The Apple genius Steve Jobs allegedly had a habit which neuroscience suggest is a trigger for creativity.
According to Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson, the mastermind of Apple’s success used a trick familiar to many of us to spark his ideas.
It’s that simple.
Jobs was not alone among successful individuals in indulging in the long walk as a form of mental exercise.
American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to his nephew Peter Carr, advised long walks and to clear the mind of anything.
“Never think of taking a book with you. The object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore not permit yourself even to think while you walk; but divert your attention by the objects surrounding you…A little walk of half an hour, in the morning, when you first rise, is advisable also. It shakes off sleep, and produces other good effects in the animal economy.”
The advice is also recommended by Olivia Fox Cabana and Judah Pollack, authors of The Net and the Butterfly: The Art and Practice of Breakthrough Thinking.
If we had to choose one single mindless activity for you to do, it would be walking.
Walking lowers blood pressure, and disengages the mind from fixating on problems, allowing for more free association – also known as being creative.
A study by Stanford University in 2014 found that a long walk would boost creativity by 60 per cent.
176 participants in the study were asked to think of novel analogies, and the creativity test examined their level of ‘divergent’ thinking after a long walk, compared to sitting or walking indoors.
It found that 100 per cent of those who walked outside could create at least one novel analogy when given a prompt, compared to just 50 per cent of those seated indoors.
Biologists at Yale have even suggest that the connection between walking and creativity is down to humankind’s early evolution as nomadic hunter gatherers, constantly on the move.