I consider myself to be emotionally neutral. I don’t feel too many things and tend to think too much. I rarely get excited, elated, or surprised, but I’m also hardly ever angry, sad, or scared. I’m just generally content. My mom gets irritated when I call myself a robot, but I don’t mean it in a self-deprecating way. I just have a more logical approach to situations than one based on feelings. My pragmatism has served me well in my life and career, but sometimes it makes it difficult to connect with others because I just seem to see the world differently than most.
I think that’s probably why I’m so drawn to artistic types, and why my business niche is working with creatives. Being around those who have freer spirits and know how to express themselves helps me understand a perspective I don’t always know firsthand, and in return I’m able to help them get more organized and grounded. Being around that energy keeps my right brain active and stops me from living TOO much in my left brain. It helps me keep the balance I find so important.
I also think that’s why music and art have always been such a big part of my life. Sometimes those are the only things that really make me emotional. I go to a lot of concerts, art exhibits, and other artistic performances in search of that inspiration, that moment of actual feeling, even if it’s fleeting. And even though I’m often told I don’t look like I’m enjoying myself, I truly cherish those moments. So when one lasts longer than usual, I take notice.
A couple weekends ago, I went to see my friend Marcus in “Every Brilliant Thing.” I didn’t know anything about the story, but because I know a few people who were involved in the production, I felt I should be there to offer my support. Imagine my surprise when I got there and learned it required audience participation, something which I typically go out of my way to avoid. Seriously. I’m that person who will slink down as far as possible in her chair and avoid eye contact, hoping that will be the precise moment I’m able to tap into some type of superhero invisibility cloak. So when Marcus handed me a piece of paper with a list of things I was to read during the performance, I was pretty apprehensive. But, in my ongoing quest to get out of my comfort zone (something I’ll elaborate on in a future post), I decide to just go with it.
As the play began, I was instantly drawn into the story about a boy who makes a list of every brilliant thing he can think of in hopes of cheering up his suicidal mother. This list becomes a guiding force as he navigates the ups and downs of his own life, eventually becoming the catharsis that heals him. Marcus had great material to work with, but it was his ability to connect emotionally, both with the character he was playing and with the audience, that really made an impact on me. He beautifully maneuvered from heartbreaking to humorous, and truly made everyone feel invested and included.
You can see it in this photo:
(We’ll skip past the fact that my role was not as simple as just reading a word on a piece of paper, but forced me into the center of the theater where my character proposed to his. So much for my invisibility superpower.) Instead, just look at the expressions on the faces in the audience – that is genuine emotion there. That’s real. I truly admire his ability to bring that out in people, and their willingness to let him.
The show also affected me because this concept, the idea of appreciating all the little things, is how I live my life. It’s why, when people ask me about success, I give positive mindset equal billing with hard work. My optimism is what guides me. The ability to find something, anything good in even the worst situations, is what keeps me moving forward. It’s what keeps me happy. It’s so easy to get lost in that search for something bigger, something better, something different, that we forget to acknowledge how many great things we already have.
So if you’re feeling stuck in some part of your life, why not start making your own list of every brilliant thing? The play covered everything from ice cream to Christopher Walken’s hair to the way Ray Charles sings the word “you” in “Drown in My Own Tears.” Your list can be anything you want. Even if it’s just one thing a day, find a way to be grateful for something. Actively focusing on the positive can have a huge effect on your overall state of mind. So decide to find the good in the world. Choose to be happy. Even if you’re emotionally neutral like me.
In this moment, here are five brilliant things to me:
Seeing a friend for the first time in several years but feeling like no time has passed
When a song you’ve heard thousands of times still gives you goosebumps
Watching your cat drag a toy three times her size across the house just to give it to you
When something is so funny it makes you laugh out loud even when you’re alone (there is a new Flight of the Conchords special on HBO that just did this, in case you’re wondering)