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Does Your Mind Wander? Here's Why That Can Be Your Greatest Asset

A Wandering, Creative Mind

Mind-wandering makes your brain richer and more creative. Like a creativity machine left on its own, it helps to solve problems, enrich our understanding, and process information that is otherwise left unprocessed.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Does Your Mind Wander? Here's Why That Can Be Your Greatest Asset

Does Your Mind Wander? Here's Why That Can Be Your Greatest Asset

https://www.bakadesuyo.com/2012/12/wandering-mind-path-creative-genius-misery-early-death/

bakadesuyo.com

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Key Ideas

It’s Okay To Wander

People’s minds wander, sometimes up to 30 to 40 percent of the time, while doing activities like reading.

A wandering mind is invoking the good brain regions, which are associated with solving insight puzzles. It is at work trying to find the answer to your stress-related problems, automatically.

A Wandering, Creative Mind

Mind-wandering makes your brain richer and more creative. Like a creativity machine left on its own, it helps to solve problems, enrich our understanding, and process information that is otherwise left unprocessed.

Creativity Happens In Chaos

Creativity by default is a messy process. Doing creative stuff, and letting your mind wander forms new connections and helps us subconsciously compare and contrast our problems and solutions.

Our brain's neural network needs to be fed different kinds of food, at the same time.

The Dark Side Of Mind-Wandering

Mind-wandering has also been associated with unhappiness and stress.

This happens when the individual’s current life situation is not optimal or desirable. The mind tries to make up for this by imagining other things.

Focus-Unfocus

A wandering unfocused mind allows noise inside us, which helps in developing new ideas. A completely focused mind is shut, and as there is no noise which enters, it remains uncreative.

Many people have certain rituals that allow them to relax their minds deliberately. Like pausing and savouring a hot cup of coffee in the morning, allowing the mind to go places.

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When we’re consciously doing things we’re using the “executive attention network, ” the parts of the brain that control and inhibit our attention. The attention network makes it possible for us to relate directly to the world presently around us.

By contrast, when our minds wander, we activate the brain’s “default mode network, ” which is the brain “at rest”; not focused on an external, goal-oriented task. In this mode, we still tap about 95% of the energy we use when our brains are engaged in focused thinking. 

Types Of Daydreaming
  • Poor attention control: when people with poor attention control drift into daydreaming. These people are anxious, easily distracted, and have difficulty concentrating, even on their daydreams.
  • Guilty-dysphoric: when our thoughts drift to unproductive and negative places. We berate ourselves for perceived mistakes or flaws and feel emotions like guilt, anxiety, and anger.
  • Positive-constructive: when our thoughts veer toward the imaginative; it reflects our drive to explore ideas and feelings, plan, and problem-solve. 

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Boredom sparks creativity
Boredom sparks creativity

Boredom is one of the most important factors in creativity. Boredom is a productive state as long as you don't let it get to you.

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Our mind when we're bored

When we're bored, two key things are happening in our minds: One is a 'desire bind' where someone wants to do something but not anything that's on offer. The other is when your mind is itching to be engaged.

Don't fill the void

Our first instinct when we experience some boredom is to fill it with Netflix lists, Instagram feeds, and TikTok videos. Riding out this boredom is vital though.

Boredom is not in itself creative. It's what it leads to that is significant. In the gap of boredom, you're motivated to look for something else, and there's a real chance you'll discover something new.

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Rituals

Rituals are repeated behaviors (like routines). However, they’re deeply personal and are imbued with deeper meaning beyond just a sequence of actions. They mark a change, a switch in task or moment of importance.  And it’s those symbolic actions performed at key moments that help us move through the day smoothly.

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How to control a wandering mind

To change anything in the brain, you have to focus your attention on the task at hand. However, most find it challenging to concentrate for long periods of time without daydreaming.

Curb your wandering mind by working out the cause for the wandering. Procrastination is a psychological coping mechanism that kicks in during times of stress.

Brain target
  • The default mode network of our brain, responsible for mind-wandering and creativity, needs to be turned down when we want to work for any length of time.  
  • The brain's dorsal attention network - the part that helps us make decisions and focus on a task - moves into action when we are deliberately focusing on a task.

When people are less able to focus for any length of time, they are leaning more heavily on the left hemisphere of their brain, while the right hemisphere is not working as hard as it should be working.

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Our wandering minds

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Dealing with difficult experiences

Distracting ourselves from difficult experiences seems to exacerbate rather than reduce, the stress they cause.

When the mind wanders, it's usually drawn into negative ruminations or projection, making us feel worse than if we simply focused on our actual experience.

Cultivating awareness

By noticing what's happening with gentle curiosity, we start to work constructively with the events of our lives.

Gently bringing our minds back to the present can help us let go of these unhelpful interpretations and see situations for what they are, rather than getting pulled into angry, fearful or depressing thoughts about them. 

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Changing your context

Your context influences your decisions. If you make an effort to control your environment, you won't have to exert self-control.

If you don't have cookies in your house, you won't be able to eat cookies.

The 20-second rule

Make the things you want to do take 20 seconds less time to start and let the things you want to keep away from take 20 seconds longer to get going.

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Breaks keep us from getting bored

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Breaks and brain connections

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Steve Jobs
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