Slow Down and Pay Attention – Answers are All Around You.
We live in an age of speed, where faster is seen as better. In your grandparents’ day, if they missed the train, they waited three days for the next one to come by. Now we experience acute anxiety of we miss the first section of a revolving door.
Faster is not always better, especially when it comes to thinking. Creativity is all about seeing things differently and making new connections, and new neural connections happen only when the brain slows from high-speed beta brainwave thinking to the more relaxed and slower speed alpha and theta brainwave thinking – when we’re daydreaming, or meditating or taking a leisurely stroll around the block
Some of history’s most productive people took regular time to slow their brains and experience the rich rewards of alpha and theta waves.
• Ben Franklin spent up to an hour a day taking “air baths:” opening the windows, removing his clothes, sitting in a chair, and thinking.
• In stressful times, Einstein would row a small boat to the middle of a lake, sit on the water, and do nothing but think, sometimes for hours.
• During the darkest hours of World War II, Winston Churchill took most afternoons to relax in a hot tub while he painted.
• The Dalai Lama spends between two and three hours a day in various stages of meditation and prayer reflecting on “the roots of compassion and what he can do for his people, the ‘Chinese brothers and sisters,’ while also preparing himself for his death.”
• Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck spent up to two and half hours a day doing nothing but thinking and praying. He claimed it was the most productive time of his day.
• Arianna Huffington starts her mornings with deep breathing and gratitude. Then she does thirty minutes of meditation and thirty minutes of exercise. She also regularly practices yoga.
According to a 2015 study from Microsoft, the average human has an eight-second attention span – less than that of a goldfish. Our ability to focus has shrunk over the years due in part to technology and our digital connectedness.
A great way to increase your ability to find better answers is to get clear on what you’re looking for, and this is best done by writing about your questions and problems. Writing programs your brain and tells it what to pay attention to and what to ignore. Once you’ve written about what you’re looking for, pay attention. Answers will show up in the strangest places – magazines on table in a client’s office, news clippings in a paper you see in the barbershop, other people’s discussions you happen to overhear, and of course, on the Internet.