Stress – The Creativity Killer…

I read something last night that stuck in my mind – I didn’t know why at the time, I but knew it would find it’s way into the necessary ‘mind-file’ at some point for future use.
I hadn’t planned on 4:53am this morning though. Still, there’s no 9 to 5 for for good ideas hey!
– “When I would think more of survival than of creativity, this would generate desperation, and desperation is the very antithesis of inspiration”
Stress, is a creativity killer.
As David Rock (Founder of The NeuroLeadership Institute – a global initiative bringing neuroscientists and leadership experts together) states – ‘what you need in order to be creative, is insight’. In other words, in order to access the area of your mind that houses your experiences and stores all your abilities, resources and understanding, one needs quiet.
In 1869, Russian chemist Dimitri Mendeleev created the periodic table not by racking his brain and wringing out every last ounce of thought. The idea, amazingly, came to him in a dream.
The poet T.S Eliot described the relaxed mind state as a time of ‘idea incubation’ – he went on to say, “To me it seems that at these moments, which are characterised by the sudden lifting of the burden of anxiety and fear which presses upon our daily life so steadily that we are unaware of it – some obstruction is momentarily whisked away”.
Stephen King observed in his excellent meditation on ‘the art of creative sleep and wakeful dreaming’, “[when] we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives”.
But under an accumulation of minor (and some major) day-to-day stresses, we can find that ‘quiet insight’ shutting down.
Have you ever caught yourself struggling with simple memory recall? Have you ever heard yourself saying “what’s that guys name, you know the one, the one with the hair and the eyes, he was in that film with the planes, and he was in that other film, what was it, it was in Dubai and he jumps out of a window…”
All the info apart from the name itself.
Now, the name is there, in the mind somewhere locked behind a vaulted door, but the harder you try to remember, the less likely it feels you’ll be able to find the key.
Until you stop.
Until you take the pressure off.
So you go for a walk or you sit on the loo or you’re engaged in something completely different… and voila!
Your mind is outstandingly creative (for a quick reference, you have roughly 100 billion neurons – those things that create thought – and each one of those 100 billion neurons has up to 10,000 connections taking information in, and 10,000 terminals projecting information out, which equals TRILLIONS of connections) – and in rest your brain is processing like a mad thing – predicting, filing, solution finding, organising, rehearsing. And it’s incredibly effective and productive at doing it.
But when you cram more and more extrinsic stimulation into the mind in a conscious state, which can have you misguidedly looking/feeling/believing that you are getting more done – or when you keep amassing those stresses, getting weighed down more and more with those constant issues with work or relationships or whatever else is going on in your life, well then you could actually be slowing the natural effectiveness of your brilliant thought processes.
Stress and creativity are dogged foes.
As David Lynch once said – “These negative things like anger, and depression, and sorrow, they’re like a poison to the filmmaker.
They’re a poison to the painter.
They’re poison to creativity.”
But creativity isn’t all about theories of relativity, atomic numbers of chemical elements, black and white films with men looking like elephants or amassing that perfect deck or mood board.
Creativity is also about normal everyday tasks – what to do with your life – how can I be a better person in my relationship – what can I do with the kids when it’s raining outside all day.
Creativity is about finding solutions to the constant everyday challenges that we all face.
Creativity, is thinking.
Maybe it’s time to go for a walk.
Mission Impossible.
Top Gun.

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