Think fast. It might be good for you.
Fast thinking, or "racing thoughts," is most commonly known as a symptom of the clinical psychiatric disorder of mania (and of the manic part of bipolar disorder or "manic-depression"). But, according to Princeton University psychologist Emily Pronin, most healthy people also have experienced racing thoughts at some point in time--perhaps when they are excited about a new idea they have just learned, or when they are brainstorming with a group of people, or even when they lie in bed unable to fall asleep. Pronin and her Harvard colleague Daniel Wegner decided to explore whether inducing people to think fast might lead them to feel some of the other experiences also associated with the manic experience....
The researchers found that regardless of the content of the statements, people felt happier, more energetic, more creative, more powerful, and more grandiose when they read the statements at a fast rather than a slow pace. In fact, the effect of thought speed was just as powerful as the effect of the content of the thoughts. In other words, the speed of people's cognitive processing was just as important as what they processed in determining their mood. Even thinking sad thoughts at a fast pace made people relatively happy.
Interesting possibilities. We all know that ideation builds excitement and feeds on itself. We even know how to produce ideation--with brainstorming. Now we find that this process works even when psychologists "make" their subjects think rapidly. That is probably the worst way to get the effect. If it works when somebody else makes you do it, think how much better it might work if you have your own way to do it. Actually we do have ways to elicit rapid ideation:
Sprint thinking: Take any word. Shout words that it reminds you of. Do that as fast as you can. Shout the words out loud. If you do this while waiting in line, it may offer the extra advantage of clearing out the line in front of you.
But I said ways, didn't I? Ok. You have 5 minutes to think of variants of the above sprint. Use words like: noun, adjective, verb, cause, result, adverb, image, opposite, fear, joke, odor, taste, place, abstract, and concrete.
Does this really affect your brain? Probably. Somebody will soon use fMRI to observe and describe the effect. But it probably increases blood flow in the parts of the brain that are used for the task. Gives them a warm-up . Might help. Couldn't hurt.