Keep a fresh mind
Photo by Nathan Dumlao
“The most creative people are curious. They are interested in many things, not just in their field of activity.” Asimov said. “Creativity is a new idea that actually comes from the creator's ability to combine two ideas, two things, both of which have a priori no obvious link. This presupposes, on the part of the creator, a good deal of general knowledge, without which he cannot make the connection between these two items from two different fields."
This is an invitation to wander in different worlds to stimulate our curiosity and creativity.
KEEP A FRESH MIND!
There is also a physiological phenomenon to creativity. Our brain to function needs a lot of oxygen. The human brain needs energy for the connections between more than 1 million billion neurons! The most complex organ and the most oxygen-consuming (1/5).
In the average adult human, the brain represents about 2% of the body weight. Remarkably, despite its relatively small size, the brain accounts for about 20% of the oxygen and, hence, calories consumed by the body.
The first men on earth have walked for about 2 million years. This method of travel enabled the release of arms and hands before gradually allowing the handling of tools. Therefore, walking is no longer just a mode of transportation it becomes a way for men to anticipate and project their action.
SOCRATES walked in Athens. His philosophy was related to walking in the city: the accumulation of objects, sceneries and stories allowed him to go from specific items to conceptual ideas. When he left the city his thoughts were attracted by the lyrical, the mythological. Where we walk modifies the way we think!
JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU introduced the importance of walking in his literature and philosophy. He also highlighted the importance of the body in walking and everything it felt: momentum, fatigue, movement, the surrounding nature, loneliness, breath, action... Walking alone in his days was perceived badly. For Rousseau, it was therefore an economic and political engagement: walking took him closer to people and created certain types of thoughts.
For NIETZSCHE "walking is a systematic imbalance”. Thoughts developed during walking are new ideas. We are constantly "out of balance" in relation to ideas. We take risks. We doubt. Finally, we find something and we go on. He even theorized the "think-walk", for example, in "Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits". Wanderers are attached to everything and their desire to move with the landscape. Nietzsche's philosophy will be permanently linked with the landscape. Switzerland: crossing the high, austere and bare valleys, where he walked alone, where he developed the riskiest thought: the concept of superman, the notion of ‘eternal return’.
New ideas represent an imbalance in comparison to popular belief, forcing us to explore a new direction. New ideas push us to think otherwise. We doubt, then we catch up, it rebalances the disequilibrium.
When I met the poet Gil Jouanard in Saint-Louis Island in Paris (his favorite place to walk for writing inspiration), he told me all his books were written from solo walks. With a small pocket notebook in hand, he runs at full speed until the next bench to record fleeting ideas that come to him.
“AS LONG AS I WALK, I’LL HAVE THE ILLUSION I LIVE. AT THE MERE THOUGHT OF WALKING, A WIND OF FREEDOM BLOWS IN OUR HEADS. LIFE IS A WALK.”
— BERNARD GIRAUDEAU
For centuries, great thinkers instinctively started walking when they needed to stimulate their creativity. Charles Dickens regularly walked thirty miles a day, while the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said: "All great thoughts are conceived by walking."
Stanford researchers have found that people perform better on tests of creative divergent thinking during and immediately after a walk. The effect is similar regardless of whether participants have walked inside or outside, or walking on a treadmill staring at a wall. Their studies show that the act of walking is essential to enhance creativity.
Dan Schwartz from Stanford Graduate School of Education who led the study said in an interview that there are very complex physiological changes associated with walking. He does not know exactly why walking is helpful to think better, probably because it allows the brain to release and relax. Sport is known to improve mood, and it is likely that aerobic activity has this effect. But it is unclear whether more intense forms of exercise have the same effect as walking. "When I am fit, my imagination can go, but when I'm not in shape, all I can think is how much it hurts," said Schwartz, perhaps suggesting that activity that is not demanding gives a creative boost.
Barbara Oakley, the author of, A mind for numbers, said in an interview that we make a mistake to think that we only learn when we're focused. In fact, walking unconsciously allows us to think in a different way. "Part of why the march that ends, it is perhaps because it is boring. This aspect encourages our mind to go back again and again, even unconsciously, to what we have learned and analyzed. This important part of the creative process has helped my work many times, I cannot tell you how many times I'm completely blocked. Sometimes I get so stuck that I did not even know I'm stuck. I become so frustrated that I finally get up and walk out. As soon as I walk for ten or fifteen minutes, the ideas start coming to me. It's the best thing I could do and that I should have done earlier."
Share in the comments, how walking enhances your creativity? Do you remember having a good idea during a walk?