The other day, I read something that spoke about neuro scientific research reporting that the average person spends 13 per cent of their time in a frame of mind that is best described as “zoned out.”
At first I felt upset with this information, considering all the wasted time that this indicated my mind wandered. But as I read on, the tone of the article remained upbeat and optimistic. Why? Because these periods where we zone out and don’t have the cognitive awareness we feel we should possess are actually good for us. Yep, it seems they are vital to our being able to stay imaginative and creative. This is the place where our brains free float through what seems like insignificant streams of consciousness.
The reality is that these places of spontaneous thinking are the birth places of creativity and imagination. They are places where our judgmental selves don’t have a chance of surviving so we are free to just let ourselves go. These zone out times permit us to unleash restrictive, rational thought and just allow whatever comes to come.
I have nothing against rational and logical thinking. Far from it. Thinking logically is totally necessary and a good thing. But giving our brains the ability to zone out and just free-flow is equally necessary and provides us with a healthy compliment to routine, structured and rational thoughts.
One of my favorite songsters of all time is Harry Chapin. I hope most of you have heard of him and remember him, not only for the songs that were the most popular like “Taxi” or “Cats in the Cradle” although they were good songs with a message or story to tell too. But the song that comes to mind is called “Flowers are Red,” a song with a wonderful message about society’s traditional response to thinking differently and seeing things through a lens that is different than the one most of us see through.
There is a degree of comfort in knowing we are all alike and zeroing in on all the similarities we share with our fellow human beings, but there is also something extremely worthwhile when we celebrate our differences and our being unique. There is so much we can learn from these differences. We can complement each other because of these differences if we learn how to embrace them and value them.
This is still something I am learning how to do better. Sometimes my knee-jerk reaction is to expect other people to think the way I think or feel the way I feel and I get upset if they don’t. I want to feel more connected to them and I mistakenly think if they are more like me then we are more connected.
Relationships take a lot of work because of the differences. We need to learn how to accept and respect people despite them. Even if we are similar to another person in our beliefs, the times when we have our zone out moments may not be the same. We may be experiencing something quite crucial to us when our most trusted and closest confidant is going through a zone out moment and is unable to be there to understand.
We may be zoned out when our co-worker asks us for our utmost attention or when our son or daughter is facing potential danger.
Nobody said relationships were easy, and with some of the newer finding about human behavior, we are able to better understand ourselves and each other; and hopefully help us deal with each other with more understanding and kindness.
And what better time to start than right now as this holiday season begins?