The title of this book proposes to show you how to be, do, or have anything. At first glance, this seems an outrageous claim. While I admit to wanting to grab the reader's attention, there is more going on here than mere hyperbole. Of course, the "anything" referred to above must be something that is actually possible to realize or accomplish. Yet what is truly impossible is difficult for us to judge. In the course of our daily lives, we encounter as actualities things and experiences that only a hundred years ago would have seemed impossible fantasies far beyond the reach of any reasonable expectation. The times we live in compel even the most pragmatic of realists to be very cautious about saying what can't be done.
"The thing always happens that you really believe in;
and the belief in a thing makes it happen."
—Frank Lloyd Wright
I also want to make it clear that the "how to" in this book refers to general principles of the creative process. How to Be, Do, or Have Anything is certainly not an encyclopedic volume, exhaustively detailing the specific techniques involved in all of the arts and sciences, and I doubt any potential reader, even at first glance, would mistake it for such. When a French team under the direction of Denis Diderot, chief editor of the Encyclopédie, undertook such an effort in the mid-eighteenth century, the result was some seventeen volumes. Today, were a large team of experts to attempt a similarly comprehensive compendium of today's arts and technologies, the result would be many times that size and would already be out of date by the time it could be published.
My objective in writing this book was to present the principles of the creative process in a simple, step-by-step formula that could be easily understood and effectively used by virtually anyone. While some stumble upon it by accident, and a very few make a concerted effort to cultivate it, most go through their entire lives without ever coming to recognize, much less to consistently apply, the creative power they possess. It strikes me as a great failing of our educational system that we do not teach people how to create the results they want in their lives. Instead, we teach them that creativity is the private domain of uncommon individuals who work in special fields. Nothing could be further from the truth!
I have seen firsthand the transformative effect that using the principles in this book can have on even so-called troubled or difficult people. The material contained in this book was originally developed for a course on creative empowerment, called Manifest Your Destiny. In addition to being offered in college classrooms and in seminars for the general public, this course was given to "troubled" high school students and to prisoners in a federal penitentiary. It was particularly gratifying to see how participants in these latter two groups responded to this material. Many found the experience life transforming. They reported dramatic increases in self-confidence and a new sense of optimism about their prospects in life. This not only confirmed my faith in the innate creativity of all human beings but reaffirmed my belief that many good people go "bad" simply because they don't think they can do anything else. If this material can have this kind of effect on those society labels as incorrigible, how much more can it do for you? I am convinced that anyone who understands and consistently applies the principles described in this book will meet with success.
Application is critical. This book is meant to provide an interactive experience for the reader. While you will gain value from simply reading the material in the chapters that follow, you will gain much more by doing the accompanying exercises. The text of this book is meant to provide information and to serve as a catalyst and stimulus to action. The real value comes with doing the exercises, for in so doing, you'll begin to actively engage your own creative capacities in shaping your life. Reading about how to use a hammer and saw will not build a deck or a fence. To the get the finished product, you have to pick up the tools and use them. In the same way, learning about the tools with which you can change your life isn't the same as putting them to work. The creative formula presented in this book will work for you, but you will have to work at it. Don't confuse reading this or any other book with taking the concrete steps necessary to changing your life.
Getting the most from the principles in this book will take more than knowing about them; it will even take more than the personal engagement required to do the exercises. Above all, it will take passion. The poet Yeats said, "Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire." That fire is your creative passion. More than knowledge or even effort, it is your passion that empowers you to be, do, or have what you desire. In every child, the fire of creative passion burns bright. Yet if the bumps and bruises of life have dampened your flame, you must determine to stoke it up again. You fuel your passion by paying attention to what makes you feel alive and energized to what interests and excites you. Passion cares; passion wants; passion ignites spontaneous action.
Resist the temptation to play it safe or hide behind cynicism. There is more to lose than win by holding back. After all, failure can be overcome, but if you lose your passion, you're beaten before you've begun. To lose your passion is to suffer the greatest defeat that any man or woman can ever know, for with it go confidence, beauty, and joy. Only those who keep the fire of passion burning bright have a chance of knowing what a grand and glorious thing it is to be alive. To live your passion, you must believe that something inside of you is stronger than any outer circumstance. You must eliminate not merely the words but the thoughts "can't" and "impossible." You must believe that YOU ARE THE ANSWER -- that whatever the problems and challenges you may face, you have what it takes to master and overcome them.
Given these provisos, I stand behind the promise of the title. It can be logically derived from a simple set of axiomatic tenets, which I call "The Seven Principles of Creative Living." I believe that each of these tenets withstands the test of critical examination, as well as that of common sense. They are briefly sketched below and will be developed at length throughout the course of this book. The message of this book can be summed up in a few simple words: Live your passion. Activate your innate creative power. Best of luck in the creative adventure of transforming your most cherished dreams into living realities!
- Among human beings, creativity is a natural, and not an exceptional, trait. Birds fly, fish swim, humans create.
- For the individual, personal freedom and self-fulfillment depend upon the conscious expression of his or her innate creative capacities. Without such expression, one will meet with unhappiness and unnecessary limitation.
- Social and psychological factors may limit or impede an individual's innate creativity. These factors can be overcome.
- The creative process follows a definite pattern and is essentially the same for all outcomes.
- The creative process is knowable and understandable. It can be taught and learned. (This process will be revealed and explained in this book.)
- The more one creates, the more confident he or she becomes of his or her ability to create.
- Experience gained in applying the creative process in one area of life can be transferred to other areas.
Copyright © 2003 by Laurence G. Boldt
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt from How to Be, Do, or Have Anything may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.