Getting Prolific, Day 11: Embracing Intellectual Flexibility

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If you don’t have the time, desire or will to consume or experience something in its entirety, you don’t have to.

Embracing things wholeheartedly is not a prerequisite for enjoyment, fulfillment or learning. You can, as many addiction recovery programs state, take what you need and leave the rest.

Seinfeld once joked that he treated all religions, philosophies and spiritual practices in this way. Whatever the thing is, he says, you go in to get what you need. They’re just supermarkets. You walk in and get your supplies, then leave.

The question is, why haven’t more people embraced this kind of intellectual flexibility in their lives?

Simple, it’s cultural gravity. Since a very young age, we’ve been raised with this clean your plate mentality. It stems from the societal desire to not be wasteful and eat well.

Children are urged to be good little boys and girls and consume their food in its entirety. Finish up, there are starving people would love to eat that.

Believe it or not, there’s an entire field of study on this phenomenon. Psychologists call it consumption closure, a state characterized by perceiving a given eating occasion as finished or complete, on people’s desire to eat more.

The growing body of research calls it, the justifying by healthifying effect, which can lead overconsumption, disordered eating and other unhealthy behaviors.

No wonder people assume they have to embrace everything in its entirety to get the benefits. Everyone’s scared their mommy will scold them for not cleaning their plates.

The problem is, this mentality doesn’t allow for the flexibility to tailor things fit your needs and lifestyle. It lacks compassion and rejects the notion that people are different.

But the truth is, there’s no clean plate committee who’s going to hunt you down and audit your consumption. Intellectually speaking, you are free to eat what you like, and you don’t need to finish the food on your plate if you don’t want to. You’re not a toddler.

How are you honing this talent in your own life? Are you improving your skill of extricating the essence of any subject you study?

In my experience, the process of searching and dissecting things, taking what you want and leaving the rest, serves you well in every area of your life. When it’s rooted in a sense of curiosity, openness and delight, then you can actually learn more in less time with greater joy.

You can multiply your growth by exposing yourself to a broad range of source material.

Here’s a case study from my own business.

One of the reasons why I launched my software as a service product is because I had spent two decades building my own personal framework for creating a prolific life. And I essentially wanted to invent my own religion. One that would teach a revolutionary creative response to the mysteries that permeate life.

If that’s wrong, may god strike me down where I stand.

Remember, mommy is not going to scold you for not cleaning your plate.

There’s no rule that says you can’t take the best parts of everything and arrive at an understanding of reality based on your personal experience, engagement, and inquiry.

Doing this doesn’t make you less authentic or more ambivalent.

Just because you don’t embrace things wholeheartedly doesn’t mean you’re not using your whole heart.

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Author. Speaker. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. CEO/Founder of Pioneer of Personal Creativity Management (PCM). I also wear a nametag 24/7.