The Art of Positivity

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It’s so easy to get bogged down in this industry, especially in the dead of winter. The unknown, the competition, our self-doubt, etc. It can get a little overwhelming! So what do you do to combat negativity? In my last blog, I expressed the importance of just being. And YES. I completely believe this. But is there anything we can do to foster a positive outlook on life? Here are four thoughts I have . . .

  1. Create Your Own Content

Ever just feel bored, or even worse, as if you have no control over your own career? Part of that is because, well, you DON’T have control. The first step is sitting in that realization. But when you’re done sitting, then do something about it! Write a play. Start a blog. Produce a short film. “I’ve never even taken a single film class. There’s no way I could produce a short film.” We all have those thoughts, right? Then start small. Sometimes we are so afraid to create because a vision we have is so big. The trick is to start small and start with something we find enjoyable. If we are excited about the first step, we are more likely to reach toward the next step. Go to your nearest college that offers film classes and ask for a list of the required reading, then go out and buy a book. Don’t feel like starting there? Then find people that have produced content before and buy them a coffee to pick their brain. Make sure you’re listening to your gut along the way. Find something that makes your spirit happy.

There’s no way I would be writing this blog if I didn’t find it enjoyable. Fortunately, I love it. I love listening to podcasts about mental health, Los Angeles, acting, etc., and getting inspired for new posts. “Oh, that could make a great post,” I’ll think, and quickly stop what I’m doing to jot down a few notes in my phone so I don’t forget. I love going to a nearby coffee shop, taking out my computer, and writing. Does anyone get anything out of it? I hope so! But honestly, I’m not sure it matters much in the end because I love doing it. It keeps my soul fed between auditions, rehearsals, networking, and performances. I need it.

Creating content is like reading. If you think you don’t like reading, it’s only because you haven’t found the right genre for you at this point in your life. The same goes for creating. Don’t settle for a creative outlet that’s junk food for your soul. Keep on searching for that soul food you deserve. It’s out there, and it will help you keep a positive outlook on life.

  1. Note Your Accomplishments

This one takes practice, but it’s important. Take the time to pat yourself on the back. If you don’t feel you’ve accomplished anything recently, most likely, you’re wrong.

I keep a chalkboard in my room. The top half is a list of my goals, and the bottom half is a list of accomplishments: Callbacks, Check-Avails, and Bookings. Sometimes I will even write out a compliment I got here and there. These things matter!

I recently got a Check-Avail for an industrial, and I immediately wrote it on my board. I figured I’d either get to leave it there forever, or erase it and move it to a Booking. I didn’t end up booking this one, but the Check-Avail was still a pretty badass accomplishment. I didn’t book the role, but I sure as hell booked the room.

When I was a teacher, my department chair kept a “Smile File” on her computer. Any time she received a complimentary email about her teaching, she sent it straight to the file. On “off” days, she’d go through her file and be reminded of all her wonderful accomplishments. Genius.

We take the time to be kind to each other, so why not take the time to be kind to ourselves?

  1. Keep Learning

Classes are expensive but so important. It’s a known and accepted fact that professional musicians and athletes practice their craft daily, so why not actors? What makes us above education? Classes keep our bodies and mind active, and they’re a great way to stay connected to fellow actors. My suggestion is to not put all your eggs into one basket. Don’t marry yourself to one school or one teacher. In my experiences, teachers often believe their method is the end-all, be-all. It’s just not true. Take an On-Camera class at The Green Room, then check out Level 1 at Acting Studio Chicago. Do the same with iO and Second City. Find out what works for you. Don’t be a slactor. Be an actively educated actor. If you can’t afford a class right now, check out some sides for Showfax and put yourself on tape. Invite a friend over to help you with these sides.

  1. Take a Break

Make sure you break intentionally. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. Yearly. Scrolling through Facebook to avoid working on lines is not an intentional break, but taking 10 minutes during your lunch break to do so may be.

Meditate. Take a walk. Focus on your breathing for 5 minutes. Play Candy Crush (do people still do that?). Have a coffee date. Take a nap. Watch your favorite show. Call your mother (hi, mom!). Take a walk.

Go on a date. Have drinks with friends. See a movie. Sleep in on a Saturday. Take a yoga class. Make an attempt to do something special once a week you may not be able to afford every day but that still feeds your soul and is needed more than once a month.

Get a massage. Find a new restaurant. Go on a vacation. Can’t afford an overnight? Take a day trip to Lake Geneva or Starved Rock. Take a weekend trip with someone special to Milwaukee (the amount of alcohol from brewery tours you can consume in one weekend is outrageous.) It’s amazing what a little break can do. Taking intentional monthly or at least yearly breaks is essential for the creative spirit.

More Work does not always equal More Success.

Back in my teaching days, I was a much better educator in September than I was in May! Take intentional breaks not only because you want to, but because you need to.

As I’ve said before, your feelings are right because you’re feeling them. If you feel negative, you’re right to feel that way. But why not give yourself tools to naturally feel more positive? In the long run, your soul, body, social group, and career will all thank you.

Your turn! What are your thoughts on managing positivity? What am I missing on this list? Leave a comment here, tweet me @TheEricFeltes, or Facebook me!