March 8

The Power of Curation: How Intentionality Can Lead to a Better Life

In his book The Creative Act: A Way of Being, Rick Rubin explains the Power of Curation:

If you choose to read classic literature every day for a year rather than the news, by the end of that time period, you will have a more honed sensitivity for recognizing greatness in the books rather than in the media. This applies to every choice we make.
Since there’s endless data and we have a limited bandwidth, curate what you allow. Even if your goal is to make fast food, it will likely taste better if you have experienced the best fresh food available to you during the process.
Level up your taste.

The power of curation

The word “curate” comes from the Latin “cura” or “curatus,” which means “to care for,” which is what professional curators, such as those in museums do: care for collections. In recent years, however, the word curate has become somewhat ubiquitous and is used in a much broader context to describe the act of “choice-making.”

Social media companies use algorithms to supposedly curate our social media feeds based on our preferences, which, if we’re being honest, feels rather like manipulation and a trap we often fall right into. But there is a silver lining here.

Knowing how susceptible we are to manipulation, shouldn’t we use the same techniques and the power of curation to nudge ourselves into doing things that will eventually improve and enrich our lives?

To curate your life is to embrace the power of choice. Choose joy over chaos, love over indifference and authenticity over conformity. Your curation becomes your legacy. Brendon Burchard

Why bother to curate?

Your life is your personal collection of moments. Choose each one with care, for they are the strokes that paint the canvas of your existence. Louise Hay

Psychologists Sheena Iyengar (Columbia) and Mark Lepper (Stanford) proved in their research study that shoppers were ten times more likely to buy jam from a store with six varieties of jam on display than 24 varieties. Barry Schwartz, the author of the hugely popular 2004 book The Paradox of Choice, refers to this phenomenon as the “tyranny of choice.”

Schwartz contends that by keeping all options open, we’re simply setting ourselves up for mediocrity and, in the process, using up our most valuable and nonrenewable resource—time, a luxury in itself, because as Carl Richards once said:

The option to think about how to spend your time is a luxury many people can’t afford. All their time is already spent. For some, time is allocated, from birth through the rest of their lives, to work and survival.

Agreed. We all like to have the freedom of choice, but too much choice can be overwhelming. How often have you scrolled through 318 different streaming options to find a good movie to watch but then gave up the pursuit before settling on a series of cat videos on YouTube?

The solution to the tyranny of choices is to shift our paradigm and add meaning to our lives through the power of curation.

How to curate?

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. J.K. Rowling

How we spend our hours is often how we spend our days, and how we spend our days, in turn, is how we spend our lives.

The power of curation is that it makes us live intentionally. By consciously choosing what to spend time on and what to ignore, we can, as Rick Rubin says, level up our game and, in the process, lead more meaningful and satisfying lives.

Here are some ways to get started with the process of curation.

Conduct a life audit

The first step is to be aware of how we spend our hours. By evaluating our current lifestyles, relationships, activities, and commitments, we should see where we are aligned with our values and where we aren’t.

Prioritize

The next step is to prioritize. Most of us want to do too many things, but quantity often comes in the way of quality. To curate effectively, we first need to be honest and transparent with ourselves about what we want out of life.

Start pruning

What we exclude from our lives is almost as important, if not more important, than what we choose to include.

Go on a decluttering spree to create a more focused and organized environment. Streamline your commitments by eliminating or delegating tasks that don’t align with your priorities.

Most importantly, get comfortable saying “no” more often to people, activities, and commitments. The power of curation is in setting boundaries that protect your time, energy, and focus—by no means easy tasks—and the benefits are undoubtedly worth the sacrifices.

Consume mindfully

You are what you read, eat, watch, and tweet.

Be mindful of what you consume—media, information, or material possessions. As Rick Rubin says, choosing the time to read great literature instead of watching the 24-hour news cycle will fine-tune our sensitivities to recognize greatness and, in the process, inspire us to rise above the mundane.

Finally

The choices we face are simple: if we don’t actively curate our lives, we’ll end up living lives that are curated for us.

Calibrating your internal meter for greatness involves developing a strong sense of self-awareness, setting high standards for yourself, consistently pursuing personal growth and excellence, and saying no to many things, especially those with high levels of instant gratification.

Life's beauty lies not in its randomness but in the meticulous curation of moments, decisions, and relationships that lead to a profoundly meaningful existence.


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