That was not the first time I had witnessed someone pacing while talking on his or her cell phone, but it was the first time I contemplated why that seemed to be a common behavior. So I decided to research it in hopes of understanding why we tend to pace.
The first thing I discovered was that, because of the way the brain is wired, gesturing, laughing, smiling, crying, and waving our hands, or whatever is appropriate, are perfectly normal actions when one is engaged in a conversation because we use certain skills when socializing. In other words, we become very interactive and animated when conversing with others.
However, things have changed technologically and socially, so, more often than not, our interactions with others are through technology rather than face-to-face. The technology, nevertheless, does not eliminate the need for us to still feel as though there is personal interaction transpiring when we are talking on the phone. When the phone rings, though our phones are closer at hand and we do not need to get up to answer them, we get up anyway because the brain anticipates fully engaging in the conversation and reflecting social interaction.
Desiring a connection with other people is natural. As psychologist William James said, “We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”1
In addition to responding to the brain stimulus prompting us to get connected, creativity seems to be linked to movement.2
When people can move about freely and express themselves, the creative part of the brain engages. “[A] study found that walking indoors or outdoors similarly boosted creative inspiration. The act of walking itself…was the main factor. Across the board, creativity levels were consistently and significantly higher for those walking compared to those sitting.”3 That further explains why individuals walk and talk at the same time, especially when they need to come up with creative solutions and ideas.
I must admit that there was a time when I couldn’t sit still when I took a call. When my phone rang, it was like the official waving the green flag at the onset of an auto race! After a few mishaps and close calls of bumping into other persons or walking when there was a “do not walk sign,” I needed to stop reacting to the ring of my cell phone and get to a higher and more relaxed state of mind, and to trust that whatever I needed to handle during my conversation would be available if I remained poised.
As I often do when in need of answers and greater knowledge, I turn to the scriptures. I found that in the gospel of Luke 12:12, it is written, “For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in that very hour what ye ought to say” (ASV). I was encouraged to know that I had a choice to either listen for an intuitive voice of the wisdom from the Holy Spirit to inspire my words or to pace in order to think clearly and creatively.
Another verse I found very useful is Psalm 46:10. “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’” (NLT). That directive is antithetical to pacing and, I will add, not an easy task to accomplish!
I discovered, after much practice, that the more I relaxed, the easier it became to sit still while conversing on my phone. Second, pausing and waiting in silence for divine intervention before responding led me to better, more well thought-out comments and pragmatic solutions.
Author Wayne Dyer said, “Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence…All creativity requires some stillness.” 4
ASV-American Standard Version
NLT-New Living Translation
1 “William James.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Accessed August 02, 2017. https://www.britannica.com/biography/William-James
2 Slepian, Michael L., and Nalini Ambady. “Fluid Movement and Creativity.” Ambady Lab, Stanford University. January 12, 2012. Accessed August 2, 2017. http://ambadylab.stanford.edu/pubs/Slepian-Ambady_Fluid-Movement-and-Creativity_%20in-press_JEPG.pdf.
3 Stanford University. “Stanford study finds walking improves creativity.” Stanford News. April 24, 2014. Accessed August 02, 2017. http://news.stanford.edu/2014/04/24/walking-vs-sitting-042414/
4 “Embracing Silence.” Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. October 06, 2014. Accessed August 02, 2017. http://www.drwaynedyer.com/blog/embracing-silence/
5 “Survey: Americans spend 23 hours a week online/social media.” UPI. June 29, 2013. Accessed August 02, 2017. http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Technology/2013/06/29/Survey-Americans-spend-23-hours-a-week-onlinesocial-media/UPI-61961372562999/