Good News – You’re Not Worth It!

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Many creatives spend time bashing themselves. They’re angry they’re not doing more work. They’re enraged their writing isn’t better. They worry they’re not making enough at their supposedly “fun” calling.

No one can be crueler to a creative than themselves. Creatives know their weaknesses and have the imagination to find new ways to harangue themselves.

I’d lay odds you do the same thing to yourself.

Normally I’d advise compassion for oneself, in the vein of Pema Chödrön and similar philosophers. Much to my surprise, such self-care doesn’t fly with everyone. Some people invested in hating themselves as a twisted version of responsibility.

To those trapped in self-loathing creativity, let me suggest another tact.  You’re not worth hating.

Are you blessed with a great destiny that you’ve failed to reach? If you were failing your great mandated fate, maybe you’d be worth some anger. But you’re just a person, so why waste time hating on yourself?

Are you a person of fantastic talent unmatched in history, a skill that will define the future of all humanity? It’d be nice, but in reality, you’re someone trying to do the best they can and trying to grow. So if you fail now and then, it’s just being human, so why burn cycles despising yourself?

Are your works epics that the world has to experience lest it is forever impoverished? Probably not; you’re just another person trying to do what they like and contribute. Epics are declared such in hindsight. So since you’re not supposed to make The Greatest Work Ever, are you worth your own contempt?

Guess what?  You’re not worth your own hatred! You’re just a person, just like me, your friends, and so on. You’re not worth the time you take to be angry at yourself.

So let’s all go forward, we legion of screw-ups, weirdoes, and flawed humans. Let’s stop wasting time hating ourselves. If anything, wasting time hating ourselves is another one of our mistakes.

Maybe then we can find some compassion for ourselves when we’re not busy being disappointed in who we are.

Steven Savage

Surviving on Projects

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I regularly complain about how the Pandemic has affected my projects -writing, coding, etc. You, my readers, get a front-row seat to that more than you or I would like. But I must note that having projects kept me sane during the Pandemic.

The Pandemic disrupted everything in our lives. We could not do anything as we once did without the threat of infection. We watched many of our fellow citizens fail us, and we watch them continue to fail us. Nothing is the same, and humans like at least a little sameness.

But having projects – a book, a website, a podcast – gives one structure and stability. These at least act as an anchor for one’s sense of self, a place that reminds you of who you are. Writing, art, charity, and other deep passionate activities can be expressions of who you are. Projects help us survive by letting us actively be who we are.

Every time you write, or draw or phone bank, about something that matters, that’s you being you. Maintaining these projects throughout the chaos of the Pandemic keeps you from losing who you are.

I recently realized how important this was when I assessed the impact of the Pandemic on people. In discussions with friends and family, I saw how having any project kept people mentally healthy. People without projects often faired worse.

There are lessons here for us to learn about ourselves, but for others as well. As we try to move forward in the changing Pandemic, we can maintain our projects. We can also involve others who need a focus to join our projects – or start their own.

The Pandemic has a ways to go in the US, and farther to go in the world. Socializing and society is changing. Having something that matters is going to be critical for the well-being of many.

Steven Savage

Stringing It All Together

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

As I’ve often said, fun is important to us. It refreshes us, it helps us find ourselves, it connects us to others. But sometimes it’s hard to have fun, to find joy in the large. Where are the hours or days of joy that we want or need?

Well, first, human moods are always changing. I think rare is the time someone experiences joy near constantly, except for some transcendent experiences. But, still, there are times we need an extended period of being mostly-happy – and I’m sure a lot of us would like something like that right now.

I think the important thing is to string moments of joy together.

We an go looking for the Big Happy, the Giant Bliss and maybe we can’t have that. Or we shouldn’t. Or, as I will address later, that’s not a solid thing.

Instead, I’m finding as I age that happiness is when we can string together small moments together. An hour with a book, an evening with a friend, a thirty minute run in a video game. If we can’t have the Big Happy, we can have many small happies – manageable moments of fun and joy.

First, this is practical. In our busy days and trying times, we might not be able to get a week off or a free day. We can work in fun when possible.

Secondly, this makes fun resilient. When we can have many joyful moments, the loss of one or the other may not trouble us as much – we change a schedule or power through a challenge. When we have fun moments strung along our lives like beads in a necklace, we can overcome one missing bead.

In fact, I’d say that the small moments are the way we build a Big Happy. As we can find joy in small moments, they come together in larger ones. Perhaps that’s the best kind of fun – pieces adding up to a whole.

Third and finally, I find that these little moments of joy and fun make life more manageable. It’s one thing to look forward to an ill-defined week long vacation. To know you’re going to have a chocolate bar or play a game makes fun solid, manageable, and real. Tie enough of those moments together and you have something larger.

We can stack fun and joy together to build something bigger. It may be easier.

And these days, maybe the best thing we can do.

Steven Savage