"Hot & Cold:" The Best Game to Master


Source: Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon  

The red “Sorry” player piece had been hidden somewhere in our grandmother’s living room. My heart would beat faster with anticipation and thrill every time my cousin Jennifer said, “You’re getting warmer. Ooh, warmer still. You’re burning up. You are on fire!” “You’re getting cooler,” had the opposite effect and I’d feel my mood slump a bit as I pivoted toward another area of the room.

Living an authentic life is like a giant game of “Hot & Cold,” albeit a wildly complex and multi-dimensional version. And while we are surrounded by well-meaning callers of the “hot” and the “cold,” honing our ability to honestly listen to our own intuition speaking is what will land us in the “hot” place wherein we feel like we’re heading in the right direction for us and we feel good about ourselves.

Getting good at Hot & Cold takes practice -- likely years. Okay, more likely decades. I was pretty crappy at it for a very long time. When you are not really sure what you want to do with your life, or when you don’t want to admit to yourself what you want to do with your life, Hot & Cold is the most challenging game to win.

During my freshman year in college, a good friend of mine was planning on majoring in geology or marine biology. I found him intriguing and intelligent, so I took a geology class and told my roommates that I was probably going to major in Geology. I signed up for Geology 101 that spring semester and was eager to attend the spring break trip to Key West to study sediments. I just knew the trip was going to inspire me and launch a lauded academic career taking on the most grounded layers of life. I showed up with my bags, stared at the white van with the faded Lehigh decal on the first day of spring break and discovered I was the sole female from the class that had signed up. There wasn’t even a female teaching assistant.

I learned a lot from that trip. I learned that riding in an Econoline van with nine freshman boys all the way from Bethlehem, PA to Key West, FL (and back) takes an excruciatingly long time. More importantly, I learned that no matter how intriguing or intelligent I found my friend, I couldn’t possibly be a Geology major because I didn’t find the material interesting enough for even the duration of the trip, much less for the rest of my career. Key West may have been warm and sunny, but Geology was ice cold for me.

Your ability to learn to trust your intuition, the part of you that knows when a decision aligns with your authentic self and trusts in choices made from love rather than fear, is a critical skill in creating a life that feels true and brings you joy. Relying on external affirmation of worth will always fall short.

Here’s a big secret that isn’t a secret. We are all enough, right where we are. There is a reason for every single, solitary experience and when you stop smothering yourself with the illusion that who you are sucks or that what you want to do isn’t worthy, that’s when your life will begin to turn around. You’ll get warmer. If you keep listening to your intuition, you’ll get warmer still. And pretty soon, your life will be on fire.  

Suggested Reading ( chock full of tips on mastering Hot & Cold):

Kleon, Austin. Steal like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative. New York: Workman Pub., 2012. Printand

Burnett, William and David J. Evans. Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-lived, Joyful Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. Print.        


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