Every individual carries seeds of originality within and while interacting with others.

© Drawing by Ani Bustamante


©  2021 by Ruth Schimel, PhD, Career & Life Management Consultant, Author

Surprise yourself.  If you are an adult or consider yourself one, your maturity could be distracting you from recapturing your originality.  Maybe your established self is covering what makes you unique, what differentiates you and your contributions.  However significant the milestones and meaning of adulthood, use this article to explore seven ways to detour some of their confines and conventional comforts for your fun and enrichment.  Perhaps trade or modify some of the conforming facades, psychological armor, and behaviors reflecting others’ expectations.  Your choices will add pizzazz and new possibilities to daily life and relationships. https://www.ted.com/talks/casey_gerald_embrace_your_raw_strange_magic?rid=2yDU4hmnDmPg&utm_source=recommendation&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=explore&utm_term=watchNow

Shifting adult roles open new possibilities. Adult life is often described and circumscribed by a series of conventional linear roles.  They come with the rituals, rights, and responsibilities of completing school, working, marrying, parenting, retiring, and leaving the light.  This view suggests a downhill, predictable process following midlife, but is being redefined by shifting roles that provide opportunities for experiment and adventure all along the way.   https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/07/how-ideas-of-adulthood-its-rights-and-responsibilities-are-changing-around-the-world

The belief that life proceeds in stages is more accurately described now with a life span perspective that expands choices for authentic well-being.  Creative and hopeful, this theory is flexible and nonlinear.  Development is lifelong, multidimensional, multidirectional, plastic, contextual, and multidisciplinary. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/productiveaging/lifespan.html

In fact, linear roles no longer describe significant numbers of people.  For example, according to sociologist Eric Klinenberg, 50.2% of American adults are single, even happily so.  Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, examines a slow-but-steady shift towards “happily single.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhPBYLFA_vQ   This half of the population is charting new paths for work and relationships or at least refreshing aspects with varied and original choices.

Given the increasing dynamism of work and relationships as the future rapidly unfolds, lifelong learning provides a wider range of different tickets to self-sufficiency, purpose, and meaning throughout your life.  As a result, you can redefine the “rights” part of adulthood to reflect who you are now and who you want to be.   When you embrace the right to be true to yourself, to express what makes you unique, you are strengthening the bridge to your originality.

Childhood attitudes and experiences remind of your originality.  Rather than being childish or immature, recapture a playful attitude as a link to your originality.  That leads to experimenting with a curious mind rather than conforming first.   Some researchers call this a child-like mindset “focused on immediate desires and spontaneous behaviors…”  It’s conducive to creativity and exploration. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/248825382_Child%27s_Play_Facilitating_the_Originality_of_Creative_Output_by_a_Priming_Manipulation

Are you wondering how to retain the advantages of adulthood while stimulating the re-emergence of a child-like mindset?   If so, you may feel tension between your investment in being a credible adult and possibly vague memories about your original behavior as a child.    One way to transcend this tension is to sustain spontaneity as well as strategic conformity.

Here are seven specific ways to recapture your originality.   Play with them and identify your own strategies while demonstrating your current powers and credibility.

1, Enjoy inspiration from animals and children.  Stretch and enrich everyday situations to access your originality.  For example, see what this adorable baby elephant playing for 2 + minutes suggests for your own spontaneous behavior: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PfGI02oTLM  Or share the video with others, preferably a child.  Chat about associations and actual behaviors the images suggest to you all.

Sample PBS programs such as Sesame Street, Xavier Riddle, and Nature Cat, supposedly for kids.  Enjoy other Animal Planet programs on the Bronx Zoo. Even better, read out loud a fine children’s book suited for most everyone.  Consider how E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web shows Wilbur the pig being saved by spider Charlotte’s writing about him in her web.

2.  Question received beliefs.  Think like a scientist, questioning assumptions and exploring anew, as Adam Grant encourages in his recent book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.  https://bit.ly/3unW7HU

To participate in different ways in this rapidly changing world, identify a few habits you want to freshen, adapt, or change.  Revisit lessons from how you effectively dealt with the covid year of 2020; they may have encouraged you to shift some assumptions about what’s important to you and still safe.  For example, how could work and learning be better conducted?   How do you want to be with others, including deepening and sustaining worthwhile relationships?

3. Let curiosity lead to new pleasures.   Examples include trying and cooking new foods, connecting with different people, learning about a range of cultures, and using varied routes to get places and ideas.  All of them can inter-relate and refresh you.  Explore food as medicine with Dr. Mark Hyman and with Dr. Josh Axe, herbs for health in addition to enhancers of meals.    https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a25906196/what-is-pegan-diet/


4.  Play with new combinations.  Riding the waves of the future benefits from seeing and making connections between seemingly disparate ideas, subjects, and processes.  Math and music have already been connected creatively.   For the healing power of music, read https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/08/well/music-therapy-treatment-stress.html?smid=em-share Google your own ideas to create new views, combinations, and trails for yourself.

Avoid judging your level of expertise as you explore.  The common root of expert, expertise, and experiment is the same.  For inspiration, listen to Cole Porter’s lyrics in his song, Experiment:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQ5T1K-RS9k

5.  Refresh and re-imagine your own personal or professional stories you tell yourself (and others). 

Re-visit your own experiences to inspire deeper appreciation of your unique self.  For example, describe:

  1. When you were moved deeply:
  2. When you felt as though you used your full capacities:
  3. When you worked through something difficult or challenging:
  4. When you transcended a conflict that limited your choices and satisfaction in work or a relationship:
  5. When you used your precious time particularly well:
  6. When you felt joy about a personal or professional outcome, connection, or accomplishment, especially one that made a difference:

6. Free your imagination: According to Charles Darwin (1871) “The Imagination is one of the highest prerogatives of man. By this faculty he unites, independently of the will, former images, and ideas, and thus creates brilliant and novel results …”   Aristotle “agreed” centuries earlier.

To practice, imagine yourself acting as a person who inspires you or an animal that makes you smile.  What would you say?  How would you move?  Even better, imagine being true to yourself in a specific situation in your own life.

7. Learn from other original thinkers: For the possibly surprising habits of original thinkers, listen to Adam Grant’s TED talk (15 minutes) https://www.ted.com/talks/adam_grant_the_surprising_habits_of_original_thinkers?language=en

You are unique, so have fun and benefit from your original ideas and actions as they fertilize however you define your work and what you want in worthwhile relationships.   You will recapture your originality as you follow your curiosity and permit your authentic self to bloom further to benefit yourself and others.

Ruth Schimel Ph.D. is a career and life management consultant and author of the Choose Courage series on Amazon.  She guides clients in animating their strengths and making visions for current and future work viable. Get the bonus first chapter of her now available seventh book, Happiness and Joy in Work: Preparing for Your Future and benefit from Ruth’s invitation to a free consultation on her website.

This article was originally featured on Your Tango and has been republished here in the author’s original text.   https://www.yourtango.com/experts/ruthschimel/ways-communication-catalysts-convert-post-pandemic-anxieties-mutual-benefits

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