do whatever brings you to life

#25 – Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you need a lift, wisdom and beautiful sentences, I recommend this book…

…or you could listen to the author’s TED talk – Success, failure and the drive to keep creating – one of the most popular TED talks ever.

But nothing is the same as reading.

Except maybe a really good pizza, fresh from the oven.

The most important thing for me from the book

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.
The rest of it will take care of itself.”

It doesn’t mean you have to leave your job and follow your passion. It means you find the time and discipline to do what you love. And don’t be ashamed of what you are obsessed about.

What are you obsessed about?

When I was 14, I went to my classmate’s house and when the rest of my friends were playing Nintendo, I spent hours tidying his bookshelf. True story.

When I was working in video production, my favourite part was editing. I loved being in front of a computer and putting shots together.

At work, I am called upon to “make slides sexy” but what I really love to do is to discard the unnecessary and to organise information to focus on the essential.

I love Marie Kondo and her decluttering method.


What are you obsessed about? Do that. It will bring you to life and create a revolution in your heart.

Let a hundred flowers bloom.

What is creative living?

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

Creative living is finding those strange jewels buried deep within us. And for that, we need courage.

Courage doesn’t mean getting rid of fear

Gilbert says we should “make space for fear, too” in our lives. She describes this beautifully by imagining her talk with Fear:

“Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting… But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still—your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”

Oh wow

“and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.”

this should be on a poster.


It’s not the world’s job to take care of us. Accept it.

“This is a world, not a womb.”

I don’t know about you but this sentence strengthens me and I will use it the next time I feel sorry for myself.

As Seth Godin wrote recently on his amazing blog:

“The universe is not laughing at us. It doesn’t even know we exist.”

Made me laugh.


How to deal with criticism?

“Let people have their opinions… And always remember that people’s judgments about you are none of your business.”

What is your business then?

“I can only be in charge of producing the work itself. That’s a hard enough job. I refuse to take on additional jobs, such as trying to police what anybody thinks about my work once it leaves my desk.”

…, anyhow

“We all spend our twenties and thirties trying so hard to be perfect, because we’re so worried about what people will think of us. Then we get into our forties and fifties, and we finally start to be free, because we decide that we don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of us. But you won’t be completely free until you reach your sixties and seventies, when you finally realize this liberating truth—nobody was ever thinking about you, anyhow.”

Made me laugh too. I knew this but I sometimes forget that nobody gives a shit about us.


So, what is the secret?

“I believe that curiosity is the secret. Curiosity is the truth and the way of creative living.”

Tesla: How can we make a car that does not harm the environment?

Google: How can we organise the world’s information?

Facebook: How can we connect people better?

Apple: How can we make a dent in the universe?

Great companies have great ideas that are impossible without curiosity.

I’m learning to be more curious. To ask more questions. To ask better questions. To find out. To not accept the status quo. To be dissatisfied. To keep asking why. To be like a child.

Curiosity is the secret. And the first questions we need to ask: what are the secret jewels hidden within us and do we have the courage to live creative lives?


Do me a favor. Read the book.


I’m inspired by Mark Zuckerberg’s annual projects and decided to have one of my own. Read a non-fiction book every week and write about it. Subscribe to my newsletter.


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