Turns out that your brain is wired for “focus” or “creativity,” depending on your mood.
I was listening to a TED talk by design critic, Don Norman, this morning.
He told a story about a researcher who invited a group of people into her classroom, where they found 2 strings hanging from the ceiling. Nearby there was a table with paper and scissors and other odds and ends on top.
As the group gathered in the room, she would explain to them that this was an IQ test, and that their score would impact their success or failure in life. The “test” was to tie the two strings together.
With a hanging string grasped in one hand, the “test subjects,” no matter how far they reached, couldn’t quite grasp the other hanging string. It was just out of reach and they couldn’t solve the dilemma.
The researcher would then invite a second group of people into her classroom and hand them a box of chocolates, explaining that they had been given to her, but that she wasn’t a big chocolate fan…would they like some?
Folks would accept and eat the chocolates, and feel happy! What a great way to start the day: A gift! And chocolates, at that!
The researcher would then introduce the 2 strings, and explain the goal: tie the two strings together.
The chocolate-eating test subjects would solve the problem.
Norman explained that the different results were determined by the anxiety and/or happiness of the two groups of test subjects.
When you are anxious, your body squirts neurotransmitters into your brain, which helps you to focus, granting you “depth” of thought.
When you are happy, on the other hand (called positive valence), your body squirts dopamine into the prefrontal lobes of your brain, and this grants you “breadth” of thinking. “Breadth” of thought allows you to think outside of the box, tapping into your creativity, and makes problem solving easier.
So, what does this have to do with business or the business of living?
It has been said that if you “follow your bliss, the money will follow.” That’s great, if you’re in a situation where you either are, or can readily follow your bliss. But, if you’re not following your bliss, what can you do to change that?
Start small and work outward from there.
If being happy fosters creative problem solving and anxiety leads to tunnel vision, then I figure it’s worth the time and effort to pay attention to the little things that bring you joy.
Go ahead and wear that funky tie; who cares what your family thinks – paint that room lime green; if you’ve always wanted short hair, cut it!
Do the little things that make you happy every day, whether it’s expressing your individuality through clothing, color, music or design – or rearranging your office or living space to include more of what you love and less of what you don’t – every little bit makes a difference.
If’ it’s lifting your mood, it’s squirting you with dopamine and opening up that flow of creative energy! And who knows where that can lead you!
So, if you’ve got lucky socks, wear ‘em and let the pep in your step take you to the next level!