Busy people don’t have epiphanies.” One of Einstein’s lesser-known theories that he believed brought him to his greatest potential can explain a lot about how creativity is cultivated. He wholeheartedly believed that ideas happen when our minds are at rest or when we’re staring into a fireplace, stargazing, or walking the water’s edge on a beach.
According to theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli, “Einstein wouldn’t have come up with those theories if he hadn’t been inclined to just hang around—seemingly without purpose.”
In essence, he believed in a minimalist view of singularity, acts of simplicity that allow the mind the space and time it needs to declutter. He likened it to a transfer of energy that works to propel us toward our most creative thought. In fact, one of Einstein’s regular practices was to intently focus on relaxing his mind and allow it to wander (would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall to see Einstein’s mind at rest!). He even had a name for this method. He called it “combinatory play” and insisted it was the secret behind his genius.
After learning all this, I myself, have been thinking about the application of this in today’s world. In a time where the informational feedback loop attacks our attention from every angle, it helps to see that there might be ways in which we can regain control and have a choice in what we experience with little more than what some might see as loafing aimlessly.
Over the past year, I’ve discovered for myself what a “squirrel” minded world of input we live in. There are excuses I could make to explain my lack of focus, but that isn’t energy well spent, and it takes me away from what I really aspire to achieve. I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting that I’ve spent a lot of wasted time letting the outside world take precedence. Riding on guilt doesn’t do any good either. Instead, I find it’s time to take heed to one brilliant man’s understanding of how to bring clarity back into our lives and his concept of honing in on what matters.
What Einstein has offered us is a ‘pseudo-life compass’ that can serve us all with a new kind of inspiration. Here’s a quick peak at the process I have started that I’d like to share:
1. Statement of intention: Choose your own creating adventure and decide on a daily or weekly goal to name one thing you want to accomplish related to your ultimate goal. It doesn’t need to be anything big, just something you can give your focal attention to and achieve.
2. Strategize a plan: How will you get it done? How long will it take? Who will you need to support you? What resources might be required? Write it down if that helps you commit to it.
3. Focus in: Put every other decision or action behind your prioritized intention. You’re not being selfish even if others say you are. You are being true to you!
4. Detours: If and when distractions occur, be mindful of your goal and devise plans to maneuver around them. Find writing friends and allies who can help you navigate and problem-solve around disruptions.
5. Ask for help: Seek out those who share and support your intentions and ask for help when you need it.
6. Accept that there will be situations out of your control that demand your attention and pull you away from your intention. Be kind to yourself and let it go of the things you can’t control.
7. Reflect and Celebrate: Give yourself 5 minutes at the end of each day to process what you’ve accomplished, and mark your achievements in a journal by sharing in social spaces, or in a quiet moment of acknowledgment.