Creative Path: Saying No, Trusting Your Intuition, Index Cards, Integrity Checks | Elizabeth Gilbert on The Tim Ferriss Show

Check out The Tim Ferriss Show Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • An important lessons Elizabeth learned from her best friend Rayya: The truth has legs
    • “It’s the only thing that will be left standing in the end” – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • “You can’t be good at grief…it’s not something to be mastered. It’s something to be survived.”Elizabeth Gilbert
    • Grief is like a wave, you have to let it come over you. If you resist, it will only hurt you more.
  • Elizabeth uses a notecard system to help her write her books
    • She writes down one lesson on each notecard, what book it came from, and places it with notecards that relate to that topic
    • “All of the preparation that I do is to help myself during the hard part which is the actual creating a novel and I want to give myself all the help I can” Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Out of all of her research and notecards, only about 20% of it makes it into the book
    • “You don’t know what you’re gonna need, you want to kind of over prepare” Elizabeth Gilbert
  • How to do an Integrity Cleanse: Set an alarm to go off every 30 minutes and you ask yourself if you’re lying
    • If find yourself lying to yourself, make a correction
      • “No more polite social lies, nothing” – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Elizabeth treats her email inbox like your home, if a stranger enters without asking, she’ll delete the email immediately
    • “Get out of my house, you’re not supposed to be here” – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Elizabeth’s go-to message for saying no in a polite way:
    • “Thank you so much, I’m really honored that you invited me to this but I’m not going to be able to do this at this time” – Elizabeth Gilbert
      • When you say no to something, don’t give a reason. That way people can’t manipulate you into saying yes.
        • “If you provide really specific reasons for why you can’t do it and you elaborate, you’ve just created a potential negotiation” – Tim Ferriss
  • The mind is brand new compared to the body. The body can tell what is right or wrong often long before the brain can:
    • “If I look back at…the biggest business disasters or partnerships, I knew on day one that it was a bad idea or there was something I felt that indicated discomfort” – Tim Ferriss
    • “I knew the night before my wedding that this was a mistake” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Intro

Books Mentioned

Lessons From Elizabeth’s Best Friend

  • Elizabeth calls her friend, Rayya Elias the love of her life
    • “She was the strongest and most extraordinary person I ever met” – Elizabeth Gilbert
      • Unfortunately, Rayya was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was given 6 months to live
  • An important lessons Elizabeth learned from Rayya: The truth has legs
    • “It’s the only thing that will be left standing in the end” – Elizabeth Gilbert
      • And since the truth is the only thing that will be left in the end, it’s best to be truthful from the start
  • You can plan all you want, but life will never completely go as planned
    • Elizabeth planned for Rayya’s death for months but when it happened, it was still incredibly hard to deal with  
      • “You can’t be good at grief…it’s not something to be mastered. It’s something to be survived.”Elizabeth Gilbert
        • Grief is like a wave, you have to let it come over you. If you resist, it will only hurt you more.
  • Grief is often followed by rage
    • Elizabeth was angry at Rayya, God, her friends, and herself
      • But understand anger is part of the healing process
        • “I need this anger to go so that I can grieve” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Decision To Become A Writer

  • Elizabeth says that all of the benefits people say they get from meditating, she gets them from writing
    • When she writes, her mind goes quiet and she loses track of time
      • “It really was my place of stillness…I just knew it felt good” – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Elizabeth believes creativity is a natural and needed state for humans, but too many people look for dopamine rushes such as sex, food, alcohol, or shopping
    • However, all of those quick fixes come with a high price tag, either literally or figuratively
      • Fortunately, writing is free for all to do

Discussing Great Art

  • Great art is both surprising and inevitable
  • Elizabeth loves the poems East Coker by T.S. Eliot 
    • She gives it to anyone experiencing grief 
  • Elizabeth is currently reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  • Tim is currently reading Little, Big by John Crowley and is amazed by the author’s amazing prose
  • There are 2 things in this world that are infinite: the universe and human imagination
    • “People keep inventing new worlds and new stories, it’s unbelievable” – Elizabeth Gilbert
      • “It’s a really interesting world where we have not yet met the limits of consciousness, the limits of creativity, and the limits of invention”
  • Elizabeth and Tim are big fans of the book Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
    • “The way that Marcus Aurelius speaks to himself and his journal feels like it could have been written yesterday. He is struggling through the same eternal questions that all of us are struggling through.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth’s Writing Process

  • Elizabeth uses a notecard system to help her write her books
    • She writes down one lesson on each notecard, what book it came from, and places it with notecards that relate to that topic
      • It took 3-4 years of research for Elizabeth to write her newest book City of Girls: A Novel
        • For that book, she had notecards on fashion, sexual culture, and how people talked during the 1940s
  • Having a notecard system makes it easier to get over writer’s block
    • Whenever Elizabeth creates a new character, she simply has to pull out the note cards that match that character’s background
      • “All of the preparation that I do is to help myself during the hard part which is the actual creating a novel and I want to give myself all the help I can” Elizabeth Gilbert
        • Out of all the research and notecards that Elizabeth takes, only about 20% of it makes it into the book
          • “You don’t know what you’re gonna need, you want to kind of over prepare”

How To Handle Fear

  • If you’re afraid of something, write it down on paper
    • “Let your fears speak” Elizabeth Gilbert
      • Listen to your fear, acknowledge it, and then ask your fear to step aside to let wisdom in
        • “Fear if you would just step aside for a moment, I’m now inviting wisdom into the room”

Lessons From A Life Coach

  • Martha Beck was Oprah Winfrey’s life coach
  • After reading Martha’s book Diana, Herself: An Allegory of Awakening, Elizabeth felt she needed to reach out to the author and tell her how great her books was
    • From Martha, Elizabeth learned to pay attention and listen to her intuition
      • When something doesn’t feel right, Elizabeth says she starts to feel pain between her navel and her sternum
        • The mind is brand new compared to the body. The body can tell what is right or wrong often long before the brain can.
          • “If I look back at…the biggest business disasters or partnerships, I knew on day one that it was a bad idea or there was something I felt that indicated discomfort”Tim Ferriss
          • “I knew the night before my wedding that this was a mistake” – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Martha taught Elizabeth how to do an Integrity Cleanse: You set an alarm to go off every 30 minutes and you ask yourself if you’re lying
    • If find yourself lying to yourself, make a correction
      • “No more polite social lies, nothing” – Elizabeth Gilbert
        • You may lose a lot of friends, but you’ll starting living life with a lot more integrity and truth
          • “The closer the relationship, the harder it is”

Email Inbox = Your Home

  • Elizabeth treats her email inbox like your home, if a stranger enters without asking, she’ll delete the email immediately
    • “Get out of my house, you’re not supposed to be here” Elizabeth Gilbert
      • You don’t owe them a polite response, just get them out of your house
        • If you’re going to contact her, she recommends going through the proper channels
  • Elizabeth’s go-to message for saying no in a polite way:
    • “Thank you so much, I’m really honored that you invited me to this but I’m not going to be able to do this at this time” – Elizabeth Gilbert
      • When you say no to something, don’t give a reason. That way people can’t manipulate you into saying yes.
        • “If you provide really specific reasons for why you can’t do it and you elaborate, you’ve just created a potential negotiation” – Tim Ferriss

Additional Notes

  • Life is hard and dark, humor helps survive the tough times
    • “I think that humor is quite literally grace, it’s pieces of grace that are shot through the nightmare” – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Life tip: Instead of using the word traumatic to describe an event, use the word interesting
  • Elizabeth calls The School for The Work by Byron Katie, “the most important thing I’ve ever done for myself” 
  • There’s a difference between having a life-changing spiritual journey and getting high with friends
    • “Are you using this for transformation or are you using this for escape” – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Elizabeth loves Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way and her 12-week long course
  • Elizabeth also enjoyed Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • Mercy starts by extending an olive branch to yourself
    • The hardest person to show mercy to is yourself; once you can forgive yourself, you can forgive others
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Notes By Alex Wiec

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