getting back that loving feeling
January 30, 2011 2:29 PM   Subscribe

Years ago, I met a guy. He was brilliant and creative and successful, and thought I was great. And suddenly, I was. I have never been so productive and creative in my life; I walked around with boundless energy and accomplished huge things with tremendous confidence. I also lost about ten pounds in a few weeks. Eventually, of course, things changed; you'll be shocked to hear he was less than perfect and it all ended in tears. But now I think about how I felt right at first and wonder: clearly, it was in me to be that way. Can I recreate that within myself, without some outside person sparking it? I would love to leap out of bed in the mornings and rush to create and accomplish all sorts of things, but don't want it to be giving the credit to someone else--or have it come falling down when the rush of infatuation is over. Is there a way, or is this why people do drugs?
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (18 answers total) 78 users marked this as a favorite
Yes. You did it yourself the first time.
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:32 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

I think it's why people practice yoga. You have it in you, it's a matter of being reminded. :)
posted by meindee at 2:34 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's why people go snowboarding or biking. Total bliss at the end of the day/week makes you motivated, energetic, and joyful.
posted by salvia at 2:38 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

I am sort of this way, I can't go to bed without having made or worked on something. Typically I leap out of bed filled with self-loathing, but I'm ready to go about an hour after that. Some tips:

Drugs are not required, or necessary.

Remove unproductive distractions, for me this included cancelling my cable and blocking certain websites. After a while I unblocked them, but yeah.

Have a quiet place to work. But get out and do things. Sometimes I do my best work in a crowded coffee shop, other times it's at 1am.

Have a place to share the stuff you make. This could be as simple as a tumblr blog.

Know your tools: It's frustrating to have an idea but you're not able to do it because you can't realize it. Do some practice projects to get the feel for them before tackling the big one (or just dive in head first, if that's your thing)

Mostly, I attribute my creative output to being alone a lot. Most of my friends are busy, and I work night shifts, so I don't get to see many people often. Also: I'm done with school, and my evenings are taken up by drawing instead of math homework and essays.

But the short of it is: yes you can be creative, but you need the time and the space.
posted by hellojed at 2:39 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

You can create this feeling yourself. There is no woo-woo here; this is all, like, scientific or something. When I am in a creative and physical-fitness rut (I can tell because I'll realize that I just watched 4 hours of TV for the Nth straight night and my pants feel tight) I try meditation, exercise, and a creative regimen. Every morning, from 7:30 to 9:30, I write. I can get to somewhere near what you're describing, but it's only as good as my discipline, which crumbles sometimes when faced with the temptation of a warm bed.

You have to get some inertia going. Give it at least a week. Then the good stuff you're doing will begin feeding itself. And eventually you'll get distracted, get in another rut and have to start all over again, but yes, it can be done.

p.s. For me the key is finding a way to get out of bed early. Because once my day starts, all of my good intentions go straight out the window. I always fantasize about leaping out of bed at 5:00 and having all my feel-good stuff done by 8:30 or so. Usually doesn't happen. But I would find a way to start early, whatever is early for you.
posted by Buffaload at 2:39 PM on January 30, 2011 [5 favorites]

1. Yeah, this is why some people resort to drugs. Or at least have difficulty stopping, dependency issues aside.

2. You absolutely can recreate that spark in yourself, on your own. What was your ex bringing to the table that "allowed" you to be so great? Even if you can't pinpoint, it doesn't matter much. You have definitive proof that you have that spark within you. You've done it before for some period of time. I'm guessing the creative spark ended when you had that rough breakup. You presumably have moved on from that point, so there's no reason you can't rekindle that energy. Often times, the company of friends or loved ones can bring out the best in the person, make them see the traits they always had.

I used to be very uptight and critical of myself until I met a friend who, unbeknownst to her, changed the way I viewed myself and the world. It was just a matter of being around someone who had healthier traits-- she was more optimistic, didn't consider every obstacle the end of the world, etc. I unintentionally adopted those traits. We're not friends anymore, so I don't have that same push or motivation I used to have whenever I was in her presence, but there was still a take-home message for me. I'm still less serious.

What's preventing you from being that creative person when you wake up tomorrow morning? You can fake it until you make it. (Yes, everyone throws that line out there but it WORKS.) Is there a project you can start working on so you can see with your own eyes that you still possess those qualities? Your ex helped bring those qualities of yours to light. But YOU did the rest of the work. You don't need his supposed brilliance to be brilliant yourself.
posted by overyourhead at 2:54 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well, yes, there are chemical reasons you felt so great, and here's an article about that.

But everyone else here is right about how you can essentially love yourself enough and train yourself to be positive and confident enough in outlook to stay motivated and engaged. This is also self reinforcing once you get into it.
posted by bearwife at 2:59 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yes, you can. It's a matter of placing yourself into the right environment. I think the following is what gets humans into that space:

creative problem solving
being around other happy people

Item #1 is the only one that really emerges naturally in modern life - the regimented, repetitive days of modern life make #2 and #3 difficult to find or cultivate, and most people are exhausted and vaguely unhappy from overwork and understimulation, so it can be hard to find a group of friends to fulfill #4.

The other answers provided here have some good ideas for #2 to #4.
posted by MillMan at 3:03 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

What you described sounds a heck of a lot like hypomania. And yeah, it feels really good.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:29 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

This part of your post stuck out for me:'

"and thought I was great. "

Do YOU think you're great? Why? Why not?

And yes, it's why people take certain drugs.

I would want to know why your Exciting Relationship Life stopped after that person disappointed you, too. Are you in another relationship but it's not that exciting? Are you lonely? etc.

I pretty much disagree with the other posters here who say that feeling can be recreated via other means. We are "relational" beings and there's nothing like being in love. The feeling itself is only part of the sensation you loved: there is also the cognitive part -- you felt fantastic because he thought you were great. This is not giving him *credit* for your feelings. This is saying that you feel particularly, uniquely wonderful when someone whom you admire and are excited by loves you back. Of course you do! Who doesn't?

There is too much emphasis in our culture on "autonomy." There are certain aspects of life that you *cannot* reproduce yourself. It's not just about chemicals.
posted by DMelanogaster at 3:35 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

Agree with melanogaster: you absolutely can't recreate this yourself with or without drugs. Everyone *claims* to be able to create it through all those other means but the truth is that romantic love has a unique chemistry (though it may be comparable to parental love of a new child). Either way, without a profound relational connection to a new person in your life, it doesn't happen. And even for those who stay in love, the early experience is different from the later experience: it's the feeling evolution came up with to get us to say "this is my mate" and stick us together to reproduce and then rear the kids.

So, find a new partner or have/adopt a kid if you want this experience—sometimes you can get a bit of it in a new friendship, also. But it's fundamentally relational and you can't get that on your own.

Btw, shooting heroin and cocaine together comes close— but love is better and I obviously don't recommend starting a drug habit.
posted by Maias at 4:53 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

A psychiatrist I knew once said that a new relationship was the equivalent of six months of therapy! In other words, its exciting energy sparks breakthroughs that would take much longer otherwise.
posted by sdn at 7:29 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

MillMan said exactly what I was thinking. One of the easiest ways for me to be and stay creative is to make sure that I'm surrounded by other energetic, creative people. It doesn't matter if their discipline is the same as mine or not, just being around them will keep you pumped up and fuel your creative fire. It's kinda like tennis: when you play against someone who is above your level, your game rises and you'll find yourself making shots you never thought you were capable of... conversely, if you play against someone who isn't as good as you, you'll unconsciously find yourself making terrible shots and stupid mistakes that you usually would never make.

Drugs aren't necessary. Eliminate the dead-weight and emotional vampires in your life and your productivity and creativity will burst forth once again.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 7:35 PM on January 30, 2011 [10 favorites]

When I was courting my wife, we played a game we called "sexy week." The goal was to try to be the most attractive people we could be when out by ourselves. I don't know about her, but I was basically faking it. Chin up, shoulders back, smile. Be flirty. It really did wonders for my self-esteem, as odd as that sounds.
posted by Gilbert at 7:42 PM on January 30, 2011 [5 favorites]

Yeah. Gilbert's got it. Fake it 'til you make it.

You know what the difference is between that confident, outgoing, attractive, dynamic woman and the one who is anxious and self-conscious but pretends to be confident and outgoing?

Absolutely nothing.

You know you've got the capacity to be that person, so force yourself to do it (even though it may be uncomfortable) until you settle into it again.
posted by twirlypen at 8:06 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, it is absolutely possible. It is for this exact reason that I have turned to G_d.
posted by macinchik at 10:04 PM on January 30, 2011

The early stages of falling in love produces a rush of dopamine in your brain, which then causes all the symptoms and benefits you describe.

Drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, caffeine, and chocolate also raise dopamine levels, as does regular intense exercise.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:13 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Go rock climbing.

It's vertical yoga that shuts out all the noise from your brain. I swear, after I finish a big route outside I could punch the lights out of an elephant, best deep blue at chess and laugh at any of the emotionally wrenching stuff that usually nags at me.

The best part, since that feeling is tied to muscle memory when I clench my fists in frustration all the Zen goodness comes rushing back. Being tight and upset only helps me relax, it's weird.
Go climb a rock.
posted by JimmyJames at 5:54 PM on February 1, 2011

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