“My brain is not a brain that does well with downtime. So if I have a lot of down time, it will start out like ‘You’ve had a really rewarding career’ and end up with ‘You’ve failed everyone that ever loved you.‘ Jon Stewart
The rainforest-minded brain needs intellectual stimulation. If it doesn’t get to ponder, analyze, question, and create, it might resort to rumination, as in Jon Stewart’s case, or to arguing over petty situations or ideas, as in the gifted child you have at home’s case. Granted, you may be a prize winning worrier in general, but without the intellectual gymnasium, anxiety is inevitable.
One blog reader put it this way: “It took me far too long to realise that if I don’t feed my brain good things to chew on, it just… chews. Sometimes on bits of me, often it gets very anxious, or I overthink ridiculous, trivial things. My brain needs a high calorie diet of things to chew on, and when I feed it properly it’s a much happier organ and it works better. It helps if there are people inclined to be excited about whatever I’m currently excited about, …. I need challenges and to learn new things and to be puzzled and have to figure stuff out…”
It’s important you know this so you don’t get all self-critical because people tell you that you ‘can’t relax’ or ‘you need to chill’ or ‘why can’t you just be satisfied with good enough.’ They may not understand that it is your nature to be driven to learn and create. That curiosity is your extreme sport. That you just don’t do chill.
I am terrible at chill. But I don’t care. Anymore. I used to think I was supposed to be cool. Not so deep. Not so driven. But now I’m good with being terrible at chill. And I’m determined to help you love your un-chilliness too.
Naturally, I want you to learn how to relax, how to soothe your nervous system, how to worry less. But that is different from feeding your mind palace with high calorie nutrition so it is happier, works better, and doesn’t chew on you. That is different from your need to analyze the problem from seven different directions and click on every hyperlink that leads you down the next rabbit hole. That is different from your capacity to grok how seemingly disparate ideas are truly all connected. That is different from your capacity to score poorly on multiple choice tests because you can prove how all of the answers are correct. That is different from your creative imagination, intuitive insights, and multipotentiality that inspire you to leave your lucrative career as an architect to become a yoga instructor who plays the cello in the local symphony and is studying chaos theory on the side while dancing the Argentine tango on alternate Tuesdays.
So, my dearest rainforest-minders, if your brain does not do well with down time, do not despair.
Join me. And Jon Stewart.
We shall be terrible at chill, together.
To my bloggEEs: How does your brain do with down time? Let us know. And thank you to the reader who inspired this post. Sending you all much love and appreciation!