Harnessing Anxiety for Creative Success: Greene

Robert Greene delved into the concept of “alive” thinking, the role of anxiety in the creative process, and the importance of pushing through discomfort to achieve great results.

Alive Thinking, Anxiety, and Creativity

Greene emphasized the significance of digesting ideas and making them one’s own, rather than simply mimicking the thoughts of others.

He explained that an “alive” idea is one that enters the brain from an external source, is absorbed, and then transformed through a process of reflection, refinement, and revision.

According to Greene, anxiety is the primary obstacle that prevents people from engaging in this process of “alive” thinking.

He described anxiety as a signal that one doesn’t understand something or can’t resolve a problem. Insecure individuals tend to latch onto the first available answer to alleviate their anxiety, rather than developing the ability to think deeply and explore alternatives.

Greene stressed that the ability to manage anxiety and resist instant gratification is a hallmark of creative individuals who are capable of inventing something new, as opposed to those who merely recycle old and dead ideas.

He acknowledged that facing a blank page or an unwritten book can be incredibly challenging and anxiety-provoking for creative people, but it is through turning that anxiety into something creative and productive that masterpieces are born.

When asked about his own writing process, Greene candidly shared that it is “95% pain and maybe two and a half percent ecstasy.”

He described the initial stages of writing as embarrassingly bad, but emphasized the importance of pushing through the discomfort and using anxiety as a driving force to continually improve and refine his work.

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