Book Cover

Book Cover

What now seems ages ago I read a really great book on happiness, called The Science of Happiness. As I was reading it, SO much appeared applicable to my artist practice (and yours!) so I took some time to reflect and consider its application to the creative process. That article has been really helpful for me to consider another tool to develop my creativity. And today, another book has also afforded us a similar opportunity. The book I’m considering today is entitled, The Social Animal (disclosure: affiliate-link).

The Social Animal was written by David Brooks, a journalist who felt driven to reflect on the nature of our subconscious and unconscious mind. And because his research intersects with so many aspects of human life, such as politics, psychology, sociology, economics, etc. Mr. Brooks found a creative means of presenting this research. He invented two people and we follow their journey from in utero through to death. The culminating argument of this book is: “Our experience of ourselves is misleading.” He goes so far as to say, “We are not who we think we are.”


Ultimately the argument, through heavy research (expressed through the life of his fiction couple), suggests we consciously believe we have more control over our lives and its journey than we do. And that of those things we do have control over, some of them are not what we think we actually have control over… trying saying that whole thing three times fast!

Why should you care?

Well, this got me thinking about creativity. How much control can we exert over our minds to generate creativity? I don’t believe the notion that you have to “be in the mood” to create, that is an excuse to avoid success/failure/”the” project/whatever. And over the course of many blog posts I have argued we can harness our subconscious to help our creative process. The Social Animal is yet another argument for the support of and focus on our subconscious mind. We have a HUGE resource we barely acknowledge in our lives and yet this book suggests it may drive most of our existence.


What exactly is going on inside our head? We don’t really know!

There are many quotes out there about resilience and effort. That failure is not the end, but rather a stepping stone to success. And yet, so many of us, myself included, can avoid facing that fear, ultimately avoiding goals we dream of achieving. The arts are a career or hobby that can be riddled with those feelings, but here is another researcher suggesting that it is resilience that can make someone feel successful, or not:

“the most important thing is to develop…an awareness of how little you are likely to know and how little you will understand the things you do know. Much of life is about failure, whether we acknowledge it or not, and your destiny is profoundly shaped by how effectively you learn from and adapt to failure.”

I recommend you take the time to read The Social Animal. This book scared me and empowered me all in one. First, it told me the whole way I see the world and especially myself is completely false, that there is no way for us to really know anything. Yet, at the same time, Brooks calls for us to acknowledge and embrace that in order to be open to new experiences, ideas, and to hopefully open more doors to us throughout our lives. If we took some more time to consider this creatively, how many more people could access the dormant artist within?! Food for thought.

Artist Strong Action: Take some time to think about your use of intuition or subconscious in your daily life. Do you use it for creativity? What is one step you could take towards harnessing your creative subconscious?