Wednesday, January 18th, 2017
As productive as we can be in groups, there’s nothing quite like working—and thinking—alone. As it turns out, the more creative, imaginative networks of the brain simply work better when we’re alone. That’s when we are able to engage in what neuroscientists call “constructive internal reflection,” a mental state crucial to idea generation and creativity. When the outside world is tuned out, our brains are better at making certain connections, crystallizing memories, and processing information.
Amid the bustle of our lives, it’s easy to lose sight of those moments of solitude that can be so invaluable and rewarding. Solitude is a crucial and underrated ingredient for creativity; from Darwin to Picasso to Dr. Seuss, our greatest thinkers have often worked in solitude.
Creativity flourishes in solitude. With quiet, you can hear your thoughts, you can reach deep within yourself, you can focus. Time alone allows us to order our priorities according to what we need, rather than the needs of others. The paradigm experience of solitude is a state characterized by disengagement from the immediate demands of other people—a state of reduced social inhibition and increased freedom to select one’s mental and physical activities.
In other words, when you’re able to disengage from the demands of other people, you’ve suddenly freed up the mental space to focus on longer-term, bigger-picture projects and needs. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind.
Summing-up: Moments of solitude—even small ones—when self-imposed, intentional, and fully appreciated, can have profound effects on our productivity and creative thinking.