Einstein once stated “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Mindfulness cultivates a different perspective and a new way of thinking. Research is showing that mindfulness increases focus, problem solving, and logical thinking by allowing ourselves to focus on creative work with a clear, non-distracted mind.
1. Increased Divergent thinking & Creativity
A study from Butler University portrayed the correlation between Mindfulness and Creativity. More specifically, how mindfulness promotes divergent thinking, which is associated with creativity.
Divergent thinking is roughly defined as, a cognitive process in which a person generates many new, unique, creative ideas. It’s used in thought processes involving brainstorming sessions. On the other hand, convergent thinking is roughly the opposite. It involves a person coming up with a single, correct response to a problem.
This demonstrates that Mindfulness fosters divergent thinking rather than convergent thinking. Mindfulness allows people to create unique ideas in order to cultivate their creative mindset. It was also shown to reduce anxiety and strengthen insight problem solving ability.
2. Better Problem Solving Skills
A different study, found here, demonstrated that people who practiced Mindfulness Meditation on a regular basis reduced their cognitive rigidity. In other words, the meditators were more likely to find the easiest answer to a problem despite past experience with more difficult ways to solve the same problem.
The same study gave a group of meditators and a group of non-meditators a series of difficult problems to solve. Both groups used complex problem solving skills to solve them. Later, they gave both groups a new set of much simpler problems. The meditators came up with the simple, novel approach to solving them, while the non-meditators tended to hold on to their past experience and used their previous complex problem solving skills to solve a simple problem. Thus, they solved it inefficiently and with a higher cognitive rigidity than experienced meditators.
This demonstrates that non-meditators tend to overlook simple novel solutions to a situation due to rigid and repetitive thought patterns formed through past experience. Thus, hindering efficiency and problem solving skills. Mindfulness teaches the brain to see the present situation as it is, rather than holding on to past experiences and biases. Without us ever knowing it, a mindfulness practice subconsciously builds a strong epistemic foundation.
3. Communicate More Effectively
Communication is substantial in effective growth. Whether you’re writing blog posts, inventing a new product, or photographing a landmark, communicating your efforts is arguably just as important as creating the content itself. When stressed, our ability to communicate deteriorates. Mindfulness has been shown to increase the thickness of the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with the functions in the brain related to calming ourselves down or relaxing ourselves in the midst of chaos.
Mindfulness teaches our minds to be calm in situations of hyperactivity, rather than trying to follow and control everything.
4. Eliminate Worry
In moments of uncertainty our default state of mind is worry. Mindfulness teaches you to control your emotions, increasing your self awareness and ability to seek effective solutions. It encourages clearer decisions that aren’t swayed by emotion and fear.
Mindfulness allows us to:
- Seek a sufficient amount of knowledge before we worry
- Weigh all of the facts before we make a decision
- Take action on our decisions
- Stop thinking about the outcomes and instead, stay present
- Relax in moments of difficulty
- Count our blessings instead of our troubles
5. Increase Focus and Productivity
Mindfulness allows us to concentrate all of our attention on a single act.
When we live in the present moment almost all emotions dissipate. For example, when we eat we just eat. When we drink, we just drink. When we work creatively, we just work creatively, nothing else. Not about the analytics of our business, not about the ratings we haven’t yet gotten, not about what we did wrong in the past. Just focusing on nothing but the task at hand. Seems obvious right? Well not for our minds, which tend to wander and get distracted very easily, usually at the expense of efficiency.
Mindfulness helps us focus on one thing at a time, and not worrying about that meeting that we aren’t prepared for tomorrow, or that semester final that we still need to study for. We can’t do everything at once, if we work in complete mindfulness, productivity and efficiency will skyrocket.
6. Eliminate Distractions
A minute amount of introspection or meditation will demonstrate how chaotic the inner workings of our mind are. Our minds get distracted at the blink of an eye. A single catalyst will jeopardize our entire train of thought and focus. We don’t actually experience reality because we’re either worried about the future or exhibiting regret over what we no longer have control over.
Mindfulness allows us to focus on what truly matters by finding time for the important things in life rather than the urgent, convenient tasks. Helping us unhook from stimulation and focus on the work we’re doing now. As a result, creativity and productivity soar!
How to implement Mindfulness in your day
There are an infinite amount of different ways to implement Mindfulness into your life, some simpler and requiring less work than others. Do one of them, do all of them, it’s up to you.
- Meditate when you wake up in the morning
- Give your complete attention to the present task
- Focus on the feeling of your fingers touching each key, as the words appear into your mind
- Have no more than 3 tabs open in your browser at any single moment in time
- Completely listen to someone as they talk to you, don’t let your mind wander
- Live in the present, and use your problem solving skills to determine the best course of action
- Notice the sounds of everything around you
- Gain awareness of your emotions, simply watch them rather than letting them control you
- Notice the sounds of the present as they enter your awareness
- Walk mindfully, notice the pressure on your feet as you walk
- Eat Mindfully, savor every ounce of food by giving it your complete awareness
- Stop multitasking
- Turn your phone off or on silent
- Just smile, be happy
Just write. Just walk. Just eat. Just give someone your full attention.
Try implementing this into your daily routine or even just a day out of the week. By living in the present moment you can become a creative, efficient, happy, and most importantly a “mindful” individual. We begin to take life up on the opportunity to fully engage with it, with a smile.
As we give each activity our full awareness, we start to appreciate each person, each experience, everything around us as something worthy of respect, compassion, and gratitude.