Home » Blogs » The Creative Mind » Idleness and Being Creative – Part 2

Idleness and Being Creative – Part 2

[Continued from Part 1]

Idleness by John William GodwardLawton Ursery, quoted earlier, writes in his Forbes magazine article Your Brain Unplugged: Proof That Spacing Out Makes You More Effective:

“We’re taught that taking on more is better—it makes us more valuable. The reality is that doing too many things makes us less efficient.”

He notes that Andrew Smart, whom he interviewed, “argues that our ‘culture of effectiveness’ is not only ineffective, but it can be harmful to your well-being. Andrew says that in order to be more creative and more engaged, we need to unplug.”

Smart refers to research by neurologist Marcus Raichle, who “found that when subjects performed specific tasks, activity in certain brain regions, like the hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex, and the precuneus, was suppressed.

“This was an odd conclusion, so Raichle decided to test further subjects but didn’t give them a specific task to complete.”

Ursery explains, “The result was that the exact same regions that deactivated during concentration become super active when not focused on a specific task—this means increased blood flow in your brain—this means a healthier, happier, more creative brain.

“In neuroscience, this network of brain regions that become so active during idleness is referred to as the Default Mode Network (DMN) or the Resting State Network (RSN).”

Andrew Smart is author of Autopilot: The Art & Science of Doing Nothing.

Our drifting mind

Cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman refers in his book to research by neuroscientist Kalina Christoff who thinks we may learn to “accept our drifting mind as a normal, even necessary, part of our mental existence.”

Kaufman also refers to the specific brain network referred to as “task negative,” “resting,” or “default,” which “is heavily involved in the inner stream of consciousness.”

Scott Barry Kaufman is Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute; a researcher in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined.

Painting: Idleness by John William Godward, Oil on canvas 1900 – from the Art Renewal Center.

A final quote:

“It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.” – Virginia Woolf

~ ~ ~ ~

Idleness and Being Creative – Part 2

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
~ ~
Some excerpts from The Creative Mind are included in his newsletter .
~ ~

Emotional Health Resources - Programs, books, articles and sites to improve your emotional wellbeing.

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Eby, D. (2014). Idleness and Being Creative – Part 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 9, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Aug 2014
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.