The Joy of Mindless Pursuits…or How I Get My Best Ideas.

I get it now.  Trainspotting.  Men in anoraks standing on cold railway platforms in the UK.  Its a kind of mindless pursuit, and its very easy to laugh.  But, I believe, everyone needs a mindless pursuit and there’s a lot of more conventional pursuits that could be considered mindless.  Many of us turn to fishing, knitting  or Sudoku when we are stressed.   Gambling in any form.  Baking anyone?   It’s no coincidence that the image at the top of this post is of wool and needles.   Knitting would have to be top of the list of my own mindless pursuits.

The beauty of a mindless pursuit is just  that.  It’s mindless.  The brain  is effectively switched off, out to lunch,  feet up and wine in hand.  Bliss……

So what are the requirements for a mindless pursuit?

I would argue that there are four essentials – Solitude, Silence, Repetition and Time.  Combine these four and there’s a potential for some free flowing brain action, and this is where the ideas come from.   Solitude and silence because the brain to go into autopilot mode, which it can’t do when we’re  busy multi-tasking.  Time because we need to “settle in” to whichever is our go-to activity, and repetition because this is what  helps the mind float free.  The body is busy, and because the activity is repetitive the mind doesn’t need to work hard to control it.  It’s almost like a moving meditation.

Ok, so what’s the big deal here?  Why bother?  Because, for me anyway, this is when the ideas arrive,  sometimes thick and fast. They may  be hopeless, but odds are that somewhere among the mess will be a gem.  And that’s the beauty of it.  Trainspotting anyone?


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