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Last Updated: 12.06.23

Rick Rubin: How to Access Your Creativity

Huberman hosts Rick Rubin, a renowned music producer who has worked with artists like Run DMC, JayZ, Adele, Johnny Cash, and more. He authored “The Creative Act: A Way of Being” exploring the creative process, inspiration, emotions, and adopting new perspectives. We also discuss deadlines, distractions, and professional wrestling.

Key Takeaways

High level takeaways from the episode.

Note: Due to being more conversational in nature, we recommend listening to this episode to get the most out of it.

Creativity is about making choices and experimenting

  • Example: Tasting two dishes and deciding which one is better
  • Adjusting based on personal preference

Limiting choices can lead to better problem-​​solving and creativity

  • Example: Deciding to only use green and red in a painting
  • Infinite choices don’t necessarily lead to better compositions or works

Knowing and owning one’s feelings is crucial for artists

  • Demonstrating personal perspective and taste without compromising for commercial reasons

Relying on feedback from others can limit creativity and authenticity

  • Successful artists have a compulsion to do things their way and believe in their work

Accepting that we don’t know everything can open up new possibilities.

The work of art sits between the imagination and the physical world.

Everything the brain does is an abstraction, creating representations of the world around us

  • Our daily perception is filtered through these abstractions

Moments of wonder and mystery in the world

  • Example: Seeing a whale or a dramatic sunset evokes feelings of awe and delight
  • These experiences break us out of our trance and remind us of the vastness of the world

Fully dedicate yourself to a project during the time you’re working on it/​​ Total focus and no outside distractions. When not working on the project, disengage completely

  • Don’t bring materials with you or think about the project when you’re away from it
  • Engage in other projects or activities to keep your mind occupied

The subconscious may continue to work on a project even when you’re not actively thinking about it

  • Holding problems lightly and not stewing over them can help solve them more effectively

Emerging fields of psychology, like Byron Katie’s work, encourage considering the opposite of a statement

  • Considering the inverse can lead to new insights and understanding

Rick sees entertainment wrestling as a way to access energy state and mode of thinking where reality is blurry:

  • Archetypes in wrestling similar to Greek myths or the Bible
  • Maintains playfulness and the feeling of “anything is possible”
  • More like a ballet than a sporting event, with everyone working together for the best show

Different phases of work can be treated differently

  • Seed collecting phase: ongoing, no deadlines, wide open
  • Experimentation phase: setting the stage for something to happen, not dictating the action
  • Crafting phase: working with the material, trimming or combining with other elements
  • Completion/​​finishing phase: final edit, getting to the version to share with the world

Self-​​doubt exists in everyone and can serve a purpose

  • Can be a check on oneself, preventing arrogance and complacency
  • Can lead to questioning and pushing for better work
  • Balancing self-​​doubt and confidence is key to success

Engaging with unpredictable elements (e.g., ocean, music) can inspire creativity.

Be aware of the assumption that the way you work is the best way simply because it’s the way you’ve done it before

  • Advice from others is based on their experiences, not yours
  • Be open to different ways and methods that may work better

Creativity in music, comedy, and film production requires accessing the world and paying attention to clues

  • Strummer’s Law: “No input, no output”


We recommend using this distillation as a supplemental resource to the source material.

  • Rick Rubin: How to Access Your Creativity 

    Huberman Lab #107

    Huberman hosts Rick Rubin, a legendary music producer. We discuss creativity, inspiration, emotions, and overcoming distractions.

Full Notes

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