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What Charlie Chaplin Taught Me About Creativity

What Charlie Chaplin Taught Me About Creativity

Charlie Chaplin’s brand of creativity is stunning. His career began when he was only 14.  His career lasted for well over seven decades. He became beloved in American theaters for his portrayal of “The Little Tramp.” Chaplin was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1971. Of his award the Academy noted, “the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century”. He was given an unprecedented 12 minute standing ovation. Sir Charles “Charlie” Spencer Chaplin died of a stroke, at the age of 88 in his adopted home in Switzerland on December 25, 1977.

Laughter

A day without laughter is a day wasted. -Chaplin

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    Chaplin built his career around making people laugh. To him it was a serious business, indeed. Making boots out of a pair of loaves with forks for legs, is only a scratch on the surface. He made millions laugh with almost all of his work. My lesson learned is to not take myself so seriously.

    Carry On

    Nothing is permanent in this wicked world not even our troubles~Chaplin

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      Chaplin certainly had his fair share of difficulties. One such problem was in the 1940’s he was accused of impregnating Ms. Joan Barry. Under J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI got involved accusing Chaplin of violating federal laws. The FBI involvement would later lead to banning Chaplin from the United States. My lesson learned is to keep going despite indifference, and even when I feel discouraged with my work.

      Stand Up For What You Believe In

      Man as an individual is a genius. But men in the mass form the headless monster, a great brutish idiot that goes where prodded~Chaplin

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        The Great Dictator was a 1940’s film that mocked Hitler and his ‘glorious’ Third Reich. It was in this film that fans first heard Chaplin speak. While the movie was commercially successful, it garnered a great deal of negative attention.This was due largely to the fact that Chaplin used six minutes in the film to express his political views. My lesson learned is to be passionate about my work, despite criticism.

        Don’t Give Up

        Despair is a narcotic. It lulls the mind to indifference.~Chaplin

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          From his famous portrayal as the “Little Tramp” to his controversial political views; Chaplin’s entire career could be defined by the words to never give up. My lesson learned is to have the same dedication in my creative career.

          Work With What You’ve Got

          All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.~Chaplin

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            Chaplin

            managed to be hilarious in the simplest of ways. He could make millions laugh at almost any predicament, he as the tramp found himself in. The chase sequences are nothing short of brilliant and funny.  My lesson learned is to use the skills and talents I already have in my creative career.

            Tell Your Truth

            I went into the business for the money, and the art grew out of it. If people are disillusioned by that remark, I can’t help it. It’s the truth.~Chaplin

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              Charlie Chaplin

              could be, if nothing else, brutally honest. His aim was to make money and that is exactly what he did with his art. However, no one can say or even intimate that Chaplin did not work hard for his fame and fortune. He continued to work on films up to the age of 87, about a year before his death. My lesson learned here is that, creativity can lead to money, but it doesn’t always.

              Know What You Want

              I don’t believe that the public knows what it wants; this is the conclusion that I have drawn from my career.~Chaplin

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                In being a creative mastermind, Chaplin did not so much live a charmed existence, in so much as he created the very world he wanted to inhabit. Charlie Chaplin did not only invite criticism about his work, but about his personal life as well. He was married four times and often to women who were half his age. A behavior that was scandalous to say the least especially in the budding of Hollywood, in the early twentieth century.  The lesson for me here is to consider what I want from my creative work.

                Know Your Passion

                What do you want a meaning for? Life is a desire, not a meaning.~Chaplin

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                  Of all the work that Chaplin did, perhaps his work with Jackie Coogan, in The Kid is one of his most memorable works. It combines drama and comedy into a spell-binding account between an orphaned child and Chaplin’s ‘Tramp‘. To me this  means to ‘do what you love’, to your fullest ability.

                  Give Your All

                  I had no idea of the character. But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the make-up made me feel the person he was. I began to know him, and by the time I walked onto the stage he was fully born.~Chaplin

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                    In every performance, whether writer, director, producer, and/or the star of the show, Chaplin gave his all to his work. Simply nothing less would do. To me the lesson learned here is that creativity must be a part of who you are as a person.

                    Know Your Art

                    I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician~Chaplin

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                      If nothing else, arrogant perhaps, Charlie Chaplin knew his art very well. For 75 years, Chaplin gave his all to every aspect of the film-making business. To me this means to know my art as well as Sir Chaplin did his own.

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                      Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                      What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                      Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                      Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                      According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                      Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                      Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                      Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                      The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                      Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                      So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                      Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                      One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                      Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                      Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                      The Neurology of Ownership

                      Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                      In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                      But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                      This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                      Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                      The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                      So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                      On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                      It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                      On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                      But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                      More About Goals Setting

                      Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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