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How Comfort and Conformity Are Dream Killers - SPECIAL: Guest Post by John P. Weiss
Why changing your environment can improve your life
John P. Weiss
John P. Weiss is a fine artist, cartoonist, photographer, and author of "An Artful Life: Inspirational Stories and Essays for the Artist in Everyone" and "The Cartoon Art of John P. Weiss."
Over 48K readers follow John's weekly stories and essays about life lessons and the creative arts. John's whimsical cartoons and classic black and white photography often illustrate his stories and articles.
John is a fine artist whose limited palette oil paintings capture the serenity of nature. He blends both representational and abstract elements in his surreal landscapes.
A former police chief and 26-year law enforcement veteran, John retired early to pursue his creative life. Full bio here.
To get the latest creative work, just subscribe to John's Saturday Letter here:
I’ve been marveling at John’s creativity for a few years now. Even before Substack came along, I have been reading his “Saturday Letter”. His original artwork is remarkable. I think it is better than most “professional artists” living today. Here is a link to some of John’s paintings:
Here are some of John’s cartoons:
Here are some of John’s photos:
Now on to John’s newsletter.
How Comfort and Conformity Are Dream Killers
Why changing your environment can improve your life
It's hard for people to rise above their opinions of themselves.
This curse of self-limiting beliefs can often be traced back to childhood. Either an unsupportive parent or careless teacher did or said something devastating, and we carry the wound forward.
The injured little voice inside our head whispers, "Just do enough to get by. Don't rock the boat. Don't risk it."
What's sad is that our doubts are frequently far from the truth. But doubts are comfortable. Doubts give us an excuse to not try. Doubts are the status quo.
Ask yourself, "What if my doubts are not true?"
An indefensible self-mutilation of the soul
A few years ago I was sitting in a restaurant with a good friend, and he asked about my writing.
"I don't know," I told him, "I work hard on my stories and essays, but there doesn't seem to be much return on investment. It's a lot of work. New readers join my newsletter each week, but just as many unsubscribe every time I publish. I'm thinking about quitting and going back to painting."
My friend listened attentively as I whined about the capricious nature of social media algorithms and how online readers love clickbait titles and cat videos, not elegant essays about life lessons.
Basically, I was having myself a little pity party, and indulging in self-doubt about my writing.
“Self-pity is spiritual suicide. It is an indefensible self-mutilation of the soul.”-Anthon St. Maarten
My friend suggested that maybe I needed to make changes and break out of my comfort zone. This got me thinking that maybe my self-doubts weren't true. Maybe I had simply become too comfortable in my writing, and needed to change?
I analyzed my work closely and realized that I had fallen into a comfortable style and approach. I had been using copywriting skills and emulating a few successful online writers. As a result, my work was derivative and boring.
What I realized is that comfort and conformity are the enemy. They're dream killers because when we stay safe and copy others we deny our true potential.
So I changed things up in my writing. I started to focus on more elegant prose, and tried to connect with readers on a deeper level. After that, I had one of my best years of online writing.
Show me your friends, and I'll show you your future
We are all creatures of habit. This is a good thing if the habits are healthy and productive.
Unfortunately, our habits often reflect the path of least resistance. We do things subconsciously because they're comfortable and familiar. Like mindlessly clicking on the TV every night instead of exercising. Or following the same old formula in our writing or creative work.
Beyond comfort and conformity, our environment plays a huge role in our potential creative and personal success. This is because the environment is stronger than our will. It wins over time.
Stock your kitchen with unhealthy food, and that's what you'll be eating. Put a big screen TV in your house and that's what you'll be watching. And what's crazy is that we complain to friends about weight gain and never having the time to read.
Who we spend the majority of our time with also determines the course of our lives. Hang out with people who like to drink and party and soon that will become your lifestyle. Alternatively, hanging out with people who like to exercise and feed their minds will rub off on you, too.
“Show me your friends and I'll show you your future.”-Dan Pena
I'm not suggesting you dump your friends, but you should avoid any bad habits they might have. And perhaps try to broaden your circle to new friends whose good habits and success you might want to emulate.
If you want to follow your dreams and find success, avoid comfort and conformity. What's easy and familiar seldom gets you where you want to go.
Surround yourself with people who inspire you, and whose positive example will help fuel your dreams and success. Create a home and work environment that helps you make good decisions.
Do these things, and you can change the opinion you have of yourself. You can become the person you always dreamed of being.
And when you get there, be sure and take the time to inspire and help others who are still struggling. For this is how we not only change ourselves and others for the better but maybe even the world.
As usual, thanks to all the subscribers! If you have an interesting writer who might benefit from a guest post like this one, please touch base. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
🙏 Peace in Ukraine