Why Showering Gives You Great Ideas
Warm, Peaceful, Happy
If you ask 20 people around 60% will say, showering gives you great ideas. The best part is, this is not a coincidence or a form of magic. There are very good reasons why this happens.
Since modern science has become advanced enough, Neuroscience has been doing a great job of explaining things about how we get ideas and solve problems. The use of brain scans has begun to pinpoint where creative thinking occurs in the brain, when it occurs and what happens.
The beauty of showering is that it provides a time and space where the exact conditions for the creative mind state are created.
The Creative Mind State
What neuroscience has revealed is that, whether you are solving a business problem, improvising jazz, playing chess, or writing a poem, your brain is in the same state: the creative mind state.
More importantly, to be able to think creatively, you MUST be in this mind state.
So, what is it?
Well, according to research into the subject, there are FOUR characteristics:
1) Mental quiet
The simplest thoughts fire hundreds of thousands of neurons. The ‘aha moment’ when you have an insight, solve a problem, or come up with a new idea, only fires off a few thousand. If your mind is busy, thinking, plotting, worry, scheming, there is a very good chance you will simply miss that moment of insight.
2) Inward looking
To have this mental quiet, you must be inward-looking. Not reference the outside world, what people will think, what the effects of your thoughts or actions might be. Just be busy with your own stuff.
3) Slightly happy
OK, so you don’t have to be swinging from the chandeliers, but you need to be in a positive frame of mind, upward-looking, not downward
4) Not trying too hard
When you try too hard, you think a lot, you look outwards, you experience stress, you’re not happy anymore. Boom. No creative thought. Your thinking must be effortless, it must flow.
In the shower… this is EXACTLY how you feel. Closed into a small room, you have almost no external stimuli, so your attention turns inward. You’ve showered many times, so you don’t need to think about what to do next, so you have mental quiet. It feels good and smells nice, so you are slightly happy. And because you have done it so often, you are not trying too hard.
Your mind drifts off into a dreamy state where it drifts from one set of thoughts to another, almost with you asking it too… and then BAM, the insight, the ‘aha’ moment!
You’ll find that the best ideas very rarely come when you are working. They occur during your lunch or smoke break, at the water cooler, when you’re folding washing, walking the dog, exercising, driving a well-known route. All these activities are known to put you into the required state of mind.
Forget this idea that inspiration and creativity are forms of magic. They are not. But they do require a specific state of mind.
Next time you are stuck and need an answer or a new idea, take a shower!
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