absent. I wondered why that was and thought how nice it would be to live one’s life as if perpetually in foreign territory. And that’s when I realized how accessible it is to do just that. When I set out for my walk, as I almost always do when I prepare to travel, I set for myself the intention of being open and attentive to the new people I would meet and the new places I would visit. And then I did exactly that, and it was enough, it worked, I lost myself in the best way in the present moment all throughout my trip.

All one has to do is decide to be open to the potential that surrounds us. It seems obvious and it is. But so often we get caught up in the flow of things and we forget that our daily surroundings are teeming with potential for new discoveries, connections and experiences.

There’s a quote from one of Martin Amis’ brilliant novels, Time’s Arrow, which I love and which I’ve shared here before:

Mmm—people! It seems to me that you need a lot of courage, or a lot of something, to enter into others, into other people. We all think that everyone else lives in fortresses in fastnesses: behind moats, behind sheer walls studded with spikes and broken glass. But in fact we inhabit much punier structures. We are, it turns out, all jerry-built. Or not even. You can just stick your head under the flap of the tent and crawl right in. If you get the okay.

We have these ideas of the world being much more impermeable than it actually is. The places, people and experiences that surround us have infinite potential to surprise and delight us, if we just remember to be open. If we make the choice, daily, of asking for the okay.

{ Dirty Car Art & Bicycle Symphonies } Finding Wonder In The Everyday And Creating Delight Out Of The Ordinary …*

At the heart of our team, mission and work is a deep commitment to framing and experiencing the everyday and the mundane with delight, curiosity and wonder. We seek to make the ordinary unknown in an attempt to better uncover its vast untapped potential to make life more salient, human and fulfilling. But it is sometimes all too easy to lose track of this perspective, to become distracted by the superficial and overlook the magic of the mundane. I was thrilled to come across the works of the two artists featured below–Scott Wade –The Dirty Car Artist– and composer Johnnyrandom–whose art, each in his own way, is about finding wonder in the everyday and creating delight out of the ordinary. A welcome reminder of what’s important.

delight & rethink…

 

“Through music, I want to change the way that people perceive their surroundings and I hope this will inspire others to look at every day objects with more curiosity and wonder.”

Johnnyrandom | Bespoken from Johnnyrandom on Vimeo. [ Hat Tip: Making Music With A Bike  via Colossal, published January 15, 2014 ]

Composer Johnnyrandom breaks new ground with musical compositions made exclusively from everyday objects. His debut single, “Bespoken”, explores the full potential of sounds generated from bicycles and their components, transcending the role of traditional instrumentation as the accepted method for creating beautiful and thought-provoking music. 

Head over to soundcloud to sample a breakdown of selected sound elements combined in Bespoken – from tire inflating to handlebar tube hits. You can also download the full single on iTunes.

 [ …*

“It’s weird because dirty cars are so much a part of our culture and when we see a dirty car we think, ‘Oh God, that’s ugly, it’s an eyesore, you have to go wash it.’ When you can turn that into beauty, then it challenges our perception of what’s beautiful, what’s not beautiful. Plus, dirty car is a mobile art gallery.”  – Scott Wade

The Dirty Car Artist – Scott Wade [ Hat Tip: Dirty Car Art, by Scott Wade via My Design Stories, published January 13, 2014 ]

Tina Roth Eisenberg on Living the Creatively Courageous Life …*

Tina Roth Eisenberg on Living the Creatively Courageous Life ...* | rethinked.org

 

“Life is all about the people you meet and what you make with them.”

“So many good things have come out of collaborating. Just the amount you learn from each other and the things you can build when you find likeminded people with complimenting skills.”

“I think inspiration comes from being aware of even the most mundane things, like how a teabag seeps into the napkin you just placed it on. You might see a pattern, or just beauty in it, and that gives you an idea. If you narrow it down, it’s life. It’s being a curious person. That, in the end, is all the inspiration you need.”

“If I’m aiming to do one thing, it’s to have one set of values that I can apply both at work and at home, because at the end of the day, work and home—you’re just being you.”

“Creativity, to me, means not shying away. I have this personal rule, if I’m afraid of something, I really need to do it, because that means that I will learn a lot from it. That’s what I live for. I live for that feeling that I’ve dared, I’ve tried something new, and I’ve learned something new.”

“I think my biggest life lesson is that generosity always pays off; generosity of spirit, attention or time.”

 

Head over to PSFK to read the complete interview and delight in Tina’s brilliant insights on living the creatively courageous life.

make & rethink

[ Source:Why Confronting Deep Fears Is Essential To Creativity via PSFK’s Free Radicals Series  ]

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