What Can Doodling Do For You?

Doodle on a napkin

This week I invite you to take a little “brain break” and give your thinking mind some time off. For a few minutes each day, give yourself permission to doodle. On your notepad at work. On a napkin while waiting at a restaurant. On a pad of paper before you go to bed. When ever, where ever you get the chance, doodle.

Doodling by definition is absentmindedly drawing pictures without really knowing what you’re drawing to begin with. (dictionary.com) So it doesn’t have to be anything specific. Just doodle what pops into your head.

Doodling is something that a lot of us have gotten into trouble for over the years. This is why I said, “give yourself permission”, because we’ve come to see doodling as a bad thing. People see someone doodling and assume they aren’t paying attention. While that can sometimes be true, in my experience doodling helps people to pay more attention to what they are doing.

I was the student that was always illustrating what the teachers were talking about. I still do it to this day in classes or meetings. Not anything elaborate, just stick figures and little drawings. Illustrating things as I’m being taught helps to solidify the concepts in my head. It also helps me to pay more attention. This sounds counter intuitive, but really, it’s not. If I’m listening and drawing things out as I go, then I’m still focused on what is being said. If I’m just trying to listen then my mind will often wander and I’ll lose what the teacher is saying. This has nothing to do with the teachers, or their style of teaching, it’s just the way my mind tends to process things.

If you need to do something like this to help you pay attention, to help you learn, then I say go for it. As far as I know they don’t teach “Illustrating Your Professor’s Lessons” in any study habits classes. Maybe that’s a new idea for someone. Study habits that are outside the box. What works for each of us may be different. Honor who you are and how your mind works. You’ll learn a lot more in the long run than you would by trying to force yourself into someone else’s box.

Studying is not the only area that doodling can benefit us. It’s a simple way to relieve stress. Those little moments that we take throughout the day to relieve stress may not seem like much, but they add up. Taking these 5- or 10-minute breaks keeps all of that from piling up and exploding at some point later on.

Doodling also opens your mind up to seeing new possibilities. Where someone might just see an equal sign, you may see eyes or a mouth. I mean, this is how the whole world of emojis began…..=).

To some doodling seems pointless, but it can serve a greater purpose. Read about the Nazca Lines in Peru. Seeming doodles all over the desert. They are starting to find out that these lines had a larger purpose. Among other things, they pointed the way to water sources, which was the basis for life.

While your doodles may not point to water, they may point to a life-changing solution to a problem you’ve been trying to solve for a while. They may point to that new job that you’ve been trying to decide whether or not to take. They may point to that new dream that you’ve been attempting to pursue.

If you need a little more guidance, or if you want an extra challenge, try this: Draw two or three random lines or squiggles on a page, touching or not. Then make a picture out of those lines. (See the pictures below for doodling ideas.) If you have a hard time finding something to draw, turn the page around, shift your perspective.

You can draw several different squiggles and lines at the beginning of the day or week and then go back to it each time you see something a little different. I have doodles laying around that I will add to here and there. Or if I’m writing in a journal or notebook, I’ll have doodles in the margins that I add to when I see them again.

You could tag team with your spouse, roommates, co-workers, or friends: Put a squiggle or lines on a page, leave it in a common area, and then each person can add to it as they go by throughout the day. It’s pretty neat to watch how each person sees something different.

There are also books and postcards that you can buy to have inspiration with you if you need it.

The basic idea is that you just put your pen (pencil, crayon, marker, whatever you have handy) to your paper and start drawing. You don’t have to have any idea what you’re drawing or why.

Have fun with it, see what random things you come up with. Post pictures of your doodles on our Facebook page, or tag us in your doodle pictures on Instagram(@thenovelturtle). It’s always fun to see what others come up with.

How Does Changing Your Perspective Change You?

Sunset over a lake.

Our perspective is what shapes our world. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying: if there is an accident or a crime, 7 people can see the same thing happen and there will be 7 different versions of the story. Each witness sees things from their perspective. This is also true when it comes to our daily lives. Our perspective, where we are in our lives, and the emotions that we are currently harboring, will shape what we see around us.

One person can watch two people talking and see an argument, while someone else can watch the same conversation and see two people excited about something.

Have you ever been with a friend and they had a conversation with another person? They walk away and your friend says, “that person was so rude to me, they were talking down to me”. From your perspective, you just thought that the other person was trying to explain things to your friend, but because your friend has been feeling more self-conscious lately, she thinks that everyone is talking down to her.

That’s what I’m talking about. Your friend’s inner world is coming out and influencing how she sees the world around her. The way she feels about herself overshadows what is really happening. It changes how she sees everything and everyone.

We all have these little things that influence us. We just have to work hard to find them so that we can release them and move forward, seeing the world as it really is.

Some people have had a lot of bad things happen to them in their lives and it causes them to view the world as a very negative place. Some people didn’t have much growing up, so they see the world as a place that doesn’t have enough for everyone. They think that they have to scrape and grab to get what they want.

If you just had a fight with your spouse then you may walk out into the rest of your day with the mindset that everyone is against you, or angry at you. You may look at those around you and think, “no one listens to me, no one does anything for me”. If your boss just brought you in and yelled at you for something, then you might leave that meeting thinking that your stupid and you can’t do anything right. You take that energy with you when you go throughout the rest of your day and it influences how you see the world around you.

Perspective is such a big thing. It influences everything big and small in our lives. If we can be aware of why we have the perspective that we do, then it may change how we look at people and do things.

It’s also something that we can shift. It may take time, but it can be done. We have to be willing to take a deep dive into our inner world and see what is influencing our current perspective.

Another part of changing our perspective is being willing to listen to others, and see things from their point of view, instead of always insisting on our own way. We have to be open to the idea that we don’t know everything, that we may have to learn and look a little silly for a little while. Again, this takes looking inside ourselves to see what it is that makes us feel like we always have to be right, why we always have to be the smartest person in the room.

Part of the issue is that we get stuck in the routine of our day to day. We go through our lives each day, often doing the same things in the same order. When you take a shower, brush your teeth, get ready in the morning, eat meals, drive to work, drive to the store, and drive home we go the same way each time. We do the same things over and over again each day. We talk to the same people in the same way.

In doing this, we get stuck in a rut and we never take the time to look outside of our own little world.

To help you begin to shift your perspective, I invite you to mix it up. Begin to look at things from a different perspective and see how it affects your over all wellbeing. Start with the small things.

When you shower, do things out of order. Try driving a different way to and from work. Even if it just means taking a different way out of your parking lot. Take an extra few minutes and drive around your neighborhood. Look at each house you pass and find something beautiful about it. Look for something in each yard that you’ve never seen before. When you are eating a meal, put your phone down and look around you. See the colors in your food, look at the pictures on the wall, notice how the tables are arranged, look out the window (if there is one) and watch cars passing by. Order something different than you normally do.

Take this all one step further and literally change your perspective. Lay upside down and look at things that way. How does it change? Tilt your head sideways and see what pops out. Go to a park, or even a different room in your house to work on things.

If you are having a hard time finding a solution to something, change your perspective. Step back and think of it like an outsider would. Try playing devil’s advocate and argue the position from the other side to gain clarity. Sometimes when we get stuck in one loop in our heads the solution alludes us.

As we start doing these perspective changes with the small things in life, it transfers over to the bigger things. If we shift how we view our own world, then the world around us starts to change as well.

It’s not always easy, and it does take time, but it can be done. Shifting our perspective can change our lives in ways that we never imagine.

Perhaps you have a conversation with your boss that you initially think is bad, but when you step back and play devil’s advocate, you see that they were just giving you constructive criticism. If you then take this and use it to improve how you’re doing your job, it could lead to a promotion or a raise.

This applies to every area of our lives. We can improve our relationships, our jobs, the way we do things, and most importantly, ourselves.