Quantum Wonder? Self-Reflection for Over Thinkers

 
Heady with the pursuit of new. We read, research, strive. We plan, build, create. Occasionally finding blank spots, points of uncertainty, even frustration. But no worries. For there will always be another scholarly work to study, another creative decision to analyze, another pat on the back for NEVER giving up.
— We are innovators. Drunk with over-thinking.

Over-thinkers come in all sizes and shapes.

Perhaps you are a creator, with dozens of unfinished masterpieces. Or an innovator whirling between scattered entrepreneurial ideas. A writer who over-edits one tiny article while juggling novel, memoir, and business plan. Or, simply a human-learning-machine eagerly absorbing the wonders of the world. 

But what happens when all of your dazzling thoughts loop too fast...too long. Perhaps even, if we dare admit it...too shakily? Something altogether different than a simple information gap. Times when we wander and wonder beyond research. 

It's always about transitions.

The old is passing away...the new not yet formed. Relationships, health, and career tumbling against wildly swinging opponents. Yes, our goals and dreams.  And beneath the tumult comes a whisper,  "Pay no attention to the fear behind the door.  You just need to accomplish....ONE. MORE. THING."

But the squeeze of the timepiece is merciless, emptying one agonizing grain at a time. And from inside the hourglass of self-prescribed boundaries, our sense of urgency...and despair...grows.

 Time management - Photo by  Aron Visuals   on   Unsplash
...any life experience, from the traumatic to the joyful, can lead to flexibility and creativity “as long as it diversifies your experiences and pushes you outside your normal thought patterns.
— Sara Briggs, How to Make Connections Like a Creative Genius 

We are far too adept at keeping our brains engaged.

Diversified experiences?  Piece of cake. Stepping away from normal thought patterns? Catch 22. Because THINKING is our pattern.  From Project A to Project B.  From Problem X to Problem Y.  How do we step away from that which we call...life?

And why would we want to?

 Simply not productive to explore in the other direction.

Feelings, emotions...ugh. Ratlike characters that do not belong in a domestic hall of knowledge.

But eventually we can no longer bypass those creepy rodents.  The answers are not in facts. Research. Or just plain true-grit. Although we cannot yet understand the means by which this wisdom has slipped into our cells, our inquisitive nature at last must agree... to look in

 

Turning inward. Finding a good fit. 

How does a logical rational overthinker choose..uh....er...gulp...a personal growth tool? Here's what it looked like for me.

Meditation? Too much stillness. Sheer torture.

Dance, theater, the arts? Too expressive, too dramatic. Ew.

Support groups, counseling? Discussing my private life with strangers...I'd rather be poked in the eye with a sharp stick. 

Journal writing? I'm thinking.

1)Practiced at home, maybe even in pajamas. 2)No face to face encounters with mushy emoters. 3)Aligned with my lifelong wonder at the power of words.

Check, check, and check. (It seems clear now, but my decision was far from easy, story here). 

In the interest of science, I conducted a seven year study

A seven year study that slowly and subtly evidenced a shift.

  • From controlling life through acquired knowledge
  • To a balance of research and reflection.

Yes....personal reflection.  The icky sticky feeling kind (eventually, it came).  Because how can we claim to be innovators, creative observers of life, if we shut our eyes to a whole body of research? 

How do my results stack up against science?


 JOURNAL WRITING BENEFITS FOR OVER THINKERS-A SEVEN YEAR STUDY

 

1.  Journal writing increases clarity, and thus, the ability to manage time. 

PERSONAL RESEARCH:  Since my mind-clutter was committed onto the page each morning, I found that I had more clarity the rest of the day.  With clarity, every moment spent exploring my pursuits was optimized. Making it feel as if I actually had more time, not less.  Even after a full day of work, and despite chronic physical discomfort.

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH:  Intentional self efficacy, as a learned and practiced strategy results in superior performance outcomes.

2.  Staying constantly busy is an avoidance strategy, eventually detrimental to health.

PERSONAL RESEARCH: Scribbled pages revealed that I had been avoiding the impact of significant life events. Once I learned that, "I'm in control, no big deal", is a total copout, my cells poured forth hidden words. Chronic conditions began to peel away: fatigue, viruses, intestinal pain, food sensitivities, muscle and nerve dysfunction, and crippling insomnia. Because my physical brain (and body) could finally relax. No longer needing to guard information that should have been witnessed in the moment.

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH: Physiology responds to thoughts. Active and expressive awareness of this scientific fact shows the following benefits.  Reduction in anxiety, physical symptoms, and doctor visits. Also, higher t-cell growth, better liver function, and stronger antibody responses to hepatitis B vaccinations and Epstein-Barr virus.

3.  Feelings (or lack of) aren't carved in stone. It's all physics. 

PERSONAL RESEARCH: Memories of experiences always hold feelings. First, I had to acknowledge their existence.  Then I had to start naming them.  It was pretty uncomfortable.  But as I learned to be a non-judging observer, labels softened, then transformed. How did this happen?

It's all physics: Every memory is a particle, not destined to remain stuck in the past, but forever connected to our consciousness. Try as we can to push them into unobserved cellular hideaways, they are intimately entangled with our, habits, our health, and our dreams. Spooky wisdom at a distance?  You decide.

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH:    Actions performed on one...affect the other. Even when separated by great distances. 

4. Written self reflection boosts creativity and innovation in all forms. Even some new ones you never expected.

PERSONAL RESEARCH:  Once I learned to identify my primary story, "You will only be okay if you learn, grow, strive, and achieve," I realized that I almost never lived in the moment. So I rephrased that beastly story as a collaborator.  A signal that it's time to play. 

I never expected to adopt painting, poetry, and art journals. But I have learned that colors, images and lyrical ramblings speak in the language of science in ways that typical writing can't.  And just as the ability to speak multiple languages expands intelligence, the ability to speak art stretches to every area of life. As a bonus, it is a perfect place to work out other hidden fears. A perfect spiral...back to my journal.

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH: It all connects: “many creative people are polymaths, people with broad interests in many fields–a common trait among my study subjects.”

5.  Overthinkers need A LOT of tools at their disposal to keep the freshness of journal writing alive.  

PERSONAL RESEARCH:  It took years before I hit oh-oh days of wondering what to write. Only when the novelty of discovering extra time, wisdom, and creative innovation had settled into a peaceful hum of existence.  Sure it was great to sleep so well, and feel more myself than ever...but I knew I had to up the game if I wanted to discover my blind spots. 

So I built a tool kit that intertwines creativity with my daily written journal process. Seven years and counting, and I'm still finding newness each day.

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH: The idea is to balance linear thinking—which requires intense focus—with creative thinking...


Which Brings Us to The Art of Quantum Wonder

The Art of Quantum Wonder is one human's ramblings on the process of daily reflection.  A way to join with other inquisitive creators in a shared journey.  Doing what we do best, asking questions of life. Every single day. And then translating these questions into better selves and a better world. Perhaps Leo's simple eloquence says it best....

 
Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.
— Leonardo da Vinci
Teresa Howard