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Ep. 156: Dr. Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon - Empathic Concern for the Future-Self

July 12, 2021 Sucheta Kamath Season 1 Episode 156
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Ep. 156: Dr. Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon - Empathic Concern for the Future-Self
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Full PreFrontal
Ep. 156: Dr. Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon - Empathic Concern for the Future-Self
Jul 12, 2021 Season 1 Episode 156
Sucheta Kamath

In his 1890 seminal book, The Principles of Psychology, William James wrote, “There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.” One such key form of indecision is procrastination; and research shows that procrastinators act as if there’s no future. There is a way however, to rein in the reckless disregard for the future-self by evoking the empathic connection between the present and future-self. 

On this episode, psychologist and expert on imagination and wellbeing, coach at Impact Hub Ottawa, and owner of Bevy Creative, Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon, Ph.D. discusses how we can and should help people change their connection to their future-self which has multitude of benefits including reduction in procrastination. A key function of strengthening Executive Function is to alter behaviors and actions to attain goals set by self and bring the needs of the future-self to become fruitful.

About Dr. Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon
Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon is a psychologist and expert on imagination and wellbeing. Based on her research, she teaches courses at Carleton University on the psychology of creativity and innovation, coaches at Impact Hub Ottawa, and offers consulting to individuals and organizations through her business Bevy Creative. She is also the Organizational Health lead at Statistics Canada, where her team helps employees adapt to change and experience greater psychosocial health.

Website: http://ww.bevycreative.com

About Host, Sucheta Kamath
Sucheta Kamath, is an award-winning speech-language pathologist, a TEDx speaker, a celebrated community leader, and the founder and CEO of ExQ®. As an EdTech entrepreneur, Sucheta has designed ExQ's personalized digital learning curriculum/tool that empowers middle and high school students to develop self-awareness and strategic thinking skills through the mastery of Executive Function and social-emotional competence.

Support the show (https://mailchi.mp/7c848462e96f/full-prefrontal-sign-up)

Show Notes Transcript

In his 1890 seminal book, The Principles of Psychology, William James wrote, “There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.” One such key form of indecision is procrastination; and research shows that procrastinators act as if there’s no future. There is a way however, to rein in the reckless disregard for the future-self by evoking the empathic connection between the present and future-self. 

On this episode, psychologist and expert on imagination and wellbeing, coach at Impact Hub Ottawa, and owner of Bevy Creative, Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon, Ph.D. discusses how we can and should help people change their connection to their future-self which has multitude of benefits including reduction in procrastination. A key function of strengthening Executive Function is to alter behaviors and actions to attain goals set by self and bring the needs of the future-self to become fruitful.

About Dr. Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon
Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon is a psychologist and expert on imagination and wellbeing. Based on her research, she teaches courses at Carleton University on the psychology of creativity and innovation, coaches at Impact Hub Ottawa, and offers consulting to individuals and organizations through her business Bevy Creative. She is also the Organizational Health lead at Statistics Canada, where her team helps employees adapt to change and experience greater psychosocial health.

Website: http://ww.bevycreative.com

About Host, Sucheta Kamath
Sucheta Kamath, is an award-winning speech-language pathologist, a TEDx speaker, a celebrated community leader, and the founder and CEO of ExQ®. As an EdTech entrepreneur, Sucheta has designed ExQ's personalized digital learning curriculum/tool that empowers middle and high school students to develop self-awareness and strategic thinking skills through the mastery of Executive Function and social-emotional competence.

Support the show (https://mailchi.mp/7c848462e96f/full-prefrontal-sign-up)

Sucheta Kamath: Welcome to Full PreFrontal exposing the mysteries of executive function. Sorry if I'm repeating myself, but every time I welcome you back, I do like to define executive function. As you know, it's a key to personal success, because the set of skills that we call executive function are a set of mental skills that go into managing our thoughts, our emotions, and in effect, managing our goals to produce actions that can help us achieve those goals, and propel us towards progress. And in this process, we get to define who we are and who we become in the future, we get to kind of have a window into it. And of course, there's a problem sometimes we are either confused about the goals we should have for ourself, sometimes we are in a unable to formulate a plan. And the worst is sometimes we are unable to stick to the plan we create. And all these habits of mine actually are the biggest reason why we create barriers for the success for the future self. And, you know, when I was younger, or even in my work earlier on, I never thought too much about the future self or my own future self letter, let alone people that I worked with, but I have now come to understand the importance of formulating a some type of outline a silhouette, so to speak of the future self, and keep feeding and nurturing that silhouette with with flesh and bone and and richness of imagination, so that the future self is well taken care of. And I hate to think that we take care of people when they're in trouble or they're suffering. But here's the future self, it's suffering from one ailment and that's lack of attention from you. So I think with that in mind, it's a great pleasure to introduce my guest to you all, her name is Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon. She's a psychologist and you have to forgive my pronunciation. It's French, it's always the most difficult language for me. Even though I speak five languages. Nothing is useful when it comes to pronouncing French words, but she is an expert on imagination and well being. Based on her research. She teaches courses at Carleton University on the psychology of creativity and innovation. She coaches at Impact Hub Ottawa, and offers consulting to individuals and organizations through her business Bevy creative, and it's the coolest, you should I'll be linking in our show notes. You should check it out. She's very fun and vibrant, and has great ideas. And she's also the organizational health lead at Statistics Canada, where her team helps employees adapt to changes and experience great psychological health. Welcome, Eve. How are you?

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: I'm great. Thank you so much for the great introduction. And you're very good pronunciation of my name.

Sucheta Kamath: You are very good. And very forgiving. Very Canadian of you. Thank you, by the way. I don't mean to stereotype, but my brother, older brother lives in Canada and his children  have grown up with Canadian mannerisms. And they're so distinctly lovely, which I really, really enjoy. So this podcast is about executive function. And that entails adaptive flexibility, goal assessment, intentional focus, and intentional attention to intentions, if I can say that 10 times. What if you don't mind maybe setting us off a little bit, I asked my guest to talk about their own executive function as a child, how were you as a learner, and thinker? And did you give much thought to these processes?

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: Yeah, that's a great question. I have now reflected back on, on what kind of learner I was as a child, because I do find myself quite privileged to have fit well, within the the existing school system here, like the public school system in Canada, and I was able to, you know, I do have quite a flexible mind and I'm able to absorb a lot of information at once. I'm able to visualize things. Well, and so if I, if I'm doing are thinking of complex or abstract psychological constructs, for example, I'm able to almost visualize them in a 3D space. Same thing with statistics and numbers, I'm able to visualize things in a 3D space and to almost engage with them that way too, they almost feel real. I was always like that as a child as well. Very curious and intrinsically motivated for some things and then when I was in elementary school if something did not motivate me, or I was not interested in it, then I would completely disconnect. So my grades as a kid were not that good. And, and I had to learn that sometimes giving it a little bit more giving a little bit more effort or if I actually, you know, consciously directed my attention to things that might not have been intrinsically motivating, from the get go that I could build interest over time, or that I could see results over time. So I went maybe from a very serendipitous learner to a more a more focused learner over time. And more intentional. 

Sucheta Kamath: I love that. And, you know, I think one of the things that you said that speaks to me is this idea of you said, I became intentional, you know, I think we, as children are not formal education doesn't know just to do these processes. It's my work, for example, in metacognition, that has been built around that, but I only because of the nature of my work, work with people when they are struggling. And now that my movement is by creating a digital curriculum, and talking with schools and districts, and one of my desires is that we should really teach these things. So we don't one day look back and say, Oh, yeah, I am this kind of learner, you know, how about we focus on developing these skills right away. So, as we, you know, as we dive deep into this, my first line of questions for you was going to be around the concept of the future self, you know, you and I both, both are interested in the concept of this self and continuity of self through passage of time. And for effective executive functions to work, one must have a concept of self regulation to produce better or different results for the self of another time. And, and, and the current, the impact or the hold, the current self has on one's own emotions, is so hard to untangle that the future self has barely I like to call the future self has no lawyer representing in this court case. So can you talk a little bit about your interest in future self? And how do you conceptualize or talk about the concept of continuity of self?

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: Sure, yeah, the this whole concept of future self is something that I came across through Tim Pytchl, Dr. Tim Pytchl and Dr. Fuschia Sirois, who, who's now the University of Sheffield. And it really spoke to me in a way where the decisions that we make, oftentimes are so grounded in the present moment, but we are, in a way, never grounded or almost never grounded in the present moment in our, in our stream of consciousness where it seems like we're constantly thinking about the past or about the future. And, and the fact that we are making these decisions based on like you said, Are our present emotions, and that we're forecasting these emotions on our future self, we're forecasting what we feel now on our future self. And we know that at least research has shown that some of this affective forecasting is is is not correct, we falsely forecast some emotions to our future self. So it's, it becomes very hard in the moment to be making, quote, unquote, objective decision about what's what are the best behaviors for us. And when you think about outcomes for future self, it's not it's not that bad, if you are making you know, these false false affective forecasts or decisions maybe that serve present self more every once in a while, but when it comes a consistent pattern, then then you are likely to to orient yourself towards a certain path over time. Then you are to, to then you you would be if you were making some future self oriented decisions, and that happens because a lot of us actually can't really imagine the future self very well. And I thought that was really interesting.

Sucheta Kamath: That's so neat. And you know, I had the opportunity to interview Hal Hershfield whose work has influenced my thoughts about this. And and you did you did too, and the, the digital curriculum, AI-based digital curriculum that I have created. One of the things off the bat we do in the software is every child undergoes evaluation of their seven areas of executive function. And based on that assessment, they are given an opportunity to define, or can create a conceptual framework around the future self. So in effort, they write a letter to the future self, and they record a video addressing to the future self. And, and in that there's a lot of elements of what, what things I'm willing to sacrifice for you. Because I know when I behave this way, you will be better. And and there is an element of, you know, bringing that back so that this idea that my current self is not an end all be all. So how does, how have you studied this in your work and, and how, talk us a little bit about some of these stalling behaviors that we see, which is intentionally creating. I don't want to say roadblocks but but having goals, but not actualizing them. Because the current hold the current self has the emotional hold, it is willing to sabotage the outcomes for the future self, which we call procrastination. So how would you describe that your work in that area?

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: Yeah, so my, my work was very much influenced initially, actually, by how Hershfield's work as well, because he did a series of studies, actually digitally aging people. And so that's what got me to think about, well, if you can do that through digital aging, or like what you're doing, I think is great, even connecting through making a video for future self and writing to future self. I think that it's great to use an external ager like this. But I was wondering, can we do this using our own imagination? What about our own capacity, naturally, to connect to future self? Do we have that to start with? Or is that something that we need to constantly externally train and everyone? Or is that different for certain people are people who are and I don't want to label people procrastinator, so I'll just say people who tend to procrastinate more, were they... 

Sucheta Kamath: Do you mind telling us why you don't like to label them?

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: Sure. Yeah, I think it becomes an identity thing. When you're talking about this becoming metacognitive. Sometimes we are metacognitive, about certain labels we have about you, we use them. You know, we use metacognition, maybe not in the most constructive way. I mean, identity is important. self concept is important. But there's certain thing that when we label it, you know someone who procrastinate it means that you can be someone who stops procrastinating as well, instead of being a procrastinator, just sounds very set in stone. It's like your personality, you can't you can't overcome it.

Sucheta Kamath: I really like that. And I know you're about to describe the experiments. But we had I had Ethan Kross, the author of Chatter, and one of the things about the influence of that label is so vital because that self directed speech or inner speech has a great influence on your ability to take actions or stay inactive. But and I love the way you're saying that we need to distinguish from I am not my thoughts, but I'm also not permanently this way. That same have potential to change.

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: That's it. And the label we use, you know, when I when I write, that as a researcher, when I write research papers, or when I write for the audience, I make sure to be to be mindful of the words that I use and choose because in the past, I have used procrastinators, and I want to be careful with that. So, you know, I was really curious to know if if people who tend to procrastinate more often felt more disconnected to future self and if so why? And so in a series of studies, initially, what I did was, before doing the actual experiment, I was looking at people's innate ability to form mental images. So I hypothesize that people who could so we have different all of us can create mental images but using different senses so you might be better at sound. So you know, hearing music and sounds in your imagination, and someone else might be better at visualizing. Like an apple if I think imagine an apple you might see it very, very clearly you might see the details on the skin, you might see you know, even water dripping on the side. Other people are best at imagining smells and tastes, etc. And some people are good at all of them. And so I was wondering if you have greater ability and mental imagery and and in the whole modality of mental images, then are you better able to connect to future self In a way, that's where you can really see this person. Clearly you you see them move, you see them talk, you see them, you hear them, you might smell them. And you realize that it's that it's you or even if you don't realize that it's you, you at least realize that if someone you love or someone you very you care about, and so you have empathy towards them, you feel you were talking earlier about how maybe we'll, we'll help strangers if we're empathetic. But we might, we don't help the self when we're procrastinating. And even in terms of strangers, we don't always help strangers, because there's different types of empathy. And that's what I looked at with the experiment, I had participants listen to a mental imagery training about future self from different perspectives. So from a first person perspective, where they're actually in future selves shoes at the end of the semester, because this was this was for academic procrastination. At the end of the semester, they can see that they've procrastinated, they also can see another scenario where they haven't progressed needed. And then from a third person perspective, where they can see themselves from a bird's eye view as if you were looking at another person. And what I found was that when participants imagined future self from a third person perspective, they were they they felt a greater amount of this cognitive empathy, instead of the affective or have more emotional empathy. So cognitive empathy means that you can understand the situation that someone else is in and in this case that future self is in, but you're not necessarily flooded with the emotions because if future self procrastinated, then it is likely that they're not in those super positive situation. In the case of academic procrastination, they might be feeling anxious, they might be feeling overwhelmed, and stressed out with having to do last minute assignments, pulling all nighters and falling grades. And so that actually made people disengage from future self like it did not decrease procrastination over time in my study, and that actually mirrors the research on altruism with helping external strangers when you feel effective. Let's say I see someone and they fell in, they hurt themselves really bad on the street, and I feel their pain, and I feel their emotions. And suddenly, I feel overwhelmed and scared that I'm more likely to keep walking and not help them than if I feel a sense of sympathy or cognitive empathy that I can see they're in trouble. I can feel that they're in need, I can put myself in that in their shoes in that it's not a positive situation to be in. And so I should intervene and help. So it seems as though this this aspect of cognitive empathy, or being able to take a bird's eye view, even for future self is more helpful, helpful for us to move us towards, towards action and overcome procrastination.

Sucheta Kamath: I love that. And I think the is one of the striking thing about your research was, I think the way you sliced it in, in a non digitized way of altering or rather, first of all, in hell, Hirsch fields will work. One of the things that fascinated me is that path was not explored. But he actually showed the digitally altered pictures of somebody at 65. And that Yeah, jarred people. So that vivid and, you know, relatively delimitate itself invokes this fear and empathy, or maybe cognitive or affective, but both. What was so neat about your work is you said, well, let's not even show you because let's have you show some imagery of your changed self. And I think, which, again, to me kind of takes into consideration that we have different ways of going about it. But the process is very similar. And you showed that it can have remarkable impact. So one question that occurred to me as I was reflecting on your work is is you know, my son visited Tanzania a couple of years ago, and he came back and he was sharing with me this you know, African proverb, it went something like this, that indecision is like a stepchild. If it does not wash hands, it's called dirty if he does, he is wasting water. So I think I was wondering what is the relationship between indecision versus procrastination, because both look at the surface very similar, because it's inaction. Do you have any insight into that?

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: That's a great question. And here I will speak about my own perception of what the differences are not having done like a proper literature review on the difference of the core the concept. But no, that's a great question. I mean, procrastination and indecision is definitely part of procrastination, or it can, it can live in procrastination, but not always. So indecision does not define procrastination. Because you can still I feel like with indecision is that you have many choices, many avenues of of going about an action, you might not know which way to go or which way to choose. But with procrastination, you could have a very clear path, you could everything could be laid out, this is what you need to do this is when you need to do it, this is the deadline, and still not act. So in procrastination, there's that added layer of everything can be laid out in front of you, you could have everything ready, you could have let's say you're writing a book, you could have your your word processor, right in front of you, you could have your candle lit your music, your perfect space. And still you could just sit there and decide not not to do it. Now there's there's some research a lot of research trying to explore why that is? Is it fear of failure for some possibly, is it that in the moment, you want to do mood repair, so instead of doing a task that might be perceived as as tedious or difficult, you want to feel good. And so instead I'll, I'll watch TV, or I'll go for a walk, or a lot of people clean stuff, for some reason, when they progress a big clean, so do you want to feel like you're still advancing something that's good and necessary and you know, good for your overall, you know, task, you can check that off the list. So there's a lot behind procrastination, that that could be causing it. And, and with indecision. I mean, you could be indecisive and and still be acting, somehow still make a choice eventually. And so that's that's where I'd say the differences here, procrastination is bigger than just indecision.

Sucheta Kamath: I love that the reason I asked you that, because you know, if you look at the literature, and many people's work, that you're familiar with the effects of procrastination to me, and effects of indecision look alike, which is low productivity, general anxiety, lowered mood, you know, overall sense of lack of sense of well being. And so in decision, though, to me, as as you also distinguish there feels like actually not having adequate knowledge about the plan, planning process, or not having a good sense of how to organize the task. Right, and not having the task management skills, but the procrastination is having done the cognitive part. Now it's the effect of mismanagement. Like Is that right? 

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: That's it. And Tim Pytchyl has set out a lot. You know, procrastination is not solved by better time management. You can have great time management and still procrastinate.

Sucheta Kamath: Yes. And so it's all like, it's all all procrastination is pain management. So, right, that's how I see it, actually. And so kind of teaching people, which is so interesting to me, if we can indulge here for one more second is, you know, the cost of procrastination is so high, and people are enduring this, these outcomes, which are unfavorable. But they're literally doing everything in their capacity to avoid the experience of pain, whatever the pain feels like. So one of the things taxes invokes this incredible dread that oh, my God, I have to go through these numbers and scattered receipts, right? Yeah, so I'm sure there's a lot of tax procrastination. Yeah. I mean, I was just laughing. Last year, when, during the pandemic, they extended the deadline. I'm like, that's the worst thing government did.

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: They're gonna wait till the last minute anyways. 

Sucheta Kamath: It has professionally extended the misery I certify you to be more miserable for two more months. So as you think about sharing with us, how did you then I'm good get into the work of imagination and how what are your recent projects about and sounds like this imagination. thought experiment has really propelled you to go into direction?

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: Absolutely, absolutely. I so I started my whole academic journey initially wanting to study motivation. And and so procrastination for me was, you know, it isn't a motivation or lack of motivations somehow, right? It it falls within that realm for me and so having done this research and just just, it sparked for me this whole it opened up more that this whole literature and world on on imagination reading up on mental imagery, our ability to create inner worlds. And then it really got me into this whole literature on mind wandering, and daydreaming. And I always approached my research which with a wellbeing lens, so that's always the outcome that I look at, I really, at the end of the day, I want my research to be able to, to help people and and to help people thrive in growth, not just, you know, get by. So for me, I was looking at how, okay, daydreaming in the literature, see it, it seems as though it's, it's being often compared to something that's, that's negative for you, like people who are mind wandering, a lot are ruminating, and they're stuck in the past, and they would rather shock themselves, then, you know, sit with 15 minutes with their own mind. And I was wondering if, you know, with every psychological construct, there's, it's not black and white, it's it, there's a lot of gray area, depending on who you are, depending on where you are, depending on your cycle, your psychology. And so it really, it really motivated me to then start studying how our spontaneous thoughts how our stream of consciousness actually could influence our concept of self, how we see ourselves and then other things like creativity like well being. So that's what I did my PhD on, I really studied how how daydreams can influence our sense of self, depending on whether your daydreams are in a more narrative and story like form and whether you're having daydreams that are more spontaneous associative in nature, so just a little bit more disconnected, which we have, you know, all the time I have a song and then suddenly, I'm thinking about eggs. And suddenly I'm thinking about, you know, this, this and that and, and how, how this spontaneous imagination might relate in a way to, to our, to our well being, so something is a good sometimes when is it good? Is it bad sometimes when is it bad? And this this whole, this, then opened the whole literature to me on on creative thinking. And I did, I developed some workshops around that with Dr. Janet Mantler at Carleton University, who's she's an organizational psychologist. And so that was kind of an aside passion and interest of mine, but I think all interconnected. And eventually what sparked my, my desire to take this research and to, to distill it in a way that's very practical and useful for people to engage with. So then I designed a course on creativity and play this whole idea of playfulness because I did find in my research that we do have a variety of daydreams our imagination, if left untamed, if left without any metacognition or self awareness sometimes can take us in different directions that are not always good for us. Or it could it has so much potential, but we need to have that self-awareness, we need to have that metacognition in order to understand our imagination in order to use it as a tool as a tool for well being as a tool for creativity as a tool for productivity, in a way as well. And so it really became a big passion of mine to try and distill this down to very practical tools for people to use in their everyday lives to use in the workplace or to use for their own wellbeing and growth. And so that's how that journey evolved. I'm not one step at a time, but I'm really happy with where it led me.

Sucheta Kamath: No, I love that journey. You know, I had a wonderful, another Canadian researcher, Dr. James Dankert, if I'm if you're familiar with his work on boredom. And as I was preparing for that talk, you know, it just occurred like I came across this whole incredible you know, the nature of boredom, which can't tell you what you ought to do. And they both the author said neither can we. So it is a this limbo state where whatever you're doing right now is not in gauging your attention, but whatever the choices you have don't seem to be propelling you towards that. But the mind wandering states, on the other hand is bedrock for creativity. And just that's just roping you yourself back to be productive is where the rub is.

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: Yeah. And we'll daydream. Daydream is usually sparked or activated when we are bored. Because the external stimuli, the stimulation, the external environment, is not engaging enough. And so what we do in this, in this case, as we our mind, naturally, that is called the default mode network is the areas of our brain that activate, and they bring us into our inner world. So boredom is kind of necessary for that to happen.

Sucheta Kamath: You know, it's so interesting in in their book, and later on, I kind of looked up at the, you know, during the World War Two, a Canadian enlisted soldier. You know, I think Sidney Gunter was his name, he would doodle, but he was he had good drawing skills. And there was a picture, he drew off himself, smoking a little cigarette, and the bullets are flying. He's getting bored in the middle of a war. That's hilarious. Wow, that's crazy. Like, Oh, my God, this is so boring. I think that, to me, captures this whole notion of the the most dangerous and action full life is still not adequate for that mind to say, Okay, I'm going to go inside. And just I'm going to daydream now. Oh, yeah, that's true. You can habituate to a lot. Yes. Talk about arbitration. Exactly. Yeah. So as you talk about this connection between capacity to let the mind wander and take it on a path, the structureless path of exploration? How do you see two things people can balance and particularly I see this in education, you know, children are really bored. And I primarily feel a couple of reasons. Because there's so much when a teacher is responsible for for 20 kids at a time, she definitely has to do attention management, she has to force and impose. So compliance becomes the focus. And one of the ways to comply is to say nothing move, and not move. Because if you have a curiosity question, or if you have a thought, that is considered an interruption, so and if you see really a child daydreaming, it's considered disrespectful. So there's so much as you know, cultural, heavy handedness of expecting engagement by being still non speaking and cooperating by doing when you may not be invested in the and you can become motionless as you're engaged. So how can we kind of pull kids out of that and allow this mind wandering in a effective way and yet, not make them these rogue kids who are not being cooperative?

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: Mm hmm. Well, I'll steal this from you is is teaching kids about about these metacognitive concepts, teaching them I think it's it's such a fantastic idea to teach kids about their own minds, so that they know Oh, when I'm, you know, when I'm listening to the teacher, and then suddenly, I can't hear her voice and I'm imagining a different scene. Maybe I'm imagining playing with my dog or with my friends. That's daydreaming. And, you know, I think making purposeful time for daydreaming, it could be quiet time. And for some, like you mentioned doodling, a lot of people like to doodle when they daydreams. Yeah, people like to do that. Some people like to maybe have some some other sensory stimulation, fidget fidget toys, or Silly Putty, Play Doh, Lego blocks, often making a puzzle, you know, when you're making a puzzle, you're we're often just daydreaming, doing something that's still engaging us. But so we're not. We're not fully bored. But we're, we're fully. We're not fully bored. But what we're doing is simple enough or repetitive enough that we can let our mind wander. And then capturing that because I think it's it's always interesting for self-discovery, to be able to capture what is going on in our mind. And so there's this whole, this whole idea of free writing that I teach to everybody I need I teach to my students, and I think you could definitely teach it to kids. This idea of free writing is you have a prompt, and you could have, you know, maybe a mind wandering or a quiet time session and then after this session to close it off, you could ask the kids to say, what did you experience? What did you think about what what went on through your mind. And then you set a timer. I wouldn't say five minutes for a kid. But you can move all the way up to that. But for a child, it could be two minutes, set a timer for two minutes. And for that time, the pencil doesn't leave the page. And if you have a writing block, you just say that you just write that you have a writing block, and that you don't know what to say. So this whole idea of free writing, it was developed by Peter Elbow, I believe back in the 80s. And it's fantastic. It just connects us back to our stream of consciousness, because it's really that's what you're doing, you're putting your stream of consciousness out onto the page, it doesn't matter if you don't follow the prompt. But it you might have these aha moments, you might have these meta metacognitive realizations about yourself, you might become a little bit more self-aware about what's going on when you daydream. And so if there's something valuable there, either a lesson about the self or a creative idea, then you've captured it in that session. So it's about making daydreaming more purposeful. I don't think that doing that would stop kids from daydreaming in other contexts, of course. But at least there's a purposeful time for it. And I think when you again, this whole idea of of play and creating a play space is that you create maybe a behavior that's frowned upon, and you make it something playful and fun, and useful. And kids also at a very young age, when they're when they're more in. I forget the word in English for this one. But in kindergarten, when they're in kindergarten, they actually externalize daydreaming a lot. And so they do daydream to a certain extent, but their sense of self is not that developed. So their stream of consciousness is not as organized as ours. If you could say that sometimes yours might not feel so organized, but they actually externalize daydreaming they externalize play. And so you'll if you notice very, very young kids, they'll just blurt out what they're thinking or they'll blurt out, suddenly, their their this character, suddenly they sing a song, and it just comes out of their mind. And eventually, over time, we start to internalize that chatter and it becomes a big part of our mind wandering and of our daydreams. So I think just understanding for kids that playtime and daydreaming or verbalizing the stream of consciousness, they kind of go hand in hand. And so leaving room for that is really important as well and letting them express that is important.

Sucheta Kamath: I love that. And I think that so beautifully ties with well being, because well being is also working out some unresolved issues or having the capacity to unburden the working memory to not impose structure. But kind of see how, you know, the classic. You know, what the Newton, the apple falling on Newton's head, that was not the first time he thought about it. And it may be a folklore but but I think this idea clicking can happen if we have the room to let the ideas float around freely, right?

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: Absolutely, absolutely. And that we don't, you don't, I'm not trying to suppress them, you're and you're looking at them, right, you're you're leaving room for you to look at. And this is not looking at the future self with a third eye perspective, it's almost like looking at the present self through a bird's eye view through that third aspect of so looking at ourselves, it's funny that our ability, our consciousness is very complex, it's we can look at future self, we can look at past self and we could look at ourselves in the present moment. And these are all they're all very valuable states to be in. Because we are not just beings react, we're not just reactive, we can be more than just reactive, we can we can be self-aware

Sucheta Kamath: And respond rather than react. That you know, as as we come to a close, okay, what how do you think the mindfulness literature which shows such remarkable impact on well being, which is very, very, it's complimentary to the mind wandering process, but there is a non judgmental witnessing, that means not interfering, and also not having an agenda. Sometimes I think when people are in the imaginative state, they kind of are but dazzled by their brilliance, and they want to act on it or translate that into something. Oh, that's a great idea. Let me find a piece of paper to write it out. That was a great quote, you know, I can see people tripping over themselves trying to become suddenly productive in the middle of their mind wandering state. Or sometimes people are really critical when they're ruminating and revisiting the same thought. So all the mindfulness and loving compassion, practices are talking about presencing, or witnessing. How do you see the continuum of imagination and creativity in that way where you don't interfere with it?

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: Yeah, I think you put it very well. And that's something that I grappled with a lot. When I was first coming to daydreaming and studying it was a how does it differ from just sitting with, in a mindful way or meditating, and I know there's many different schools of thought on meditation, there's different ways to meditate. And then the love and compassion meditations are a big one. And the non judgmental one is a big one as well. And I like this, this when you said you, sometimes when we almost get this burst of like dopamine, when we have a great idea, and suddenly we're tripping everywhere, and it's just kind of chaotic, or we want to do something with it, but it's kind of this, this big burst of, of energy, that we might not know how to bring back into a purposeful, and, and clear way forward, and action. And so there has to be room. There's a lot we have to do, to train our minds into familiar our to familiarize ourselves with our minds, I think having a mindfulness practice, having a meditation practice is really important. And that meditation practice is not necessarily is not a space where you have you can you should engage with creative thought you should just observe them, you should just observe, observe, thought and know that when you're in this space, like I think carving out intentional space, for everything is really important for us. So if you carve out this intentional meditative space, this is where you are a non active observer. And then when you carve out a space for play, for playfulness, and for creativity, this is a space where you can spread all the blocks out onto the floor, and, you know, have fun and have that burst of dopamine and have that unbridled energy. And then when you come into a space of calmness, later on, you are allowing whatever came up for you during a very playful, high energy, space and situation, you're allowing it to consolidate, you're allowing your ideas to come together because in creativity, there's divergence. But you also have to bring it all back. And so you have to go big, and that can seem chaotic sometimes. Or it can seem confusing, like how do I make this into a tangible, real thing? Well, you, you, you, you allow yourself to just bring it back down, and you allow your mind and you allow yourself time. So procrastination, when you procrastinate with what you don't allow yourself is time. Time to percolate ideas time to get into many different iterations of these different spaces.

Sucheta Kamath: When you're tightening up time. Oh, go ahead. Sorry. And I was gonna say the time Yeah, very important thing you mentioned, which is time to allow this wave of discomfort to pass. Yeah, I think that's where the real rubber meets the road. I think people were in the state of procrastination are so incredibly afraid to feel the feelings they substituted. If you just waited, it's just like a hunger pain, you know, you don't need to eat immediately, you just let the wave go by. Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you.

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: No, that was great. That was great. And, and you could train that went with a meditation practice. That's something that you could, you could train to, like you said not to be so reactive, but to be responsive, and to know. Yeah, that's it. And there's a space to be reactive. There's a space to be an observer. And it's not always, it might seem overwhelming to why and then suddenly, I have to have all these spaces. And how do I set this up and I call it a creative hygiene. You just you just create new little habits over time. It's like flossing your teeth. You do it every day. And you trust the process. You trust that it's a process and that in the process, there's many different little blocks and little spaces that you need to enter. To be able to bring. Let's say you have a goal of bringing up you want to write a book before you ran around it write a play or you want to create a piece of art or whatever it might be. That that will take time, you will have to cycle through this process many times and making a hygiene of it, of that creative process is super important. And it becomes your friend and then it just becomes a natural way of being, even if it's uncomfortable.

Sucheta Kamath: I love that I think I practice creative hygiene more than I do my dental flossing. So there's something learning to be done. It's so interesting. I recently came across a phrase called atmospheric rivers. And Jenny Odell is a reflect it. She's a beautiful writer, and an author and a remarkable young person. And she, she talks about this, this is my new favorite book, you know, the that how to do nothing. If you are interested, you should look that up. I am. She talks about this on her desk, she has a jar of rainwater. She's half Filipino. And she says, when I learned the concept about atmospheric rivers, these are clouds that travel long distances, and they bring rain, the rain is not formulated there. So she lives in San Francisco. And she said, when it rains, it reminds me they actually have come from Philippines. And so the jar of water just triggers my thoughts about this incredible ways we are connected. And so in my creative deck, I collect things. And that was one of the things that I just was so awestruck, one of the emotions I'm cultivating as a way to bring balance is our and and I'm just like, you're my fifth person. I have told this concept since yesterday. Because I love it so much, is very powerful. Yeah. So thank you, as we end our conversation, I would love to know what influences your beautiful mind, and how do you shape your thoughts? And do you have any recommendations for our listeners as to how they can indulge in the same pursuits as you have? 

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: Yeah, um, I mean, first of all, a big you know, a big, big influence for me is the people around me as my community. I would say I'm, I'm definitely more introverted, but I've, I've always enjoyed time by myself, but always after I've engaged with different people learn from them, put myself in different situations, learn from just various perspectives. And so for me, if I didn't, if I didn't have that, I don't think I would have half the, the ideas or the inspirations that I've been blessed to have. So number one is is people finding finding people have that have all sorts of perspectives, they don't have to think like me, I actually seek people that are very different than me, because I learned the most from them. Yeah, and it's, I don't care to have uncomfortable conversations. I'll have them. So number one is that and then, you know, number two is just making time to be out in nature. For me, that's huge. I love to garden, I love to walk and bike and, and go go on runs on nature trails. And ever since I was little, I've always loved animals and discovering the natural world. So for me, you know, this, the cloud story that you just said resonates a lot with me because I feel and this whole idea of off, you know, I feel like I feel also often when I'm in nature, I feel small, and I feel connected to everything. And we can see that the natural systems that are out there are so crucial for our survival, and that our survival and the way we take care of the Earth is so crucial for these these systems. And so just seeing that interconnectedness is, is inspiring. So that's a big one for me as well. So if I was to suggest anything to readers is, you know, keep keep meeting new people. Get out into the natural world, spend time in nature and read all sorts of books because that's like meeting new people in a certain ways to see these different perspectives and different ways of life. Sometimes some stories we would never have even thought existed until we read a book about it about a personal story. Yeah, so those are my big ones. 

Sucheta Kamath: Well, thank you for this absolutely fabulous conversation. And thank you. Thank you everybody for tuning in. If you love what you hear, please share, please subscribe to our newsletter, please leave us a review. Feel free to reach out to, to me my email is Sucheta at exqinfiniteknowhow dot com and thanks again for being here with us and your time and your expertise. We really benefited from it.

Eve-Marie Blouin-Hudon: Thank you so much for said that and yeah, thank you for putting this together and for your, your wonderful questions. It's it, talking about these things really gives me a lot of energy. So I really appreciate it.