Slowing down and puttering around

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

Slowing down for even 10 minutes to do nothing or to make art may seem like an indulgence if you don’t have space. Or it may seem like a waste of time when you could be being productive instead. But they are valuable ways you can recharge and reconnect to yourself which allows you to be more productive in the long run. Because the more rundown and busy you are, the less you have to give of yourself and the less productivity you inevitably become.

Courtney Carver from Be More With Less explains “Doing nothing, puttering around, and lingering were all things I considered a waste of time. Even though I’d indulge from time to time, I felt bad about it. As if because I wasn’t actually contributing, I was letting people down.” Shaun Niequist in Present over Perfect says “… the hustle will never make you feel the way you want to feel. In that way it’s a drug, and I fall for the initial rush every time: If I push enough, I will feel whole, I will feel proud, I will feel happy. What I feel though, is exhausted and resentful, but with well organized closets.”

Making art allows you to slow down and spend time with yourself in a way you can’t do when you’re engaging (distracted) with your phone or device. Pico Iyer in a podcast interview with Oprah Winfrey talks of the art of stillness: “In an age of speed I begin to think nothing could be more exhilarating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.” Making art forces you pay attention; to the world outside and to your inner world.

Iyer continues “I think we’re more happy when we forget the time, when we’re completely absorbed in the conversation or movie or piece of music and what we really crave is intimacy… and kindness… If you don’t have time, you don’t have enough kindness in your life. You don’t have the chance to open yourself up.” Being completely absorbed in a task is what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes about in Flow: “The positive aspects of human experience – joy, creativity, the process of total involvement with life I call flow.”

Slowing down and making art is much more important than we realise, or have been taught. Allow yourself to ‘indulge’ in slowing down and reconnect to your creativity so you can come back refreshed and reenergised to your everyday life.

Introversion and recharging your batteries

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connction

In Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The power of Introversion in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, she explains the differences Carl Jung defined between introversion and extroversion. “Introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling… extroverts to the external life of people and activities. Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them; extroverts plunge into the events themselves. Introverts recharge their batteries by being along; extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough.”

It’s often a misconception that introverts will hide away while extroverts are the life of the party. But it’s not about how comfortable you seem socially, it’s about how your energy gets depleted and how you restore it. In an over-stimulated extroverted world where extroverted qualities are encouraged, it’s helpful to know how you get the most drained from your everyday life. The introvert restoration process is a kind of incubation from life – the desire to retreat, to go inward and spend time alone. It can be seen as unsocial but it’s from this retreating process that your energy bars become restored. As Charles Bukowski puts it, “People empty me. I have to get away to refill.”

With many artists creating work on their own, sometimes completely solitary, the skill of drawing from within yourself and making meaning of your world internally is a deep well of inspiration. Cain explains that “Some of our greatest ideas, art, and inventions – from the theory of evolution to Van Gogh’s sunflowers to the personal computer – came from quiet and cerebral people who knew how to tune in two there in the world and the treasures to be found there.”

Michaela Chung in The Year of the Introvert, speaks of her introversion as being a valuable tool for success: “I see that I needed time to grown my inner toolkit so that I could handle the responsibilities and stresses that come with each new level of success.” In a western world that makes a comparison between work and ‘a rat race,’ and ‘hustling’ feels like wearing a badge of honour, slowing down and reflect is becoming evermore important. “Slow down and take your time – the finish line keeps moving until you’re dead; so, you see, there is really no need to rush.”

Not all flowers blossom where and when you want them to. Some plants can only grow under certain conditions… It is the same for introverts. Often, we simply can’t blossom in the soil where we have been planted. To truly come into our own, we need to seek out more solitude and less constant busyness; more meaning and less going through the motions. – Michaela Chung

Even Oprah Winfrey, one our most iconic modern role-models, identifies as an introvert. In her podcast interview with Amy Schumer (March 22, 2018) she shared “I’ve been at parties where I have to get up and leave. I’m just in the bathroom.” The bathroom becomees a place to recharge, a brief rest from the energy-draining experience parties can be. Schumer agrees “[I] Love to hide in the bathroom! Yeah, people are confused about, y’know but how could you get up in front of so many people? I say it’s different and I think when you’re so giving of yourself and your mind and everything, you need to take a break.”

Giving yourself the gift of recharging in whatever way works for you, will ultimately make you a more giving individual.