Creativity Video: The Playful Search for Beauty [TED Talk]

Each Wednesday, for a while, I’ll be sharing a creativity video from TED. Some weeks I’ll choose a TED talk directly about creativity. Video choices on other Wednesdays might focus on creative people or creative ideas.

If you’re like me, you love TED, but don’t get as much of it, or as many creativity video presentations period, in your life as you’d like because you don’t think of it or you don’t have time. And you miss some videos you’d love just because you don’t find them. So, I’ve appointed myself our TED Talk/creativity video provider for the foreseeable future.

Today’s creativity video from TED features Eva Zeisel, a lifelong artist, on “The Playful Search for Beauty.”

Why and How to Stop Trying to Be Normal and Just Be Who You Are

Stop Trying to Be "Normal" and Be Who You Really AreEveryone knows there’s no such thing as “normal.” We keep pursuing it anyway.

I’m not even going to talk about the futility of that pursuit, because there is a far, far better reason that you should stop trying to be normal.

I’ll tell you that reason in a minute, but first I want to tell you a story.

Once, while talking with a woman who made her living as a therapist, I said, “I can write 500 basic words on just about any topic in under 20 minutes. If it’s a topic I already know I can write 500 words in 7 minutes.”

She looked simply amazed and said, “Wow. Wow. Just wow.”

Now, to me, that’s not that big a deal. I do that every day.

Sit down with a patient with a mental illness and serious emotional issues going on right now in front of me? And then do something to make them feel better? No. I can’t do that. I wouldn’t want to try.

But I also happen to know that this therapist loves gardening. She can grow anything.

I can grow a cactus if someone else takes care of it.

If my friend suddenly decided that writing was “normal” or that not growing plants was “normal,” that What if she also decided that it was important for her to conform to this idea of “normal”?

She might stop seeing patients. She might stop raising her garden.

Or if I care too much about being normal, I might decide writing is not normal and stop doing it.

Here’s the reason I mentioned earlier…

If we both gave up what we love because they weren’t “normal” enough, two things would happen.

First, her patients wouldn’t get help and my readers wouldn’t have anything to read.

Second, we’d both be incredibly unhappy, deprived of following our passions.

And that’s why. That’s why you absolutely have to stop trying to be normal. Because you’re not normal. No one is, but your creativity and energy and curiosity and energy and passions make you special. There are not that many of us Leonardos in most parts of the world. We need to be ourselves because who we are is important. Our creativity serves the world.

And here’s the how…

There are five things you can do to stop trying to be normal and just be who you are. They work better if you do all five.

  1. Accept that “normal” doesn’t exist, or that it is at best a normal target—there is no there, there. There’s nothing for you to “be.”
  2. Ask yourself if you’re doing, being and having what you thought you would at this time in your life.
  3. Then ask yourself if you’re doing, being and having what you want, for now and looking forward.

3a. If the answer to number 3 is yes, your job is to keep doing what you’re doing.

3b. If the answer is no, your job is to determine what you want.

  1. Determine what normal looks like for you. It’s helpful to find people doing what you want to do/are doing and figure out what normal looks like for them, then adjust that.
  2. When you find yourself trying to act like a “normal person,” switch your thinking to act like a “normal you.”

What challenges do you face with the idea of normal and the reality of being who you are?