The Business Benefits of Rest & Relaxation Part 1: Insight
Have you ever been told that you work too hard? If you have, here’s one more reason to ensure that you lead a balanced life: working too hard can be bad for your business.
We all know the feeling of insight. You’re stumped on some problem, then in some idle moment when you least expect it, a-ha!, inspiration strikes and you suddenly have a solution. I’ve solved some of my toughest problems in the shower, or taking a walk. Archimedes famously cried out “Eureka!” when having an insight while getting into the bathtub. The Nobel-prize winning physicist Richard Feynman’s favourite spot to relax and seek scientific inspiration was the local strip club.
We’re often taught to focus to solve a problem, but if you get stuck on something, unfocusing and letting your mind wander is the best way to allow inspiration to strike. A Zen expert trained to focus his mind was having great difficulty solving problems designed by scientists to require insight. Then, just before giving up, he tried directing his mind to relax, and he surprised everyone by suddenly solving the puzzles faster than anyone else had.
What’s happening up in the brain is that when you’re relaxed, your unconscious brain is still hard at work making all sorts of random connections and associations. When it comes across something that it recognizes as an insight, it reports back to your conscious brain, and you think, a-ha!
The overworked and overstressed lifestyle typical of small businesses can make it harder to have real insights. Leading a lifestyle balanced with work and relaxation will allow you to get the day-to-day tasks done, without handicapping your ability to generate ideas that can take your business to the next level.
You can hear Jonah Lehrer talk more about this here. Next time, we’ll continue this by discussing another way a balanced lifestyle can improve your memory and make you smarter.