Have you ever thought about that natural element of curiosity we all share? Movie clips are designed to pique this very human desire to know more, to know the story, what happened and what does it mean? Many times when I see these clips before the main attraction, I hear whispers of “I want to see that one!” echoing my own thoughts. We aren’t taught to foster this inclination, at least in the traditional educational settings I experienced. Yet there is a real benefit in getting curious and having fun with following that state of wonder to see what we can learn.
In a recent article in Science of Mind magazine, Mark Waldman and Andrew Newburg, M.D., both neuroscientists talk about how this natural tendency toward curiosity keeps our brains healthy, flexible and producing feel-good chemicals like dopamine. Dopamine can feel like a rush of euphoria, and you can learn more about its other effects, here: http://dopamineproject.org/dopamine/
“Celebrate curiosity because it is one of the most powerful brain-enhancing activities you can engage in.”
– Waldman and Newburg
We can, without guilt, learn to seek out novel experiences and try different approaches to enhance brain health as a byproduct, and allow the joy we feel in the newly stimulating activity be our primary incentive. Most of the people I know have crammed their schedules so full of responsible tasks for their career and as caregiving adults they rarely indulge in play. Play can be extremely restorative to our emotions and bodies, as we shift focus and get more physically active. It simply is not natural to sit in front of a computer screen for hours without taking play breaks.
In fact, Waldman and Newburg highly recommend allowing ourselves to drift into and out of everyday consciousness when reading or watching training videos, for example. This improves our ability to learn new skills and absorb new information more effectively. They suggest writing down the information we enjoy most after such a session. By training our minds to go back and forth several times an hour from focused concentration and brief periods of relaxation, we can lower stress levels and boost productivity. By allowing ourselves to daydream, for even 30 seconds, we allow the brain to refresh, release dopamine and keep the neurochemicals of concentration from being depleted.
I tried this, using my curiosity and imagination recently. I wondered what it would be like to board a “cosmic train” that would take me anywhere I wanted to go at the speed of thought. Imagine…we can go anywhere and see whatever we want to see in a thirty-second break.
I invite you to try this the next time you are working through a long document or project that becomes tedious. Where would you like to go and what would you see? Go ahead. It’s great for your brain, and may also lead you to more innovative solutions than you might otherwise allow.
Here are a few imagination prompts to help you get started—some “what if?” questions that are pointed in a positive direction:
- What if I could fly anywhere, where would I go?
- What if I had a superpower for the afternoon, which would I choose?
- What if I could trade places with anyone in the world, with whom would I trade?
- What if I knew I absolutely would succeed in any endeavor, what would I do differently?
We have been gifted by our creator with these amazing tools of imagination, curiosity and creativity to have unlimited experiences and adventures—and doing so is beneficial to our health. For those responsible for innovating, there is nothing better than using imagination often. Like any muscle, it gets stronger with use. There is no reason not to indulge in a little virtual reality today, created with our own powerful minds. What if we created something amazing?