New research suggests that getting away from the emptiness and out into the open air may be a better strategy.
According to an article on the Salon website, a University of Utah scientist realized that his mind felt more flexible and open to new ideas on his backpacking trips in the great outdoors. To test the hypothesis that nature might be an aid to creativity, the scientist teamed up with some colleagues and approached Outward Bound for permission to do some research during lengthy hikes in the wilderness.
The Outward Bound participants were given a standard word association test that asks people to find the connection between three seemingly unrelated words. Half the hikers took the test before starting their expedition, and half took it halfway through. Those who played word association during the trip scored 50 percent better on finding the connections than those who took the test at the beginning.
Whether it’s exposure to nature, or a disconnection from technology, the results indicated that sometimes you’re better off walking away and exploring the world around you when you need ideas, instead of sitting and hoping they come to you.