Reading Stolen Focus by Johann Hari 📚, the author discusses the “Disruption of Mind Wandering” in Chapter 5 and how we tend to consider mind wandering negative. Yet, the author explains, it’s part of how we learn and create.
“Creativity is not where you create some new thing that’s emerged from your brain.” “It’s a new association between two things that were already there.” Mind-wandering allows “more extended trains of thought to unfold, which allows for more associations to be made.” - Stolen Focus p96
While this is nothing new, it caught my attention because I am a daydreamer. Ever since I was a kid, I would get in trouble for not paying attention. I suppose my excuse now is, “I’m creating something!”.
Mind wandering is a necessary part of how our brains work. For example, as we read, we focus on the words. Our mind tries to make connections to the ideas we’re reading about. We may think of past experiences, related reading, or even contradictions. This is precisely what we should be doing. This part of reading helps us learn and make sense of things.
Of course, we can easily take our minds wandering too far when we’re trying to read but keep thinking about checking Twitter or what’s for dinner. In these cases, we’re getting into distraction territory.