In this day and age, we are all far too busy for our own good. We spend all of our time working and doing things we feel we need to do that we don’t get to really take care of our own wants or needs as properly as we should.
There is no denying that being too bust in this world is a problem, but not all of us realize how much of a problem it truly is. I have been looking into this more and more and well, the things I’ve learned I believe will stick with me for years to come. One Big Think article I came across really broke this topic down and left a lot of things on my mind that I think need to be shared.
Within that article posted by Big Think as follows was written, and it’s something we should all allow to sink in properly:
Engaging creatively requires hitting the reset button, which means carving space in your day for lying around, meditating, or staring off into nothing. This is impossible when every free moment—at work, in line, at a red light—you’re reaching for your phone. Your brain’s attentional system becomes accustomed to constant stimulation; you grow antsy and irritable when you don’t have that input. You’re addicted to busyness.
And that’s dangerous for quality of life. As Seppälä points out many of the world’s greatest minds made important discoveries while not doing much at all. Nikola Tesla had an insight about rotating magnetic fields on a leisurely walk in Budapest; Albert Einstein liked to chill out and listen to Mozart on breaks from intense thinking sessions.
Paying homage to boredom—a valuable tool in the age of overload—journalist Michael Harris writes in The End of Absence that we start to value unimportant and fleeting sensations instead of what matters most. He prescribes less in the course of a normal day.
“Perhaps we now need to engineer scarcity in our communications, in our interactions, and in the things we consume. Otherwise, our lives become like a Morse code transmission that’s lacking breaks—a swarm of noise blanketing the valuable data beneath.”
In a period where we are all so much more connected and willing to come together, we’re allowing creativity to still be squashed, why is that? Why are we so willing to turn off our phones and relax in nature from time to time? Why is it so hard to be alone with ourselves?
Sure, some people might let their minds wander a little, but we need to really allow this on the proper scale from time to time. You can’t create the things this world truly needs if you’re not willing to put your creativity to work, and in order to do that, wandering is crucial. The greatest minds of our times could be wasting away, all the while those who call them their own never seeing their true potential, and that’s heartbreaking.
Quartz wrote as follows on this, and it really makes me wonder about our future:
The problem is that many of us can go entire days without putting our brains on idle. At work, we’re intensely analyzing problems, organizing data, writing—all activities that require focus. During downtime, we immerse ourselves in our phones while standing in line at the store or lose ourselves in Netflix after hours.
We need to find ways to give our brains a break. If our minds are constantly processing information, we never get a chance to let our thoughts roam and our imagination drift. Luckily, there are several research-backed changes you can make to boost your creativity.
First, emulate creative geniuses like Charles Dickens and J. R .R.Tolkien and make a long walk—without your phone—a part of your daily routine. A 2014 study (pdf), published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, found that people who went on daily walks scored higher on a test that measures creative thinking than people who did not, and that people who went on outdoor walks came up with more novel, imaginative analogies than people who walked on treadmills.
Second, get out of your comfort zone. Instead of intensely focusing exclusively on your field, take up a new skill or class. Travel to new places, and socialize with people outside your industry. Research shows that diversifying your experiences will broaden your thinking and help you come up with innovative solutions.
Third, make more time for fun and games. Stuart Brown points out in his book Play that humans are the only mammals who no longer play in adulthood. That’s a shame, because research by psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity, shows that play, by boosting positive mood, makes us feel both happier and more inventive. So spend some time playing fetch with your dog, join the kids for a game of Twister, or join an improv group or soccer club.
Lastly, alternate between doing focused work and activities that are less intellectually demanding. Adam Grant, Wharton School management professor and author of Give & Take, suggests that organizing your day this way can help give your brain some much-needed downtime—the better to make room for your next big idea.
Just how many people in this world right now are willing to take that to heart and actually do those things? Very few, I can tell you that and honestly, that’s the problem. We are stuck in the status quo to the point where we’re not willing to break free and be ourselves as we need to. Creativity is dying in this world and if nothing is done about it, one by one we will all fade into versions of ourselves we never thought we’d be.