Repetition and escaping autopilot by using surprise

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

Moving around and interacting with the world is a energy-draining process on your brainpower Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman in The Runaway Species explains “When we make correct predictions, that saves energy.” And that “Repetition makes us more confident in our forecasts and more efficient in our actions.”

The more patterns we can find, the more efficient our brain is because it doesn’t have to use as much power. And the brain loves efficiency over everything else. But creativity thrives on new knowledge and new ways of seeing things. Brandt and Eagleman warn “There’s a problem with a lack of surprise. The better we understand something, the less effort we put into thinking about it. Familiarity breeds indifference. Repetition suppression sets in and our attention wavers.” In order to keep our creativity muscles flexed we have to incorporate novelty and surprise into our lives. “Surprise engages us. It allows us to escape autopilot. It keeps us awake to our experience.”

You don’t have to plan some huge elaborate adventure in order to allow surprise into your life. Regular tiny doses can be just as effective, such as trying new food, reading a book on a unknown topic or having a go at a new art medium or art experiment.