Both Mark Zuckerberg and President Barack Obama have said that wearing the same thing every day frees their minds to focus on their work, which is consistent with cognitive load theory: the less you have to worry about, the more cognitive capacity you have to devote to purposeful thinking, whether learning or innovating.
Although innovations can sometimes happen during times of duress—people like to point to advances in technology such as radar and the internet, developed for military reasons—war can also retard progress. Technologies developed during wartime tend to have narrow uses, whereas peacetime innovations benefit more people.
If economic growth depends on innovation, it follows that relieving people of as much mental burden as possible, freeing them to innovate, is in a country’s best interest. In future posts, I’ll look at some of the nuances of mental relief.