This is not an article on how to bake the best bread in the world. It’s not even about cooking or nutrition. It is something more material and philosophical at the same time, and it says something very simple: when your life gets messed up and you don’t even feel like going out for a run, get into bread baking. It also applies to apple pie or building a model sailing ship with your child or grandchild. In short, it says: don’t think, do something. Which then Yoda would also say, and Yoda is always right.
Have you ever noticed that we say “having thoughts” but less often “doing thoughts”? In fact, the thoughts or what is going on in your head is produced spontaneously rather than being governed by your will. Surely you must have been in the grip of some obsessive or recurring thought yourself, right? The high school graduation exam, choosing the color of the new car, what running shoes to buy. Joking aside, the kind and amount of thinking we can do will astound you. They calculated that your brain processes between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts each day, from the simplest to the most emotionally complex. We all do it and we do it so often that it is inevitable to think that everything we think is true. While observing our lives, the mind is a very powerful source not only of reworking reality but also of processing, of creating reality itself. It is so prolific that sometimes it makes us believe that what it thinks is also real. A thought can take on unmanageable dimensions until you get it out of your head and put it to the test of reality.
Doing something material instead forces you to focus your attention on a material process that requires concentration.
In short, the brain can be your great ally as well as your very powerful enemy.
It can motivate you and push you to do things you never thought you could do but it can also convince you of the exact opposite: that you are incapable of doing anything. Or it can also simply be messy-a tumult of thoughts and emotions, a storm of to-do’s and deadlines and accidents that only end up sending him into a tailspin. Then the television is there waiting for you, inviting like a long-sought embrace.
But don’t give in! It is precisely in these moments that you have to do the perhaps least spontaneous thing: you have to get into things exactly when you would like to relax to have some respite.
I for one make bread. Some people bake cakes, some crochet, some fix bicycles, some make sailboats.
What all these activities have in common is that they require:
2. are monotasking.
Every day we are multitasking: answering the phone while preparing dinner, writing emails while walking, reading the newspaper while standing in line at the bank.
I have come to envy surgeons because they cannot be multitasking by contract. But it also applies to train drivers (I hope so at least).
I don’t want to go so far as to crusade against technology. They would make me look like an insufferable old geezer and especially show that I didn’t understand that we are going in that direction now. I don’t even hide the fact that multitasking has a lot of positives: there are a thousand things that can be done along with others, and technology has freed up forces that had no other way to express themselves.
Sometimes you really have to disconnect, though. When the brain goes into burn-out, that is, when it is literally melting from the computational load you are burdening it with you have to intervene by making it relax. In short, making it do one thing that totally absorbs it.
This has to be physical though. It’s not worth thinking of just one thing because then you know it: it attacks everything with it.
You need to give it a good game that keeps it engaged, as would happen with a hyperkinetic child. You have to keep it focused on doing one thing that absorbs it, at least for a while.
The benefits are undeniable: even giving it a half-hour respite allows it to cool down, and the great thing is that there are a thousand things to do: DIY, learning to play an instrument, cooking.
Because the brain is insidious: since it feels so important, it also makes you believe that only if you use it you are good. Instead you have to take back control: it is certainly important, but you are in charge. Now there is rest. Now the bread is made. Or the sailing ship. Or you play the cello.
In short: now you do something, without thinking.