We are so bloated on everyone elses shallow thoughts, we’ve no energy left to explore our own depths.
We consume such massive amounts of TV, internet, and social media. All stimulating and feel good for the moment sure, but leaves us a little empty after…And just like the slow inevitable effects of malnutrition, we’re slowly wasting away mentally. There is little left afterward to invest in those things that are really important to us.
Too often we ignore high value pursuits for the readily available low value but highly stimulating pursuits of social media and internet.
Step back from your emotional addictions and go deep.
Like junk food, we are systematically training our minds to crave novelty and the sensational.Which seems to be leading to our inability to focus or concentrate deeply.
A deep think is about stepping back from our mental addictions and emotional swirls. It’s about expanding the moment, creating some mental space in your head. Because if we’re going to bias our thinking towards depth as opposed to breadth, which I hope we all intend, we need to recover the silence. Recover the deep now. Trade low value activities for high value activities. Train our thinking like a magnifying glass instead of a search light.
To be sure, when I speak of silence, doesn’t mean thats where our heads stay. It’s about not hearing the music for the noise. Recover silence to take control of your thinking and direct your thoughts single mindedly.
Whats this mean for flow?
If your a flow hacker then you know it’s all about triggers. We may tinker and experiment but bottom line is we pile on as many of the flow triggers as we can. Even though there are rhythms and routines that help get us to that ‘trance of working’ it is by no means systematic. So we pile on every trigger we can discern, discover and determine.
As flow triggers go deep focus is a biggie. Long periods of uninterrupted intense attention are key to “action and awareness merging” and “distractions excluded from consciousness” aspects of flow.
What does this mean for creativity?
Scott Barry Kaufman & Carolyn Gregoires book “Wired to Create” is probably the most useful book out there on the ‘how to’ of creativity. There is hardly a chapter in the book (all themed under 10 things highly creative people do differently) that doesn’t speak to the importance of a deep think.
Especially as a visual creative, a deep think is about silencing the words we are surrounded by constantly and focusing on the visual. We are trained from childhood to verbalize everything. Most creative breakthroughs come through visualization ( excluding authors and haiku masters of course).
I am endlessly inspired and captivated by Einsteins thought experiments. Visualizing riding on a light particle leading to the theory of relativity. Einstein was trained in this kind of thinking as a child. As a visual creative the connection is even more clear. We need to spend time, to deep think visually, exploring patterns and shapes and rhythms.
According to William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics “More than 50 percent of the cortex, the surface of the brain, is devoted to processing visual information,”. We can use some of that same neural machinery to visualize. But we have to quiet the verbal intrusion first, the monkey mind.
What does this mean for mastery?
Deep now, intense concentration, razor sharp focus – it works.
Robert M. Nideffer, Ph.D writes: “With respect to learning, reviews of the experimental literature appear to indicate that one of the key differences between highly skilled performers and less skilled performers is their ability to “do more with less information.”. He goes on show how their expertise doesn’t allow them to deal with more information but to pay attention to less.
Looking under the hood, notice what Cal Newport in his book “Deep Work” shares:
“By focusing intensely on a specific skill, you’re forcing the specific relevant circuit to fire, again and again, in isolation. This repetitive use of a specific circuit triggers the wrapping layers of myelin around the neurons in the circuits effectively cementing the skill. The reason, therefore, why it’s important to focus intensely on the task at hand while avoiding distraction is because this is the only way to isolate the relevant neural circuit enough to trigger useful myelination.”
Face it we’re lazy. We always seem to err on the side of efficiency, minimum energy expenditure. Going deep requires more energy. Its harder and requires more deliberate focus and mental wherewithal. But it is a skill, it can be developed. Anything less is just mediocrity. The deeper you go the greater the rewards.
Bite down on the Deep Now