It’s been a day where negativity has beaten me into the gutter. Again.
Just now I saw this blog post and watched the video lecture in it. It described an experiment where subjects had to solve a problem. Some of them were told it was an IQ test. Some others were not told this, and were given chocolate. The ones that were given chocolate solved the problem and the ones that thought it was a test of their intelligence didn’t. Moral of the story: chocolate makes everything work out.
Seriously though, the point was not about chocolate but about being in the frame of mind for the task at hand. He seemed to be saying that you need to be happy and relaxed, not anxious, to be able to be creative and come up with new ideas. To be able to get straightforward work done productively however, you need a bit of anxiety (e.g. a deadline). And just like that, it all makes sense. I am in a spiral of anxiety, which is not helping, because what I’m doing right now needs me to be creative.
I don’t think there have been many tasks in this PhD so far where anxiety has been helpful. And yet there has been such a lot of anxiety. In many ways it was far worse in the beginning – the days of regular crying in the toilet over whether I’d made a terrible mistake trying to do a PhD. Things stabilised out a bit after a while, but now that I’m writing for journals and preparing presentations for conferences, terror has struck me to the core again. I think my understanding of what constitutes “interesting research” has become more restrictive, and I expect more of myself, feeling the pressure of the passing of time… and so the uphill struggle has steepened again. But it never helped to feel this anxious in the beginning, and it doesn’t now.
So maybe in working out this poster I should create a comfortable and happy space to do it in. Maybe it should involve paper and crayons, on the floor; calm background music; the wearing of pyjamas; bare feet; chatting things through until they make sense (with myself most likely); and of course… chocolate.