Tag Archives: self help

Vincent’s extreme empathy to his end

My favorite painter is Vincent van Gogh. I speak to 6 different patterns of creativity in my recent book, which flow from our head, heart and gut intuition. We all have a dominant center of creativity, a supportive center and a 3rd center, which we use less confidently in our creativity. I believe Vincent’s brilliant pattern was: A “Dominant Feeler” (heart center) and this was supported by his rapid intuition (gut center), followed by his third center of “thinking” (head center). Vincent van Gogh is an exemplar of this pattern. I explain why in my book and include a short excerpt here.

Born in the Netherlands, he was a preacher’s son. He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a preacher himself. Vincent soon realized he was too empathetic to work with the poor immigrants he was ordained to serve. Instead, he became one of them (heart domination).

He did not begin painting until his late twenties, completing many of his best-known works during the last two years of his life. In approximately a decade, he produced more than 2,100 art works (heart/gut pattern). His swiftly painted impressionist work was notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty and bold color. He said, “As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed…”

Vincent lived his “extreme empathy” pattern out his entire life. I believe until his last dying breath. History dictated he committed suicide–but did he really?

New research indicates Vincent did not commit suicide in the end, but was likely shot on July 27, 1890 by a neighborhood bullyboy by accident. Researchers believe a sixteen-year-old boy named Rene Secretan, whose tormenting of van Gogh included buying him drinks, fired the fatal shot. The research questions whether the artist, who was known to have spent time in an insane asylum, could have gotten a gun. Police never found van Gogh’s painting gear or the gun at the wheat field (which was one mile from the lodge) where he said he shot himself. Van Gogh had also written he considered suicide “sinful and immoral.”

This was only four days after Vincent had written his beloved brother of his renewed and determined interest in painting. The new theory is Vincent tried to protect the merciless boy and cover up the shooting by saying, “Do not accuse anybody, it is I that wished to commit suicide” (Adeline Ravoux, 1956). Vincent’s doctor, Paul Gachet, confirmed he was in a good period and had improved psychologically in the very end. He grieved at his funeral and said admiringly, “an honest man and a great artist… who had only two aims, art and humanity.”

So close was Theo’s legendary relationship to his brother that he “fell gravely ill” almost immediately after his death and was dead some months after. His body is buried next to Vincent’s in Auvers.

Cover Picture

This theory contradicts old ones that Vincent went mad. As does Adeline Ravoux’s account of his last months, “He never drank alcohol. I insist on this point. The day of his suicide, he was not in the least intoxicated, as some claim. When I later learnt that he had been interned in an asylum for lunatics in the Midi, I was very surprised, as he always appeared calm and gentle in Auvers. He was well respected at our place. We called him familiarly ‘Monsieur Vincent.’”

Vincent died in the Ravoux’s second floor bedroom. Read Adeline Ravoux’s personal account of how Vincent died on the sad night of July 27, 1890. There is still no consensus on how Vincent died, as experts “cannot yet agree” with the new research conclusions about the painter’s death.

What if—van Gogh had developed or emphasized his “hidden” (or less used) rational center earlier in his creative life—or was able to get help for his mental health? We can only guess what the results would be. Why does he touch me so deeply? His confident command of color and commitment to painting the beauty he saw (in the moment) was genius; his magnificent paintings profoundly hit all three of my centers. He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. He said he did this by, “…a succession of little things that are brought together.” He ultimately transcended the negativity of his inner “head” critic. This mysterious, utterly humble, and wild man who roamed the fields of Provence makes me cry. He is a true hero whom I can always draw inspiration from.


Thank you for reading my post. I am a consultant living in the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves in my recent book and website, and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

Is Music Art?

A very strange instrument, “a marble melody,”
is currently captivating the internet. The artistic piece is called a “Wintergatan”–a musical instrument built using 2000 marbles!

It was built by Swedish musician named Martin Molin, 33, lead musician of Swedish band, Wintergarten. He created a wooden music box powered by marbles, yes marbles! He has accomplished this feat by employing pulleys, levers, and gears.

Molin turns a hand crank that moves 2,000 marbles around on tracks and through funnels (3000 parts!) The marbles then travel around and come in contact with other instruments like a kick drum, a bass guitar, marimba, cymbals, a vibraphone and bass. It can play ANY style of music.

Be prepared to be utterly delighted and inspired by these videos. 


The artist made this marvelous music-making machine in just 14 months. Find out how he did it in the short video below.


I ask you creatives’ to confirm, is music art? Please share your favorite quotes

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves in my recent book and at my website and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

Is Creativity Lodged in Only Half our Brain?

BCLOGOrevised3One thing science knows for sure is there is no such thing as pure left/right brain dichotomy. “Creativity does not involve a single brain region or single side of the brain.” The five-stage process (from preparation to verification) consists of many interacting brain processes (both conscious and unconscious) and emotions. Depending on the stage of the creative process, different brain regions are recruited to handle the task.

The emphasis on hemispheric dominance is a misapplied story. It shows how a grain of truth in science can get blown out of proportion into a pseudoscientific industry. You’ve heard this myth. It says the left hemisphere of the brain is strictly logical, deductive, mathematical, etc., while the right hemisphere is strictly artistic, visual, and imaginative. The idea stems at least partly from the classic studies of split-brain patients performed in the 1960s. It isn’t that simple. Google left brain/right brain and you’ll get 74 million results; an entire self-help industry grew out of applying a misconstrued understanding. It is another one of the many lingering myths about our brains.

So don’t get suckered into personality programs hawking “right brained” thinking to increase your creativity. A 2010 study published in Psychological Bulletin reviewed all the neuroscience research on creative thinking (included seventy-two experiments) and found no good evidence for the pop-culture idea of the right side of the brain being more involved in “creative thinking.” This was also true for the “divergent thinking” theory of creativity. Recent studies indicate that creativity results from the “dynamic interactions of distributed brain areas operating in large-scale networks.” This leads us back to the three centers of intelligence: doing, thinking, and feeling. Read more in my book.


Is Creativity Different from Innovation?

By my definition it is!

There is not a universally accepted definition of creativity. In fact, there are more than sixty different definitions in psychological literature. Is it really only problem-solving? Is it the same as innovation? Creativity is indeed mysterious. It is no wonder there is not one accepted definition. My definition is simply anything that is new and useful. By “useful” I mean a person’s creative act might only be useful to them at the time. It does not have to be useful from a commercial standpoint, which distinguishes it from innovation.

02 Genetic's FlowchartFor example, the scientist and monk Gregor J. Mendel studied peas in the 1800s. He tested about 29,000 pea plants, which led him to make two generalizations or “laws” about inheritance. It was new creative work, but nobody paid much attention to it at the time. It was only useful to Mendel. His discoveries immensely pleased himself.

The significance of Mendel’s work was not recognized until the turn of the 20th century. The independent rediscovery of his “pea laws” formed the foundation of the modern science of Genetics. Who would have guessed this quiet friar growing peas at a monastery would now be revered as “the father of modern Genetics”?1

The mysterious process of creativity is at the front-end of innovation. This is likely why the two get lumped together so often. However, one can be creative without it leading to innovative success. Here is how I distinguish between the two terms:

Creativity: the capacity within individuals to develop new ideas for the purpose of solving problems and exploring/exploiting opportunities.

Innovation: the application of creativity to give rise to a new product, service or process delivering something new and better to the world.

Please note by my definition—creativity is not a team sport. It is an individual pursuit. Innovation more often involves many people to make a creative idea useful to the world. What do you think about these definitions? Do you think the two are different?

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