Have you ever just sat to think why a certain line of a song randomly popped into your head and why you can’t stop to sing it, or why a certain stanza from a poem in 5th Grade just won’t leave your brain? Well these thoughts may end up being important to you and may have even helped you at some point in life. These thoughts hit us unexpectedly seeming to bear no meaning, and this is what most of us, even scientists, are still shocked about. Earworms, as some people would call the random thoughts, are scientifically referred to as involuntary semantic memories. Involuntary because they bring themselves up and semantic because they have a purpose.
AN EXAMPLE SHOWING HOW THE THOUGHTS CAN BE IMPORTANT.
Take for instance, one gets a musical earworm. This could be a line or chorus from one of your favorite songs back in the years. One usually can’t seem to get enough of the song no matter how hard they try. This may even be annoying. Looking at this from a science perspective, one is experiencing a ‘contemplative persistence of a musical experience in the absence of direct sensory prompting of the experience’. This is called involuntary musical imagery.
Let’s say you are in a financial crisis and you need to pay back your loan. At this point, the chorus “no play makes John a dull boy” is on repeat mode in your head. After a while, you remember John, your classmate back in college who can help you with your situation. What actually happened is that the problem you are in triggered the random thought that helped you solve it.
HOW RANDOM THOUGHTS COME ABOUT.
For scientists, the thought come from processed memory and creative thinking from an individual. A study even shows that those that have more random thoughts are more creative and open than those with fewer. The same way you search the internet for something is the same way the brain searches its memory for a solution to the problems and presents to you the solution in the form of earworms.
Researchers think that the random thoughts come after a long semantic priming, where information you get brings live parts of you that had been stored in memory and makes them live there until one figures out why the thoughts are there. One gets more creative as he/she is able to establish a relationship between the thoughts and the information.
HOW TO REAP FROM YOUR RANDOM THOUGHTS
- Keep the thought in your head. Do not try too hard to let it go. Just focus on remembering it well for about 90 seconds.
- Grab your copy of 7 things that keep you from living now. The book can help one to be mindful of the random thought he/she has and get rid of things
- that may distract the thoughts.
- Think about the predicaments that you may be currently facing. You can even list all of them.
- Try and relate the earworm to the list of predicaments you have listed. Chances are you will find a relation somewhere.