Humans are pesky things. Sometimes we tell people what we think they want to hear. Sometimes we exaggerate. We can be forgetful.
You might have seen recent news reports where a thoughtful researcher questioned the results of research on the Mediterranean Diet. The researcher found some errors in reported statistics (reports labeled things “Standard Deviation” that were really “Standard Error”). But more of the work questioned how accurately study participants kept track or remembered and properly reported what they had eaten. A similar study on the benefits of eating fish or consuming omega 3 fish oil supplements was challenged. Those challenging the study claimed that the level of omega 3 found in those who rarely/never ate fish or consumed supplements and those who claimed to eat fish regularly or take supplements were far too close. That is, either the group that reported they didn’t eat fish must have eaten some, or the group that said they ate it regularly really didn’t. In the end, no one challenged the conclusion that the Med diet is healthy; just noted how hard it is to study individual habits over several years.
What has this got to do with creativity? It is far harder to study. No “Group 1 takes the red pill/Group 2 gets the blue placebo” testing. Alex Pang tried anyway, by studying the habits of people known as creative, such as artists, composers, musicians, writers, and scientists who achieved breakthrough thinking. He reported his results in the book Rest, Why You Get More Done When You Work Less. He concluded that there are techniques that might just boost your creativity. Those include walking around, procrastinating, naps and vacations.
Peripatetic means constantly in motion, or walking. It was applied to Aristotle and his students centuries ago, purportedly because Aristotle walked around the Lyceum with the students while lecturing. Aristotle was on to something. Taking walking breaks seem to clear out current thoughts to make way for deeper thinking. Characters as different as John Adams and Darwin were known for long walks. The Origin of the Species and The Constitution are the results.
Even better is a long walk through natural surroundings. Nature walks are associated with breakthrough ideas.
Warren Buffett reportedly has a basket on his desk labeled “Too hard”. We understand that generally he decides to toss out things in that category. But sometimes he chooses to think about one of those investment opportunities further. It may be that postponing action allows the brain to ruminate and gather relevant information, so that when one tackles the hard problem, it yields more quickly to a solution.
Take Real Vacations
A common thread in creativity is the impact of vacations, rest and travel. Singer/songwriter Graham Nash was so inspired by a trip to Morocco that he wrote one of Crosby Stills and Nash’s biggest hits: Marrakesh Express. One week or more vacations (and not a “staycation”) tend to be long enough for pressing daily activities to be temporarily forgotten, freeing up the brain to perform differently.
Take a Nap
Thomas Edison was famous for late night work, frequently working alone in his lab. That is when he had his breakthrough on the incandescent bulb filament. What’s less known is his tendency to nap. Naps can recharge.
Peak Creativity Time
In his most recent best-seller When, author Daniel Pink describes that, while all of us share a biology that functions in that daily 24-hour rhythm, there are morning people, night owls and various blends of the two. Most of us go through a predictable daily pattern of peak, decline and rebound. Creativity seems to be strongest at rebound. But the rebound period is different between night owls and morning people. Need to solve a difficult problem, work on the Great American Novel that’s been stewing in your brain, or pen that song that would make Lennon and McCartney jealous? It’s likely that you’ll do your best to work on it during your rebound time. Search for “chronotype” and you’ll find some tests to help you figure out what type you are.
In Case You Missed It
Our take on how you can prevent stress from damaging your brain. Link here.
We covered the diet almost guaranteed to grow a bigger brain. Link here.
Our activity blankets for dementia sufferers are back in stock. In our view, ours are better than others in seven ways. If you are thinking of purchasing one for someone, may we suggest you order soon? We tend to sell out quickly, and our skilled artisans who make them have limited capacity.
We like to grind coffee beans every morning, but we know that not everyone is into that. (Even Starbucks no longer grinds them fresh, which ruined them as far as we’re concerned.) But we know that not everyone wants to mess with that; they just need their morning coffee. All our small-batch, locally-roasted gourmet coffees are now available in freshly-ground. Time to stock up. Just click this link and buy a lot.
There is surge of new brain building research. We’ll choose from among studies on exercise, coffee and health (yeah!!!), yoga and more.
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