Updated: Oct 5, 2022
See if doing nothing might do more for your creativity than actively engaging in thinking processes.
For today's quick tip, I chose a concept known to the Dutch-speaking world as Niksen. Which, apparently, once translated into English, means literally 'doing nothing'.
I love using words that are foreign or made up and mean nothing to other people. It's like being a child again and using an invented language so your parents won't understand. Have you ever tried it? I spent half of my childhood annoying everyone using words I've created myself. So not a massive surprise that I went after a degree in philology, which involves studying words that no one's used for aeons.
So back to Niksen.
Niksen is an act of doing nothing completely and being ok with it. But apparently, this is what can help us boost creativity - doing absolutely nothing! If we allow our hardworking brains to be idle, we switch on processes that free up certain reserves. It is like daydreaming, and I wrote about it here.
“Dare to be idle. It is all about allowing life to run its course, and to free us from obligations for just a moment.” - Carolien Hamming
I've come across this fascinating concept while listening to Self Care Club podcast. The presenters were reading out extracts from scientific journals, discussing what they think about Niksen and trying it out in their day-to-day routine. I was surprised by how much I learned from their chat. Thank you, ladies!
Apart from an unusual sounding word, the concept itself is not new to me. I love doing nothing. And mind you, it's not about being completely and constantly idle. It's about consciously allowing your brain not to do anything.
Let's take going for a walk as an example.
You might listen to a podcast or your favourite book. Which are entirely amazing ways to spend your time on a walk. But those activities demand certain brain power - our brain is still active. That means we don't give it an opportunity to simply be and wonder along the pathways of its neurons and neurotransmitters.
But if you go for a walk and enjoy the silence (or the noises of the surrounding landscape), you will give your brain an opportunity to run free and recharge.
Or you know when you put on TV as background noise when you are alone or when you are doing household chores? Yet again, your brain is not resting. It's trying to multitask by engaging with a task at hand and trying to catch the essence of whatever drama is unfolding on the TV.
And now remember when you'd switch everything off and clean your house with nothing on? Do you remember that 'aha' moment when you find a solution to a problem bugging you?
This phenomenon is an insight - a sudden deep understanding of something. Many of us would experience something similar in a shower - when we allow our brain to do nothing, it comes up with ideas on its own.
So next time you are about to press play on your TV set or radio - pause - and decide to allow the silence to show you its hidden treasures. And see if you come up with new creative ideas and if your brain feels more refreshed and rejuvenated following this experience.