When I travel, I often experience the most amazing creative flashes. The different environments, smells, noises, temperatures just expand my mind to think about things in different ways. Research actually supports this experience. For me, a lot of times this creative spark unloads itself while I am flying in an airplane. There must be something about the experience of being trapped, forced to sit still, with only limited stimulation, that lets all the ideas and energies that accumulated over time bubble to the surface.
So while I was trapped in my airplane on the way from LA to Dallas, with the styrofoam mug of coffee in my hand, and a very nervous person next to me that constantly switched from reading one book to the next on his IPad, I was thinking about the opportunity I had just in this moment, in the airplane, to do nothing and relax.
I was thinking about the opportunity I had just in this moment, in the airplane, to do nothing and relax. Sure, I could have worked on my computer, but without paying for the Internet I would have not been able to email, Facebook, snapchat, twitter or text. Things we usually occupy ourselves with when we have some minutes of “free-time” at our hands. Not too long ago we were stuck at an airplane without any form of “in flight entertainment” whatsoever. And now, these little retractable monitors that fold down every couple of rows to show some airline sponsored TV show almost feel like an insult. So it became normal to download movies or TV shows on our devices or even pay the $9-$15 it costs to download the inflight entertainment program the airline has to offer. And all for a 3-5 hour cross country flight. Now, while I do enjoy watching movies on airplanes when I fly internationally—because it really is the only time where I can do it without feeling guilty that I did not use the time more wisely—I think that time, indeed, can be used more efficiently for our health.
Research has shown how important it is to “be bored”, have downtimes for our brain, and not do anything for a while to recharge our cognitive and self-regulatory batteries. It gives our brain the opportunity to store and process the amount of information we have accumulated over the day from the minute we woke up. And yes, even short 15-minute breaks can have a tremendously positive effect on our stress-level and cognitive overload.
But in today’s technology world it seems that these “recharging” times become less and less common. In fact, I cannot think of a single time during an everyday workday in which people just shut down from their technologies and just take a breath.
All “waiting” times that occupy our everyday life’s, such as waiting for the bus, the green traffic light, the coffee or the meal, are now consumed with being on our smart phones.
These are all times in which the mind could take a #RealBreak and recharge, but instead we continue to deplete its resources.
Why don’t we think about using this “extra” time more wisely? For example, by practicing mindfulness.
Check out this Rewire Happiness Manual for suggestions of different mindfulness practices in your everyday work and technology engaged lives. No extra time needed.