“Yet it is in our idleness,
in our dreams,
that the submerged truth
sometimes comes to the top. “
~ Virginia Woolf
The results of housework are all too fleeting.
You spend your time performing boring tasks and before long, they need doing again. There’s not much scope for any earth-shattering achievements, right?
A surprising side effect of monotonous jobs is the activation of your creative mind.
The ‘mindless’, ‘empty-headed’ state that comes from boring jobs is actually a fertile ground for creative thought, intuition, problem-solving, even flashes of genius.
This productive state is known as the alpha state – which is brain-speak for a deeply relaxed mental state. It occurs during daydreaming, idle reflection, and just before and after sleep.
And during housework.
Contrary to expectations, when we switch off our brains, we don’t become witless zombies. We are actually primed to tap inner sources of inventiveness and imagination.
According to the New York Times, neuroscientists have found that even when the brain is disengaged, it is still highly active. And this activity operates on a higher level to everyday thinking. This downtime for your brain actually gives you access to intelligence which is denied to the busy, conscious mind.
Stilling the mind sets the mental scene for your greatest ideas.
For proof of this, think of when and where the great minds had their light-bulb moments…
• Archimedes was in the bath (highly relaxed) when he shouted ‘Eureka!’
• Einstein was out walking (moving meditation) when he discovered the theory of relativity.
• Newton was chilling out under an apple tree (brain downtime) when the law of gravity struck him (literally).
You may even have had your own Eureka moments.
Have you ever struggled with a problem or dilemma, only to have the answer ‘pop into your head’ when you were doing some mundane activity? The brain is particularly receptive to inspiration and creativity during unchallenging, ‘brainless’ tasks – having a shower, driving, washing-up.
This very book is a case in point – the idea for it occurred to me as I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor.
And I’m in good company – Agatha Christie, a prolific imaginer, famously remarked,
A bored mind is also susceptible to intuition. Women are renowned for their ability to tap into this unknown element (which curiously, and wonderfully, seems to always have our best interest at heart).
This may be a gender thing, but it may also be linked to the fact that women have traditionally spent the majority of their time in the home, raising children, building nests. These quiet, contemplative activities are the kind that scientists now believe connect us to some universal intelligence, aka intuition.
It would seem, then, that there is merit in boredom. It can be a prelude to creativity, problem-solving and innovation.
So if domestic boredom is a feature of your life – don’t fight it. Even if you can’t bring yourself to embrace it, at least turn it to good use. Though to the outside world you may look like you’re just dusting and vacuuming, inside your mind, powerful forces are at work.
And these forces are not only conducive to creative inspiration, they also trigger the information sorting part of the brain.
So you’re not only straightening up your house – you’re performing crucial filing-work in your mind, too.
(This is an extract from the Boredom section of Housework Blues – A Survival Guide)
• • •
“… worth a million how-to-clean books,
can’t recommend it more highly.”
~ Amazon review for Housework Blues.