I am disappointed about the status of my writing life

Creative Pragmatism


The Context

Pragmatism focuses on the concrete difference something makes in our actual experience. When a belief or action corresponds to a positive external reality for us, then it's profitable to our lives. Period. No explanation needed. If we can accomplish that one thing and nothing more, then we'll discover fulfillment no matter what happens. James, the first educator to bring a psychology course to this country, pioneered this philosophy over a century ago. Pragmatism, according to the scholar, poses the following question. What is the cash value in experiential terms? The leverage of this question cannot be understated. You can use this concept as a filter for everything you do.

The Tool

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Creative Pragmatism

CREATIVE PRAGMATISM — Focusing on the concrete, positive difference art making has in your actual experience of life

When you train yourself to see things for their immediate cash value, you gain greater control over your attitude directly, rather than letting the external environment dictate how you feel. Nobody can take that away from you, and it's one hell of a superpower. Pragmatism focuses on the concrete difference something makes in our actual experience, right now. If it corresponds to a positive external reality in our lives, then it's worth it. What satisfying activity could you invest in to give yourself a positive lift? How could your imagined version of the future caused by that activity be useful to you today? Adams, the cartoonist turned political pundit, summarized it best in his book about failure. Ideas change the world routinely, and most of those ideas originate from ordinary people. The prospect of starting your own thing gives you an enormous amount of energy. Even if they fail, you'll emerged with just enough new skills, knowledge, and contacts that your odds in the future are far higher. Make no mistake, this cash value filter won't change your external reality. But it will alter your point of view about it, which will ultimately influence your behavior. Who knew being pragmatic could be so creative? When was the last time you gained greater control over your attitude directly?

Scott's Take

Scott's Take

During the coronavirus quarantine, my pragmatism was on full blast. The economic turbulence, social anxiety, communal grief and cultural trauma swirling around me was sad, confusing and scary. There was no fighting those feelings. But those negative forces also motivated me in a new way. The global pandemic got me thinking about values like utility, service and contribution. I wondered how to potentially leverage my innate talents to help make the world a more efficient and expressive place. That's when the surreal state of the world triggered a creative idea inside my head. One that had been simmering in me for many years, but now was brought to a boil. That project was this very software platform you're on right now. It's funny, that whole year, it often slipped my mind that we were experiencing a global pandemic. That's the power of creative pragmatism.

The Rest

The enjoyable feeling that you get from fantasizing about the success of your idea has immediate cash value. Feeling energized to get up each morning because of having this big, interesting thing in the works, it is a pragmatic tool for combating the chaos. The possibility of contributing to the world in a new way is hugely motivating.

The Benefits

Launch projects that give you fulfillment no matter what happens
Become energized by seeing things for their immediate cash value
Maintain optimism over the long term, despite failures, setbacks and rejection
Gain greater control over your attitude directly, rather than letting the external environment dictate how you feel.

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