Thursday, October 17, 2013

142 How to manage your brain

In the book The Chaos Imperative author Ori Brafman outlines the the biological mechanics of creativity. I consider myself well versed in the literature of both creativity and self-improvement but had never read many of the examples of creativity cited in this slim volume. Some, like the role of the bubonic plague during the middle ages in preparing for new ideas, I had heard before but the author casts new light on the subject. The point being that in our lives as well as in history there are moments of chaos and tranquility. How we handle these moments effects how we grow creatively.

Moments of chaos need to be balanced by leisure for our subconscious minds to work appropriately. This idea has been explained before but never as clearly. I found the book hard to put down.

The main narrative of the book revolves around a project Brafman secures as an advisor to the US military. The book is not political and you don't have to be pro-military to glean the insights offered. In fact the military might be the best example of the quintessential inflexible bureaucracy that many might think would be beyond the reach of creativity. The military is perhaps the ideal test of Brafman's ideas.

In order to support Brafman's thesis the author recounts many examples of how periods of leisure led to an amazing outpouring of creativity. Of course most of the moments of leisure, some perhaps better described as moments of surrender, were preceded by years if not decades of intense preparation. But the author makes the lesson clear; the incessant drive forward, no matter how disciplined, can defeat the creative process.

The Chaos Imperative was a good reminder of the necessity of play, leisure, the pursuit of pointless passions, and even the necessity of boredom. If you've been struggling forward yet bewildered by your lack of progress in your painting I highly suggest reading this thought provoking and well written book.

Brad Teare October 2013

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