I have heard that the default setting of the human mind is active daydreaming rather than some kind of blank static. After giving it a little thought, I have to agree. If you allow your mind to go completely blank it starts to entertain itself with various thoughts. However, it is very difficult to get your mind to go completely blank conscientiously – – if I tell you not to think about elephants you can't help but start thinking about elephants.
So, if we agree that the default setting is daydreaming, when is the last time you can remember just sitting and daydreaming? I was recently sitting in a doctors office waiting to be called in, so I broke out my phone and started playing a game in order to relieve boredom. After a few moments of this, I wondered what I was losing by not allowing myself to just sit there bored. Even if I did not start daydreaming, I might start pondering other things that were going on that could use some thought. For example, is there a better way to rearrange my basement so that it is more organized. Or, what do I plan on doing this spring to prevent that fungus from growing on the backside of the house where it is shaded by the tree and doesn't get much sunlight. Valid needs that might benefit from a little pondering.
When we lived in Germany, I used the time when I and my son were traveling places on the bus or while we were walking into the park to play chess to make him exercise his creativity. I would point out a person who was walking in the distance and ask him what their background was or if two people were sitting talking, what they might be talking about. There were no limits to the content of the answers; several times I found that we were surrounded by aliens, foreign agents from other lands, and a very alive Elvis hiding amongst us all dressed as a little old lady with a cane. It might sound silly, but it helped him to exercise his mind and his ability to see beyond what was visible.
I have always considered having a smartphone available, during a time that might otherwise have been wasted, to be beneficial. You can do email, check on your flight status, or just learn something new. What that phone does not do is allow your mind to be creative – – I'm not talking about simple creation like using letter tiles to create a word for a game but deep creative thinking that requires you to let go of something in your hand and instead grab hold of something that is not concrete but is infinite. We need time to let the mind return to default mode.
Much has been written about people taking days off from technology or escaping from being plugged in. A very valid consideration, in fact, I used to take Wednesday nights off from both TV and all other electronics, except a radio, when I was in Kuwait. But I'm not talking about something so drastic. Just once a day, rather than pulling your phone out to check it or to play a game while you have a few idle moments consider staring out the window for the same period of time. Allow your mind to take over in default mode and enjoy a daydream; failing that just take a few moments to think about something going on in your life that needs a few extra moments of thought. Not something emotional, but something concrete that you might be able to solve by giving it consideration. I think you might be surprised to the result. Be Ralph Phillips.
Who knows, the mind that might've cured cancer instead was playing Candy Crush during the 30-minute train ride to work instead of letting their mind return to its default setting.