I don’t know that I believe there is such a thing as having too much life within you. I tend to think that some of us are simply more adept than others at using our energies and our intelligence harmoniously. When you are creative, or when you are a person of many interests who feels pulled in multiple, often competing directions, the rules for maintaining internal order may apply differently. When creative folks are not quite in balance, I think it has a tendency to feel like we have too much life inside of us. It’s not manic. It’s not hyper or frenzied. Nor is it bizarre or disturbing. It is, rather, an amplification of life. It is a feeling that you’ve got a great, big force inside of you that could absolutely tear you to pieces if you don’t learn how to work with it. This is especially true when we find ourselves in circumstances that require a curtailing of our thought processes, means of self-expression, or that otherwise make us feel “hemmed in.
You might, for example, be a fast thinker. In your world, ideas become outmoded quickly. Curiosity may breed impatience as it drives you incessantly toward the new, the interesting, the strange, and the deliciously complicated. Few things set your soul on fire like a gigantic, multi-faceted problem. The more moving parts it has, the more colorful it is, or the more of your senses it ignites at once, the more driven you are to immerse yourself in it. You may tend disproportionately toward the world of ideas. You could be a daydreamer. That’s what happens when you’re in situations you perceive as being dull. Linearity is the bane of your existence. Perhaps a thirst for adventure makes you restless. Or maybe, at times, you feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of your own passions.
Here are some strategies that may prove helpful for reigning yourself in and re-focusing your energies during those messy moments.
Focus on the utility of your ideas.
The primary criterion on which I judge the merit of all ideas is their utility. If an idea does not prove to be satisfactorily useful, I typically won’t entertain it further. Likewise, if I can distill tiny bits of wisdom from even the most frivolous-sounding of thoughts, then I will hold it in much higher regard than complex ideas that lack in practicability. If you’re entertaining many ideas at once, working on a complex project, or feel yourself getting swallowed up by the process of generating alternative solutions to a problem, slow down. Filter out the ideas that are most useful. While the rest might be thought-provoking, they may not be worthy of your time and consideration. You might be a creative genius, but the majority of your ideas really are just warm-up exercises.
But, what if beauty and expression are your aims–not utility? If you’re an artist, a poet, or a creative writer, I would say that your work is already useful. It is useful because we need it–as a reflection of your insights on the human condition and a means of self-recognition. In this case, you might map out a clear direction and stick to it. Don’t get lost in the mire. Set a goal, or otherwise find a specific purpose on which to concentrate your energies. Let that purpose be your guide.
Practice the art of restraint. (It’s sexy.)
A little restraint can go a long way. (See On the Art of Femininity for more of my thoughts on the topic.) There is something to be said for honing one’s capacity for self-control, especially in strenuous situations. Commanding ourselves is an art. We can’t possibly be and do everything we want all at once. Likewise, we wouldn’t want our creative projects to reflect an internal disorganization. Taking the time to understand what we need to do to control even the darkest of our impulses, I think, breeds a quiet self-assurance. And that can be quite sexy.
Let your “weird” out.
You know what I mean. Channel your inner 3-year-old. Go skipping through the woods. Get a mohawk. Dance naked in the rain. Whatever your “weird” is, give yourself permission to let it all hang out. At least for a little while. You and I both know it isn’t going anywhere; so, you’d might as well use it to your advantage. Get that out of your system, and move forward.
There is no substitute for action. Get out of your own head. If there is something you want to do, go do it (as long as it’s somewhat reasonable). Start the business. Write the haiku. Give that hunky guy at the gym your number. Take the skydiving lesson. Create the blog. Apply for your dream job. And focus anew.
If you feel harried by your own creative process, get up and move. Whether you’re walking, running, hiking, or swimming, moving your body is essential. Exercise can also be extremely meditative.
Whatever you choose to do, I think you’ll find the greatest reward is in the “doing.” Stagnation is a formidable enemy.