We spend so much time focussed on what we have to do that we rarely have enough opportunity to do nothing at all.
The thing about doing nothing is this: when our brains are completely
quiet, we have the greatest capacity for breakthrough ideas and truly creative thinking. We can make more connections between disparate things, which helps us combine different experiences and knowledge to achieve true innovation.
What happens when we get breakthrough ideas? Well, the first thing that happens is that our brain activity goes completely quiet. After this comes a big spike in activity across a whole range of areas and most scientists believe that this is how we combine different learning and different ideas to make a combined innovation. We literally ‘switch on’ different areas of learning all at once. The point is that these breakthroughs only come after a period of complete quiet.
When we think too hard about a problem, we don’t allow these periods and that’s why we can never find the answers to problems when we try too hard. In fact, people with damage in the most analytical part of their brains find it easier to do abstract problem solving.