I’m interested in how ideas come to people. Some of you have been kind enough to share with me how you get ideas for your writing. For me, the ideas for individual posts come from a variety of sources – something I read, something someone says, a memory, the kids, music, the dog, the creek by my cabin, most anywhere.
The ideas for the bigger concepts, however, seem to come to me in titles. For example, someone asked me recently why 10 steps, why not 12 or 5 or some other number. How did I know there were 10?
The 10 Steps originated from what seemed to be a random incident. I was walking through the living room one day about two years ago. My daughter was sitting on the couch with her boyfriend, who was slumped over looking so forlorn. Mia was gently patting his shoulder. She looked up as I passed by and said sympathetically, “Emanuel is looking for his happy place.”
I walked on by without comment, but in my head I thought, “Aren’t we all?” I realized then that after decades of not being a very happy person, I now lived in my happy place most of the time. As I pondered my own transformation, the title just came to me – 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There). I don’t really know why 10, and not 12 or 5. That’s just the way the title sprang forth.
I was immediately excited by the idea. I went to one of the ministers in my church and exclaimed, “I have a this title. I don’t know what the ten steps are yet, but it’s going to be great and I want to do something with it.” Without missing a beat, she asked me to lead the all church retreat. (You can see why I love my church!)
I agreed right away and then sat down with the title and started shaping content. And started this blog. In retrospect, there is nothing magic about the number 10. It could have been 12 or 5. Indeed, some of the steps overlap to some degree and could have been combined. But 10 is what came to me and 10 it has remained.
The following year, I was asked to lead a women’s retreat. Again, a title came to me before the content. Radical Joy. I ended up creating the program around four radical spiritual practices – radical acceptance, radical forgiveness, radical compassion, and radical hospitality – all of which lead to radical joy.
Lately, a new title has been dancing in my mind. The Joy Book Club. I have read so much about happiness and joy over the last several years. I realized that all this reading has saturated my thoughts and consciousness with a mindset of joy. Reading has become a practice all on its own. The 11th Step?
I loved Amy Tan’s book The Joy Luck Club. No doubt that was the inspiration for the new title that has come to me. I don’t know what to do with it yet. Like the others, there is a title before content, before a plan, before anything. But the title itself brings me joy. I like to say it out loud. It makes me smile.
So there it is. Maybe the act of writing it or posting it will spark some ideas, suggest some direction, or move it in some way towards manifesting in some form. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. I’m headed up to the cabin for the day, long enough for a walk in the snow and a nap by the fire.
May all your titles bring you joy
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There) is a program to help us develop habits to grow a joyful spirit. Many of us sabotage our happiness by habits that we might not even be aware of. Identifying and changing these habits can build a reservoir of well-being to enhance our happy times and sustain us during challenging times.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
The Joy Book Club
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I too am a title person, and even more so a quote person! Or words that stand out like your, radical joy, how bold a statement is that to turn our head around! Very bold and cool. I truly like your back story to how your 10 Steps title sprang forth...it is amazing how things just dance inside our head and wake us up! Great post again Galen! Enjoy the cabin and the journey to and from there!ReplyDelete
Karen, I like that "radical" word, too. I read several books about these radical spiritual practices, and that made me think of radical joy. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Inspiration is a true joy (sorry, couldn't resist) that comes when our minds are still and receptive. My faith makes it quite clear that joy is a state that isn't dependent on outside influences or emotions. Unlike happiness which comes from external triggers, joy is a state of being that comes from knowing God in a sincere way. It is the type of peace that we all seek.ReplyDelete
I'll be interested to see where the Joy Book Club takes you.
Bob, I like your distinction between happiness and joy. I tend to use them interchangeably, both in the sense of joy. But there is a happy "mood" that is fleeting and tied to external circumstances. Thanks for commenting.Delete
This post is full of joy - good to read! The idea sounds really promising :)ReplyDelete
Have a great day at the cabin.
Alexia, I did have a good day--lots of snow! Thanks for commenting.Delete
Lovely post Galen... thank you :-) I love your idea for the Joy Book Club and look forward to seeing things unfold. I think you are right that the title often comes before the content... it does for paintings sometimes as well. Enjoy the cabin...ReplyDelete
Jean, Nice to see you back. Have you started posting again? I'm going to pop over and see what's up on your blog. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Whatever the title, I know that when you get around to writing that book, it will be helpful, thought-provoking and beautifully written - just like your blog.ReplyDelete
Kara, I appreciate that vote of confidence. Thank you!Delete
I love titles, or words or phrases. And I love how your titles birthed retreats and this blog. How exciting!ReplyDelete
Alida, Thank you. Words are very powerful, aren't they? And fun. I appreciate your comment.Delete
Like you my ideas come from a variety of sources. Usually it is from the books I like to read. Generally I prefer books which depict great struggles such as war. It doesn't matter if it is from the medieval ages or if it is some futuristic science-fiction book. But the viewpoint I am looking for in such books is that of the commanders. I have always been fascinated by choices and how the leaders bear great burdens and responsibility. I prefer to read struggles against great odds because that I believe is where the most useful lessons can be found.
I just finished this science-fiction novel last night called Rynn's World. It is set in the 41st millenium, a grim and dark future where mankind is under constant attack on all sides by aliens and demons. What struck me most about the book is how the Chapter Master Pedro Kantor fought to protect his homeworld from an alien invasion after facing great tragedy. An errant missile destroyed his fortress and killed 3/4 of his men by accident. In an instant, he lost almost everything that he held dear. Despite the losses, he led what remained of his troops to defend the millions of civilians from the invading savages. If I had lost everything in the midst of a terrible war, I wonder if I would have had the strength to do what I needed to do or if I would have just given up?
So far I am pondering on my next article that may or may not come from this book. But somewhere down the line, I would probably want to write about the choices and heroism of Pedro Kantor. Will have to see how that turns out.
Thank you for sharing this lovely article!
Irving the Vizier
Irving, Like you, I marvel at tales of great courage and leadership. And like you, I am often inspired by what I read. I look forward to your writing about Pedro Kantor. Thanks for commenting.Delete
posted on behalf of Nancy Shields--ReplyDelete
I smile as I read this and thank you for sharing - I only use IE but hope one of these days I can again leave comments - I will keep trying - I'm not technical and not sure how to open in Firefox or Chrome -
Nancy, I hear you. If I didn't have kids who know about computers, I would be stuck. Thanks for finding another way to leave comments until IE works out the comment glitch.Delete
I liked your ideas and thoughts on happiness and joy and was fascinated that your inspirations come in titles!ReplyDelete
My inspirations seem to come when several ideas come together and I integrate them as a concept or an understanding and everything is clear - they I go about trying to share them and make sense of them.
I don't actually have numbers ahead of time when I write lists, rather they come as I type and edit - seeing that one or two things could be combined with a new subtitle, etc.
I have been dealing with our big storm, power outages and my server coming and going. Hard to do everything on a cell phone :)
But I feel like I am in a storm of thinking and ideas right now, w/o inspiration or integrations of ideas...I thought today would be an eye of the storm day for me not just the weather...but it was not...I am wrestling
I can honestly say when I am wrestling with a concept or fear or anything I find it very hard to be happy or joyful...I keep trying to do the opposite, rather I am even more serious and contemplative and my writing just comes to a halt...I make lists
Good post...I so enjoy your voice Thank you