Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

How Hacks Happen (In a Positive Way)

It used to surprise my husband. Now, he’s just grown to expect it: Rarely do I purchase something and use it as-is. I hack the heck out of things. I hack ’em until they’re exactly as I want—or need—them to be.

Honestly, I used to frustrate myself.

Why do I create more work for myself?

Why can’t I just be content?

Why do I always perceive things as lacking in some way shape or form?

But as I’ve grown older, this creative compulsion has become a happy—and helpful—habit. And it’s taught my children that there’s a work around to make nearly everything better, even if only personally so. They’ve seen me hack everything from tearing apart books to make loose-leaf versions to reworking simple buttons on a boombox so our son with intellectual disabilities could use it independently.

Traditionally speaking, though, hacking usually refers to exploring and exploiting computer systems and making them do something—usually something sinister—other than they were originally intended. But now days, hacking also refers to simply making modifications to something, changing things up to make it into or to do something you want.

Like most others, I usually start hacking for one of two reasons:


It’s the mother of invention, but it’s also a driving force behind the urge to hack. I’ll often have a picture or design in my head of exactly what I need. But no matter how hard I look, I can rarely find it. So, I’m left to hack my way there, purchasing something that sort of fits the bill, then making the necessary changes to get it exactly right.


Then, there are other times when I simply see something and nearly immediately have an idea on how to make it better or “plus it” as Walt Disney used to say. After all, why settle for the status quo when you can improve on it?

It wasn’t until recently, though, that I actually realized how all this hacking stuff happens. In one word: creativity.

Big or small, every time we alter or change something, hacking happens. The wheels of our imagination start churning on how to get whatever it is we’re looking at—or working on—even better. In other words, the creative process starts.

Every time you change up a recipe—BANG!—you’ve hacked it.

Every time you make a change to piece of clothing to make it more comfortable or stylish—VOILA!—you’ve hacked that, too.

Every time you find ways to finagle your schedule to get more work done or to squeeze in more down time—Yep, you guessed it!—you hacked that also.

The ability to hack is in our DNA as humans. We’re wired to find ways to make things work and to make them better. And the more open we are to not accepting things as they are, the more capable we are of seeing something even better: potential.

So, the next time you find yourself hitting what may very well feel like a brick wall, transform your perspective before trying to change the situation. Sure, you’re stuck in the moment, but use it. Exploit it! Utilize your creative license to dream up, design, and ultimately devise a way out. Stuff grows where crap goes, and so can our ideas. Our frustrations and failures truly can be the fertile soil where the most effective hacks happen.

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