by Jonah Lehrer

“What explains the creative benefits of relaxation and booze?  The answer involves the surprising advantage of not paying attention.  Although we live in an age that worships focus—we are always forcing ourselves to concentrate, chugging caffeine—this approach can inhibit the imagination.  We might be focused, but we’re probably focused on the wrong answer.

And this is why relaxation helps:  It isn’t until we’re soothed in the shower or distracted by the stand-up comic that we’re able to turn the spotlight of attention inward, eavesdropping on all those random associations unfolding in the far reaches of the brain’s right hemisphere.  When we need an insight, those associations are often the source of the answer.”