Feed Your Brain
There’s this Starbucks that I like to go to on the weekends. In order to get there, I have to take a train, and a streetcar. From the station near my apartment to the main station downtown is seven minutes. From the streetcar stop to the stop just in front of Starbucks is about 8 minutes. If I hurry, I usually get off the train, leave the station, cross the big street and catch the streetcar in about three minutes. From my apartment to the station is about two minutes.
So If I time it right, leaving my apartment just in time to catch the train, and going from the train station to the streetcar stop without issue, my door to door time from my apartment to Starbucks is about twenty minutes. Not bad considering my apartment is located in an area that could easily be considered the boonies, as there are several large fields and open areas, and Starbucks is smack in the middle of downtown, surrounded by high rise buildings.
Coming back is a complete different system. From Starbucks back to the main station is about a 30-minute walk, if I take my time, and 20 minutes if I huff it. Huffing it isn’t all that exciting, so I usually leave at least thirty minutes before I want to catch the train. Between Starbucks and the main station is this long, covered, no cars allowed shopping arcade, with all kinds of stores ranging from casinos and video game centers to comic book stores to bars and cafÃ©’s.
One think I like to do is to waste time in a controlled manner. Obviously, if I lose track of time, and I only have twenty minutes or so, I don’t have time to stop and window shop, or flirt with whatever girls I may see. I have to walk in a straight line, looking straight ahead, with my mind on the time.
But when I leave earlier, I can afford to wander around like a pinball, bouncing back and forth across the road from shop to shop. A kind of planned time of no plans, or planned spontaneity, if you will. I know what time I need to leave, I know what time I need to arrive at the main station, but I have zero plans for what I will do in between. Only that I will slowly move from point A to point B with out any predetermined path.
I was reading this book on relationships once. Actually it was a book on communication in general, but the particular section I was reading was on relationships. One of the complaints that many people have when their relationship gets passed the “honeymoon” stage is that it gets boring and predictable. While certainly not the only cause, being bored in a relationship is reason enough for some to turn an eye elsewhere for excitement.
One thing that the book suggested was to have some planned spontaneity. Many couples, especially couples with kids, recognize the importance of having “date night” where they do something that they used to do before they settled down and have kids. Unfortunately, many times this “date night” is the same boring, predictable thing that they do again and again, like see a movie, or go out to dinner. While it’s good to get away from the kids once in a while, if you are moving out of one boring and predictable situation into another, it sometimes doesn’t really help out that much.
What this book suggested was planning some kind of activity where you don’t know what is going to happen next. You know you’ll leave the house at 6, and come home at 10, but if you can structure your “date night” so that you don’t really know what’s going to happen, it can have a much more positive effect on your relationship. Of course many people are afraid to try this, as they fear they will fall into the “I dunno, what do you want to do?” trap where they oscillate back and forth for two hours before settling on something just to settle on something.
But what this particular book recommended was to purpose give yourself a starting point and an ending point, and a specified amount of time to travel from one end to the other, or in a loop as the case may be. Like up and down a boardwalk, or around a mall you’ve never been to, or through an area of downtown you’ve never been to at night.
The rationale behind these ideas is that the human mind is set up to always crave new experiences. We learn more of our behaviors by either modeling others and trial and error. If the brain wasn’t set up to always crave new experiences, it would be impossible to learn anything. That’s why movies, TV shows, books, and even gossip is so popular. It’s like candy for the brain. If we don’t involve ourselves in new experiences, the brain starts to crave artificially created ones.
And one powerful way to create a relationship, or to strengthen an existing one is to experience new things together. If you think of all the strong friendships you’ve forged throughout your life, it was likely through a common, and new experience. School, clubs, work, armed forces are all places that we naturally form life long friendships, in large part because we share a common and new experience, the emphasis being on the new.
There’s a reason you don’t become friends with that guy you bump into at the donut shop (or wherever) every morning. While buying your morning donut is a common experience, it isn’t new, so that bond isn’t created.
If you can structure new experiences with somebody you’re already in a relationship with, it can have a profound effect. The more new and unique, exciting and emotionally stimulating the experience is, the deeper the bond will be.
While wandering around downtown might not seem that new and exciting, you can do it in a different way, or go a different direction, or even make it a point to try a new restaurant every week. That way you can get into the mindset of exploring something new together, rather than just getting away together.
And even if you’re not in a relationship, doing something new and interesting where you play it by ear for just a little bit can also have a positive impact on your creativity and perspective. Something to think about next time you’re deciding what to do on a Saturday night.
For more ideas on how to take charge of your brain, and your experience for wild success in any area of life, check out the link below.