science | May 12, 2013

Mind Break: Maria Konnikova On Unlocking Creative Potential

While memories of being read Sherlock Holmes as a child always seemed to pop up throughout her life, science speaker Maria Konnikova says it wasn't until fairly recently that she re-read the books in their entirety. And when she did, she recalls being "absolutely flabbergasted at how many psychological concepts I recognized in Conan Doyle's writing." In an interview featured on Scientific American and hosted by Blog Talk Radio, Konnikova says she eventually started annotating nearly every paragraph in the Sherlock Holmes stories because they were all so relevant to the work she was doing. Not only that, but the Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes author says it was intriguing to find these concepts appearing in work from the end of the 19th century—before psychology had became a "real science."

In the podcast, Konnikova discusses the fascinating insights she uncovered while researching for her book. And, how she discovered a method for translating Holmes' infamous powers of focus and deduction to anyone who wnats to sharpen their own mental prowess. One piece of advice that Konnikova has picked up from studying the fictional detective was the benefit of "mind breaks." Holmes, for example, used to play a violin or smoke his pipe when he was stumped on a case. He never stayed stuck on one problem for very long, Konnikova says. "It can't be something that we are struggling with," she notes. But if we allow ourselves to step outside the problem and work on something else that comes easily to us, we may encounter creative breakthroughs we wouldn't have otherwise. She also notes that taking a walk in nature can help to unlock hidden creative potential.

In the interview, she also explores Holmes' ever-present mindfulness—his ability to be fully engrossed in the moment and see the world around him in a truly unique way. Intriguing revelations like this has earned Mastermind a spot on The New York Times Bestseller List. A doctoral candidate in Psychology at Columbia University and the author of the "Literally Psyched" column for Scientific American, Konnikova translates her book into customizable talks. Whether you are curious about how to sharpen your perceptions, solve difficult problems, or enhance your creative powers, Konnikova can show you how anyone can think like Holmes.

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social change | May 09, 2013