Order, Rules, and the Creative Life
A life of rules is a life of order. Order and creativity are not opposed concepts, they are different dimensions altogether.
Rules create order, and order can be understood as a form of restriction.
Restrictions can help us to think differently and find creative solutions to problems. When we have too many options or too much freedom, it can be overwhelming and lead to decision paralysis. On the other hand, when we have a limited set of options or constraints to work with, it can help focus our attention and stimulate our creativity.
For example, if you are given a blank canvas and told to paint whatever you want, you may feel overwhelmed by the endless possibilities. However, if you are given a specific theme or told to use a limited color palette, it can help narrow your focus and inspire more creative ideas.
In addition, restrictions can help to challenge our assumptions and push us to think outside the box. By forcing us to work within certain boundaries, we may be forced to come up with new and innovative ways of solving problems or achieving our goals.
If we approach living as a creative act, rules in life can (and should) enhance our creativity.
We follow rules to highlight where our attention should go. By introducing rules we limit the space where our attention wanders, which then in turn allows us to give more undivided attention to the areas we care for the most.
If there are activities in which you want to spend energy, create a rule for them and move on. Let the rule replace the need for attention.
When coming up with rules to save mental energy, pick activities that can easily be automated. Those tasks have a low return on investment. The time spent on them could be better used somewhere else.
If choosing what clothes to wear every morning is not something you care for, create a capsule wardrobe and stop wasting mental cycles on that task.1
Rules allow our attention to focus on what we care about. This helps save our mental energy and creativity for solving problems. Limitations help us solves problems creatively by helping focus our attention in a narrow space. Instead of becoming distracted by noise, we are focused.
Overall, restrictions can be a useful tool for stimulating creativity, as long as they are not overly constricting or unrealistic.
Note: This post was written with help from ChatGPT. More details here.
I stopped thinking about what rings to wear once I got married. The choice of jewelry was done once and once alone.↩︎