No, it is not under stress or when in danger … it is during your sleep! Exactly, the time your body and by extension you yourself takes a rest that this small grey blob on top is overly active. Repairing damages, storing memories, preparing and conducting an overall reset … it is almost unbelievable what all those grey cells do and how much energy this costs.
Now let me ask you another question: When do you get your most creative ideas? During those brainstorm sessions at the office? Or on Friday afternoon, during the hours especially reserved for innovation? I think not … it is during those times that you are actually not actively thinking. During a shower, a walk in the garden, even during a visit to the bathroom (mind you, if you visit it without a newspaper), then all kinds of wonderful ideas pop up in your mind.
My argument is quite clear: you are the most creative when you are the least active. Excellent news isn’t it, take regular downtime and the most interesting ideas will come to you virtually automatically. Hmm … Recently I was at a meeting with all kind of leaders, old and especially young (the topic was about millenniums as the future leaders of the new age), and I noticed how extremely busy everybody and specifically the younger people in the audience said they were, not only at work but also in their private life. Every moment that was not spent in meetings or talking informally to people was used to check mails and social media, and I wondered: do we take enough time out to do nothing in order to get the creative ideas we desperately need to solve all those problems we nowadays face?
I plead for regularly taking things slow, for doing nothing and letting nice thoughts come to you, to contemplate an issue for days, maybe even weeks before you actually take action. One of the reasons I can be so creative, in the sense of all those articles and books and blogs I write, is because I can think weeks about the topic of for instance an article. I might have no idea yet what to write and how to write about it, but just having the topic floating around in my mind and letting my brain take care of it often results in the words ‘suddenly’ popping out of my brain pan onto the paper. And voila, seemingly almost without effort there is another finished piece of work. So I urge you: take more time out, not to think consciously, but for doing nothing, taking it slow once in a while, and you will see … you will be much more productive and high performing!
Alan Lightman (2018), In Praise of Wasting Time, TED Books