Have you ever wondered why you get your best ideas in the shower or bath or merely walking to the shop around the corner? There has been countless times I’ve been having a shower and have been struck with some kind of creative lightning bolt and come up with some amazing “ah-ha” ideas and solutions, so why do these creative ideas only come to you when you’re not being creative at all?
I’ve done some research into this and apparently the term for when the creative lightning bolt strikes on you, is called “The Creative Pause.” This term was more than likely first coined by Edward de Bono, he is regarded by many to be the leading authority in the world in the field of creative thinking and the direct teaching of thinking as a skill. In de Bono’s book Serious Creativity, he asserts that even when things are going along, well, swimmingly, “some of the best results come when people stop to think about things that no one else has stopped to think about.” This creative pause allows the space for your mind to drift and disengage, opening it up to new ways of seeing.
Is our disengaged, distracted creative mindset when we’re actually at our most engaged creatively? Do we need to perform these mundane routine tasks, let ourselves be bored and force ourselves to have a change of scenery to be super creative?
Think about it, when was the last time you were bored when did you last stop actively thinking about things and just let your thoughts run wild? When was the last time you sat down with a cup of tea or coffee and had a meeting with yourself about nothing in particular with no phone, laptop or tablet nearby? Your answer – you probably can’t remember, but if you can remember, how awesome was that idea you thought of or how much of a relief was it to finally solve that problem? Being bored and disengaged is our answer to solving problems and generating super cool ideas so why aren’t we actively doing it more often?
We live in an age where everyone (the next generation especially) seems to have a need to be entertained 24/7. They have their iPads, Xbox’s, Wii’s and PS3′s. Being bored is not valuable to them (or so they think), it’s an inconvenience and frustrating period of not knowing how to entertain themselves. When I was their age I was down the park making daisy chains, digging up worms, hanging out on the street I grew up on with kids of my own age, going for a cycle ride and colouring in. There’s none of that anymore. It’s impossible to get bored in the 21st Century. There’s always something more interesting to do on a phone or computer than outside your door. Yes, I’m as much of a culprit as anyone. If I’m going for a walk to the shop I’ll make my routine calls to family and friends, or waiting for someone in a bar or coffee shop I’ll grab my phone and check up on news feeds.
Recently I’m becoming more aware to the fact that I’m not the only one not able to sit and enjoy company without attempting to make a connection or consume information on a device and it’s increasingly become a big pet peeve of mine. When I meet up with friends or go and visit your family there is always someone on their phone/tablet/laptop. No one truly knows how to spend time with people any more discussing non important things like the weather, current affairs or the journey. No one truly remembers how to embrace boredom and survive not being connected or entertained by some sort of device and be entertained by the people surrounding them. How has it got the the stage that we let devices we consume information on, consume us?
I know I do this quite often, to all my friends and family reading this – it’s something I’m actively going to try and stop as it’s become an annoyance to me. Even taking a photo with my phone (the cameras on them are so good nowadays you don’t need to carry a compact camera around with you – which I always did) I take out my phone – snap a photo or two, then it’s upload to Instagram, check Facebook, and Twitter (lo and behold you’ve missed something important ) quickly check my emails and text messages and then back to check Facebook and Twitter again… see where I’m going? Its become an addiction and I know it’s not just me. Showers and baths will soon enough offer a way for us to stay connected.
Where has our sacred space gone? Where and when do we just be ourselves with our thoughts? Being bored and being able to achieve the Creative Pause is becoming an endangered activity.
The solution? Get your time and space by actively scheduling boredom into your day even if it’s for just for a few minutes. Allocate time for deep thinking where you let your mind drift. Actively switch yourself off from the outside world and have time with yourself. Go for a walk – but don’t use your phone, jump in the shower – with no TV or Radio, lay on the floor – and stare at the ceiling, or go for a drive. Have a meeting with yourself. See what creativity or solution it unlocks. You may be surprised!
The day you lose your ability to be bored or achieve your Creative Pause is the day you’ve lost yourself…