“With so many big questions stemming from my central quandary, I dived into trying to understand what happens when we constantly keep our brains busy and never give ourselves time to mentally meander. I spoke with neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists about ‘mind-wandering’—what our brains do when we’re doing nothing at all, or not fully focused on a task.
We may feel like we are doing very little when we endlessly fold laundry, but our brains are actually hard at work. When our minds wander, we activate something called the ‘default mode,’ the mental place where we solve problems and generate our best ideas, and engage in what’s known as ‘autobiographical planning,’ which is how we make sense of our world and our lives and set future goals. The default mode is also involved in how we try to understand and empathize with other people, and make moral judgments.
When we let ourselves space out and our mind wander, we do our most original thinking and problem solving; without distraction, your mind can go to some interesting and unexpected places. Creativity—no matter how you define or apply it—needs a push, and boredom, which allows new and different connections to form in our brain, is a most effective muse. …
According to Dr. Jonathan Smallwood, professor of cognitive neuroscience and an expert in mind-wandering at the University of York, ‘In a very deep way, there’s a close link between originality and creativity and the spontaneous thoughts we generate when our minds are idle.’ In other words, you have to let yourself be bored to be brilliant.”
~ Manoush Zomorodi from Bored and Brilliant
I got this book after my dear friend Pilar Gerasimo (founding editor of Experience Life magazine) said all the cool kids were enjoying it.
Now, when Pilar recommends a book, I listen. So, of course, I immediately went to Amazon to pick it up. A book all about how important it is to master our relationship with technology grounded in the neuroscience and cognitive science of “mind-wandering”? Yep. I’m in!
Manoush Zomorodi is the host of WNYC’s (New York’s public radio station) popular podcast and show called Note to Self. She decided to do a little challenge with her listeners. 20,000 (!) people participated in her 7-day “Bored and Brilliant” challenge. This book is the result of all she (and her community) learned. (Get a copy here.)
It’s a fun, quick read packed with Big Ideas on how, as per the sub-title, “spacing out can unlock your most productive and creative self.” Spacing out leads to you being more productive and creative? Science says: Yep.
I’m excited to share some of my favorite Big Ideas we can apply to our lives TODAY so let’s jump straight in!
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