Are You A Trickster or a Martyr?

After a brief hiatus, I am continuing Elizabeth Gilbert’s online course, What is Creative Living? The third portion of the course involves identifying the ways in which we serve our creative life, and the ways in which we needlessly sacrifice joy.

Humans have been making art for 30,000 years, and you can bet that the earliest artists did not make a fetish out of suffering. The path of creativity involves a playful collaboration with the artistic mysteries of inspiration–a path on which you are neither a slave to your muse, nor its master. When you embrace your true creative nature, you choose to focus on the process rather than the outcome.

Creative Intention

People will seldom listen to what you say, but they can’t help being affected by who you are. If your intention is to give but you’re serving your own ego, people will know it and feel the shame of being burdensome. However, when you offer your gifts merely for the sake of helping others, those served will feel lighter when they leave the interaction. These are the types of iterations we should all strive for. Choose the causes and interactions that will ignite your heart, spark selflessness, and inspire others to do the same.

It is importance to both foster and safeguard your unique sources of abundance, joy, engagement, and creativity. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s “What is Creative Living?” course, she reminds us to regain out fertility of joy, so that whoever we encounter and whatever it is we’re doing, we’re experiencing and sharing joy.

Who Is The Martyr?

The martyr is a character who sacrifices something of great value–and especially life itself–for the sake of principle. Many of us make major sacrifices on a daily basis, whether staying late at the office rather than attending happy hour with friends or neglecting hobbies to keep the house looking Pinterest-worthy. The sacrifices typically extend much further than socializing, practicing your art, or staying in shape. What we are really giving up is joy.

Who Is The Trickster?

Opposite to the martyr is the trickster, who exhibits a great degree of intellect and uses its cleverness to play tricks or otherwise disobey normal rules and conventional behavior. The trickster sees through the delusions of seriousness and exposes the humor underneath all of our drama. He realizes that needless sacrifice and suffering benefit no one.

Think about how you could bring more lightness, playfulness, and joy into your work. Creativity helps us to look at the world sideways, backwards, and upside down. Adopting the mindset of the trickster helps us realize that all of the world is temporary, shifting, and filled with nonsense. Life is fair game for all kinds of carefree delights–we only need to make the decision to snatch them up.


Note all of the ways you might be behaving like a martyr–sacrificing yourself, your art, your career, or others in your life.

Then, think of ways that your could instead become more like the trickster, bringing more lightness, playfulness, and joy to your work.




Always say yes to big projects that require overtime, even when it drains me and leaves me without time to pursue my creative hobbies Set better limits about when I am available to work overtime and make sure that I carve out time to pursue my hobbies even when I’m in the middle of a big project
I show up each day to do work that is not fulfilling and does not fuel my creative fire Pursue a new career, but in the meantime fill my free time with fulfilling projects, such as mentoring underprivileged children through my favorite charity, reading books, or gardening

Health & Well-being

Forgoing important doctor’s appointments because I feel obligated to be at work, and feeling guilty when I do miss an hour or two Leave my current job and select a company that believes in work-life balances and allows employees to exercise PTO and take care of personal issues, such as doctor and home repair appointments
Going four years without a vacation and feeling guilty for occasionally taking a much-needed 3-day weekend Leave my current job and select a company that believes in work-life balances and allows employees to take vacations without feeling guilty
Ignore my body and push myself beyond my limits, to where I think I *should* be, rather than where I am, ultimately exacerbating the existing issues Accept where I am and celebrate the good things. When I need help walking, I can be grateful that I have all my limbs. When I collapse within 1 minute of working out, I can joyfully anticipate the day I’ll be able to run, life, and stretch again.


Listen to friends complain when they are not offering a solution Be confrontational, but in a joking manner, asking them what they’re going to do about it or suggesting an easily applicable solution
Offering to help a friend when I don’t have the energy to take care of myself Be honest and transparent, informing the friend that I’m not feeling well and that, at the moment, I need to focus on taking care of myself; offer suggestions on what they could do to take care of themselves
Isolating myself because I don’t want to burden my love ones with my health issues, and feeling guilt when I anyone for help Make light of the situation with self-depreciating humor to acknowledge that I’m aware of what’s being asked and grateful for help; initiate contact; be transparent about my capabilities and make plans accordingly


I’m currently only awake 8-12 hours per day, and I spend all wakeful hours working or commuting to work, thus sacrificing any opportunity for creativity Prioritize creativity on the weekends, carving out several hours to focus on my preferred creative project, whether writing, sewing, or sketching
I won’t allow myself to consider my creative hobbies as eventual sources of income Expand my freelance writing business and explore other ways I could more deeply explore my hobbies, remaining open to the possibility that I may create something new, unique, and desirable to others


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