Why It's Good to be Lazy

Creativity is the residue of time wasted. - Einstein

With school out and the lazy days of summer settling in, I wanted to write a blog about creativity, but I was stuck.  I’m too busy to be inspired, I thought, staring blankly at my computer screen.  Creativity is linked to laziness, downtime, daydreaming, and genius. 

But time is at a premium these days.  We overbook our lives and our kids.  Yet as the world grows more complex and multifaceted, the ability to draw new connections, see hidden relationships, and think outside the box is vital for both adults and children.  How we do navigate this modern maze?

“You are seven years old and school is canceled.  You have the entire day to yourself.  What would you do?  Where would you go?  Who would you see?” 

A researcher posed this scenario to two groups for a study on creativity.  The first group was given the starting cue: You are seven years old.  The second group’s cue just began with School is canceled.   The first group came up with twice as many creative ideas as the second group.  In other words, adults who imagined themselves as young kids scored higher on creative tasks.

Why?  Kids don’t think about creativity, they just respond.  They haven’t yet learned to overwork a problem, or get paralyzed by the idea they might make a mistake or say something wrong.  They also play a lot, which is not only fun but enhances intelligence and imagination.   

We all have a fountain of creativity within us.  It is a matter of connecting to it.  Creativity is like a muscle; it gets stronger with exercise.  Even if only ½ hour a day, try to build imagination into your daily routine.

Okay!  School is out.  You are seven again, and you have the time to play a little, dream a lot.  Let’s go.  Here are 5 creativity-enhancing tips:

1. Sit in a blue room.  People get twice as many creative thoughts when surrounded by blue.  Why?  The brain’s alpha waves are responsible for insights.  Alpha waves increase with the color blue, which reminds us of sky and ocean.

2. Take a nap or a shower.  Creativity is more likely in relaxed states.  That’s when those alpha waves kick in. 

3. Play, laugh, assume new viewpoints.  Most of all: let go of the fear of failure.  If you are working on a problem, the best thing you can do is stop thinking about it.  Go for a walk instead.  When you shift focus, your brain does too, opening the way for ingenuity.

4. Daydream.  Contrary to what your teachers might have told you in school, daydreaming is linked to higher creativity.

5. Go to a museum, park, zoo, art gallery.  Travel if you can.  Anything out of your ordinary routine can stimulate the senses and give opportunity to new ways of seeing and experiencing the world.

Happy summer!  By the way, for a great summer read, check out *Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine: How Creativity Works.


Princess Ivana