But in that statement is a gem of counterintuitive advice. “Do not.”
A huge fallacy in the learning process is that we have to constantly be studying information. From the first day of school, we’re deluged with an endless stream of facts and forced to memorize everything mindlessly.
It’s a very shallow, surface level method of learning.
I believe part of this has to do with the relentless action-taking credo of today’s society. There’s this idea that success is constant, never-ending work.
It’s Workaholism 101. “You were here until 11 last night? Oh yeah, well I stayed past midnight!!!” We think of overworking and under-sleeping as a badge of honor when it’s the worst possible for our health, relationships, and career.
To think of it as food, we’re basically being taught to stuff our faces until our stomachs explode.
Take exercise. When you work out, what’s happening is you’re breaking down and tearing apart muscles which will then grow back stronger. But that’s ONLY if you have that crucial recuperation period. Constantly working out just causes injury (SNAP!).
Well, the brain is the same way. Would it surprise you if I told you the brain is most active when you’re sleeping? Because IT IS (scout’s honor). Scientific studies have shown this to be true. So a brain at rest isn’t necessarily a brain that’s regressing.
Think about those times you found a solution to difficult, perplexing problems (a.k.a . on the tip of my tongue syndrome). You most likely found it when you were doing something like showering, washing the dishes, or brushing your teeth. Moments when you’re not actively thinking. Which is actually productive thinking (mind blown!).
Of course I have to stress that this way of learning only works if you’ve been active! Please don’t think that being more of a couch potato is going to lead you to a Ph.D.
When I first thought of this concept I had flashbacks to when I was in college. I remember I would play my best piano one or two weeks after juries (live music exams) had ended. And this was on top of not even touching the piano the entire time! The key to successful performance was right at my fingertips (no pun intended) and I mistook it for a fluke.
But don’t limit this to just practice, work or learning. Think of relationships with your family, friends or significant other. When’s the last time you shared quality time? Even when I see people spending time with each other they’re still constantly doing something. Watching media, television, or doing work side by side. When’s the last time you shut everything down and enjoyed each other’s pure presence?
Don’t get me wrong. Your success in life depends on action, MASSIVE action. But the thing is, you need periods of self-introspection to evaluate if you’re doing the right things that will lead you to where you want to go.
So take time to smell the roses. Stop what you’re doing once in a while and allow yourself to pause for some deep contemplation. Sit and listen. The feedback you will get is gold. Then apply it and get back to your course of action.