Creativity: Maybe we should all just relax a little

While trying to catch up on my magazine reading, I came across Daydream your way to creativity, by Richard Fisher (New Scientist 16Jun 2012, issue 2869)…another article pacing the well-trodden trail of creativity, which is a hot topic in neuroscience and psychology these days, and the subject of Jonah Lehrer’s new bestseller Imagine. Scientists are currently trying to delve into the question: what makes some people more creative than others? The answer that most of them are settling upon: creative people are able to get insight by NOT concentrating…the more a person concentrates, the less capable that person is of making creative leaps. In fact, people with ADHD perform better at the “unusual uses task,” in which people spend a given amount of time listing creative uses for a common object. Drunk people, who have poor concentration, are better able to solve puzzles that require creativity than sober people. People who are in a relaxed brain wave state are also more likely to solve creative problems

Maybe as that important deadline looms, it’s better (for OH so many reasons) to relax a little instead of focusing continuously on our projects. Intuitively, I’ve always known this. When I want to write, or postulate scientific theories, I almost always lie down or have a nice warm soak in the tub if I’m at home. If I’m at work, I either pace while mumbling to myself or I lean back and stare blankly at a wall until inspiration hits. This works wonders for me (even if people at work often give me sideways glances, so I feel the need to hide). I do my most creative thinking when I’m letting my mind explore ideas on an unfocused road. I know many people who drink a beer or two whenever they’re writing. Perhaps there’s some merit in that. 🙂 This article cements my mantra “rest and sleep is what I need.” I think the world would be happier, more creative, and more productive place if people balanced work life with relaxation. Creativity is important for most careers that I can think of. So why does everyone work work work non-stop? Does it really get them where they want to go? One of my biggest pet peeves is overworking physicians (especially residents). If residents were able to come in to work well rested, perhaps that out-of-the-box diagnosis that had been eluding them will suddenly pop into place. People’s lives are at stake! Why do we overwork our doctors to the point of losing productivity???

Ok, that was an aside–it’s not at all where I planned on going with this blog, but I’ll let my creative mind take me where it wants instead of following a formal outline today. 🙂 I am VERY much looking forward to reading Imagine and to seeing many more studies on creativity in the months to come. 

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