The 5 min read, that will make you Insanely CREATIVE
And Creativity cannot be forced.
I met him at a tech conference some time back. We exchanged pleasantries and then our business cards.
“Chief Happiness Officer? Interesting title. And how do you go about your job; by paying huge increments to employees and fabulous perks from time to time?”. I asked, unable to hide the sarcasm in my voice.
He smiled and said “No Ravi, we are a growing startup and really cannot afford that route to happiness as of now. But what we can afford is creating a congenial atmosphere of compassion, empathy and respect where employees feel valued and excited about their work.”
“And one of the ways I do this, is by teaching them, the art of doing nothing at times. The aim is not to achieve 100% billable mediocre employees. My aim is to achieve only 90% billable but 100% creative employees. This is our mantra and it has worked for us beautifully till now”
Intrigued, I waited for him to Explain -:
The art of doing nothing is often associated with laziness and lethargy. Unfortunately, this is the most misunderstood interpretation, that is ever possible of this wonderful concept. The art of nothingness is like taking a leaf out of the Italian way of life; La dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing). The very idea here is that doing nothing is an activity in itself.
Some of the advantages of indulging in nothingness can be -:
You become more CREATIVE
In 1881, famous inventor Nikola Tesla had fallen seriously ill on a trip to Budapest. There, a college friend, Anthony Szigeti, took him on walks to help him recover. As they were watching the sunset on one of these walks, Tesla suddenly had an insight about rotating magnetic fields — which would in turn lead to the development of modern day’s alternating current electrical mechanism.
Similarly, Friedrich August Kekulé, one of the most renowned organic chemists in 19th-century Europe, discovered the ring-shaped structure of the organic chemical compound benzene while daydreaming about the famous circular symbol of a snake eating its own tail. And Albert Einstein famously turned to music — Mozart in particular — when he was grappling with complex problems and needed inspiration.
So what is the common point in all these inventions?
The inventions were not made by forced application of mind. All these inventions are a result of randomness; making the mind wander. In other words, we become more creative when our mind is idle, day dreaming or unfocused.
New studies have also proved that, indulging in even hours of nothingness is a smarter way to live and utilize the brain to its full potential. This is the reason that companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook have made “disconnected time” or “nothingness” a key aspect of their workplaces.
You Eliminate FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
In Today’s age of 24X7 “connectedness”, even if we think we are giving our mind a rest, in reality, our fingers are constantly typing on smartphones and laptops. We are “bound” by an electronic leash and even a few seconds of “disconnectivity” gives us jitters thinking, what important things we might be missing.
Experts worldwide have agreed to the fact that this “virtual busyness” is one of the main reasons of the growing cases of mental ill health spreading alarmingly within younger people. Recent studies have shown that, every time we scroll through Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, our brains get a dopamine hit and we get “high”, thus consuming our natural energies.
Practicing “nothingness” not only eliminates us from FOMO but also helps us to take control of our lives and utilize it in more productive pursuits.
You Manage Stress Better
In today’s rat-race world, stress cannot be avoided and this is the sad truth. We are constantly living an unenvious life of tight deadlines and even tighter customer expectations. Our every project is a saga of blood, sweat and tears. This “round the clock” working, no doubt plays havoc on our mental and physical health and burnouts and blackouts are getting very common these days especially among the younger generation.
“Idleness” is the way to be; in fact, it is the only way to give your mind the much needed peace and recharge your batteries at the same time. Once the “toxin” of stress is released from your mind, your mind starts thinking more clearly and you start getting back to creative mode. Frequent cycles of “idleness” in between work help to keep stress within manageable levels.
You Improve the quality of your Life
Has your life become, one big never ending routine of work and deadlines?
Are you missing on the small joys in life and find no time for yourself, your passions, your hobbies and most of all, your family?”
“Nothingness” gives your brain the time to think, the time for self-reflection, in which you can take back control of your life and do all those things that matter the most to you. It helps you to establish the work life balance which has been eluding you for so long, in spite of your best efforts.
The world over, whiling away time is actually becoming a movement as people realize the pointlessness of constantly running on a treadmill of activity. It has depleted their vitality to such an extent that, they can no longer function as “normal human beings”. “Nothingness” gives you a chance to resume the life of a “complete” human being rather than a robot.
Bringing it all Together
We still keep in touch and exchange thoughts and I must confess the ideas of the “Chief Happiness Officer” made a lot of sense to me. I even went ahead and implemented some of them within my organization and got very encouraging results to continue with them further.
So how does one go with the idea of being “Idle”? Start with yourself first.
Next time when you are stuck up, in a traffic jam or waiting at the airport for a delayed flight or even waiting for a movie to start, stop playing with your phone and muttering curses under your breath.
Instead let your mind wander aimlessly to faraway places or let it be absolutely blank. As somebody said rightly “a blank slate is the best place to begin afresh”.
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About the author-:
Ravi Rajan is a global IT program manager based out of Mumbai, India. He is also an avid blogger, Haiku poetry writer, archaeology enthusiast and history maniac. Connect with Ravi on LinkedIn, Medium and Twitter.
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