During the past couple of weeks, I have woken on several occasions to the sound of rain rustling the new tree leaves outside my window. Sometimes there have been low grumbles of thunder accompanying the rain. Sometimes only a light breeze adds to the sound of the drizzle. If I have the time to do so, I will lie in bed and listen to these natural melodies for thirty minutes or more before deciding to get up and start my day. This type of spring rain puts me in a mood to create, and the peaceful atmosphere gives me the patience to pursue complex or challenging projects.
If there is no rain to envelop me in this peaceful atmosphere, I tend to listen to music to achieve the same mood and focus. I have several soundtracks and go-to albums of instrumental music which I can use as background noise while I write. If I’m working on paintings, sketches, or photo editing, then I may choose to listen to select singers or groups instead. Music doesn’t create the exact same atmosphere – lighting quality, temperature, and humidity play a part too – but it can help.
We can do many things to develop a setting which is conducive to our productivity and creative pursuits, but something harder to work with are the people around us. Others can and do influence the energy around us, and I don’t mean that in a spiritual or metaphysical way. The attitudes of the people in our lives have an impact on our own moods. If you have people in your life who are creative and pursuing endeavors of their own, they can help to inspire you. People who help you stay accountable to your goals can boost your productivity even if their own pursuits have no resemblance to your own.
People who are apathetic to your goals, however, can undermine your productivity without even realizing it. In making demands on your time, they can create distractions or hamper your time management in ways which put you behind in progress and make it hard to complete projects. Losing momentum on bigger or more complex projects can hurt us in improving our skills and successfully achieving our long-term goals.
It should be obvious that being surrounded by people with a negative and defeatist attitude will also harm our abilities to make progress on our creative pursuits. Over the past two years where the whole world was dealing with the Covid pandemic, I felt like all of society had this negative attitude. (At the very least, the lockdowns hampered my painting pursuits early on as it took nearly two months for me to restock my acrylic paint supplies when necessary to continue several projects.) Dealing with negative individuals can siphon off our mental energy and make it harder to focus on pushing ourselves to the next level of skills and creative expression.
Sometimes the simplest way to deal with apathetic or negative people in our lives is to recognize who they are. Once we recognize that they are holding us back, we can begin to adjust our own behaviors and how we interact with those individuals accordingly. Sometimes its a matter of finding work space which they don’t have access to. Sometimes its about treating our creative endeavors like a second job with a set time schedule; it’s easier to set boundaries with other people when those boundaries are dictated in part by a work schedule. And sometimes we do have to walk away from the people who are bad influences in our lives. It can be hard and painful at times, but if someone is holding us back, then we need to make ourselves the priority and do what is best for us.