A passionate life vs a contributive life

There are many books, videos, blogs, talks that urge you to follow your passion.  These talk about the person as if they have just one passion and say that if you follow that one dream, then opportunities, money, and other things will follow.  The problem with this is that there can be many passions and passions can ebb and flow.  More importantly, does your passion resonate with other’s passions?  If only can your desires bind with that of others, then will opportunities follow.  A sort of ‘Build it and they will come’ kind of thing.

The contributive life is different- it works in reverse.  So you contribute to the desires of many, instead of yourself.  It is easy to see why this will attract more opportunities than the passionate life which is more isolating.  Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, a Japanese philosopher propounded the idea of the contributive life.  He said,”Individual well-being entails cooperative and contributive existence within society,”

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“genuine happiness requires sharing the sufferings and joys of the larger public as a member of society; and it can easily be understood that full and harmonious life within society is an indispensable element for any concept of authentic happiness.”

 

I had read these passages many years ago and had been rather dismissive of them as they seemed to me to be reeking of martyrism and sacrifice instead of ‘good’ and practical business ideas that supported you and your clients.  But last night was an a-ha moment when I realised that Makiguchi’s contributive life was not just good principled practice but also good business advice.  As a crude example, there are many sayings that echo this idea, ‘Selling coals to Newcastle’ is pointless, even if selling coals might be your passion.  There is a Youtube video by Marie Forleo which talks about this by saying,’ How to convince people to pay for your services’

and this one which explains it all (and caused my a-ha moment).  In the video seen by over two million people, Terri Trespicio, says, ‘To live a life full of meaning and value, you don’t live a life of passion; your passion follows you!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

what creativity means to you and you

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Last week I attended an art workshop. Using materials and techniques I would not otherwise use, I created couple of large drawings.  Although my instinct is to go back to what I was doing before, yet by doing something different, I feel I have extended my creative limits.  I was like a child at this workshop, trying colours such as black and white spray paint and stencils- which I have not used before. I used calligraphic pens and rulers too- some new things for me.

Perhaps these things are not new to you.  The point that I am making is to try new things whenever you get a chance. Not only does it extend your repertoire but also tells you why you like what you do.  So now I realise why I paint the way I do- for instance, I like telling stories through my work so I use found objects, newspaper cuttings, cards and photographs.  This is one of my paintings below. It is called ‘Looking, Watching, Seeing’ about fear told through different events that happened in 1976-77.

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Creativity is the only thing that is a relationship between you and you.  Everything else is a relationship between you and someone else- and that relationship can be good or bad, depending upon you and another.  However, the relationship between you and you is only dependent upon one person- you.  It is the gift you give to yourself.  Whether your work is liked or you became rich through it, depends upon the relationship between you and someone else (the viewer/patron) but that is not in your gift.  It is beyond your control.  Your creativity is your gift to yourself, regardless of external gifts. So always gift yourself!