Why Do Creative Ideas Come to Us in the Shower?

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Am I the only one who wonders this? Why do creative ideas come to us in the shower? Seriously, the majority of my big ideas, my creative ideas and solutions to challenges come to me as I shower. Is it the flow of water? Is it the solitude? Or am I imagining a connection?

Allowing curiosity to guide me, I researched to discover the answer to my question. As it turns out, there are reasons why creativity sparks while we shower.

Why Do Creative Ideas Come to Us in the Shower title meme

Creating an Environment for Creativity

Several factors come together in the shower, creating the perfect environment for flashes of creativity, ahas and problem solving.

I’ve noticed that there are four scenarios that ramp up the creative sections of my brain. Ranking them from least likely to spark creativity to most likely, they are:

  • driving alone in the car
  • when I’m in the alpha state between sleep and wakefulness, and similarly, when I’m in a relaxed, meditative state
  • walking in nature, alone
  • showering

The commonalities between those scenarios are solitude, no distractions, a relaxed state of mind and genuine happiness. Take away any of those factors and I am much less likely to come up with something clever or profound.

That’s why driving in the car is less conducive to creativity. On a gorgeous day, when traffic is light, my music is playing and I don’t have pressing appointments or a need for speed, my mind generates wonderful ideas. Throw in heavy rain, backed up traffic and urgency and I get nothing. In fact, I’m so focused on driving or weather conditions that music is a distraction that must be silenced.

And that is another consideration. The more intensely we focus on creativity or coming up with solutions, the more evasive they might become.

We’ve all experienced trying to remember a name or wracking our brains for information that eludes us. We give up and go into the kitchen to bake cupcakes and suddenly, 15 minutes later, the name or the info pops into our heads. When we stop trying so hard, what we seek surfaces.

Here are the reasons a shower helps as well.


Solitude in the Shower

Admittedly, we are not always alone in the shower. It’s no surprise that creativity tends to avoid us during shared showers. However, showering alone creates the first step in ramping up creativity.

There’s no one else to listen to, tend to, carry on conversations with. We can sing if we feel like it, talk to ourselves or simply savor the silence. Alone we disconnect from everyone and everything else for a few minutes, except for the spray of hot water and the routine of shampooing hair and scrubbing skin.

Additionally, while showering we are not scrolling through Facebook or answering texts or posting to Instagram. Our outer world narrows down while our inner awareness and consciousness expands, creating the perfect incubator for fresh ideas.

And in that shower stall, we are less likely to encounter distractions.

Why Do Creative Ideas Come to Us in the Shower
Why do creative ideas come to us in the shower? Solitude creates space for creativity to emerge.

Free From Distractions

The small shower space insulates us from the outside world for a short time. Distractions that shift our attention disappear. This frees the mind to roam and flit from idea to idea, which is a great way to birth something amazing. Free from distractions, the brain gathers thoughts and ideas and connects them in interesting new ways.

The subconscious that busied itself problem solving can surface as the mind wanders, bringing solutions into awareness for consideration.

And the shower is an excellent location for daydreaming.  It’s the perfect time to wonder “what if?” and follow curiosity to see where it leads. With no one to judge our thoughts or ridicule our ideas, we can dream big and relax into the realm of unlimited possibilities.

No Distractions
Why do creative ideas come to us in the shower? No distractions.

A Relaxed State of Mind

The sound and warmth of the water, the clean scent of shampoo and the simple routine of showering soothe the mind into a relaxed state. The prefrontal cortex…the brain’s command center for decisions, goals and behavior…relaxes, clearing away old thought pathways while creating new ones.

Ideas arise that the conscious mind might otherwise dismiss. Crazy ideas, outrageous flashes of creativity and huge, scary possibilities form. The more we open to the “what ifs”, the bigger the ideas get.

I personally believe that the flow of water contributes to generating ideas while we are in a relaxed state of mind. Flowing water surrounds us in positive energy. It’s why the ocean inspires and waterfalls energize. In that small shower space, with water flowing over us, the mind that is open and relaxed is receptive to creativity.

When we are relaxed the brain responds by increasing the happiness factor.

Why Do Creative Ideas Come to Us in the Shower relaxation
Why do creative ideas come to us in the shower? We experience a relaxed state of mind.

Increased Happiness

While it’s not the strongest source of creativity, higher levels of happiness do spark creativity. Warm, relaxing showers encourage the brain to release the feel-good happiness hormone, dopamine. The more dopamine flowing through us, the more creative we become.

Dopamine also triggers alpha waves that ripple through the brain. They appear to increase creativity levels. And as a bonus, that blast of dopamine creates euphoria. When we are euphoric, we feel like we can pursue and develop creative ideas, even the wilds ones that push us beyond our comfort zones.

Why do creative ideas come to us in the shower? We feel happy.

Capturing Creative Ideas

I love that the idea for this post came to me in the shower. The questions that accompanied the idea activated curiosity, which led me to answers.

It’s important to act on the ideas we receive. Muse loves an active partner to co-create with. Capture ideas and look through them often, expanding on them until one takes hold and compels action.

My favorite form of keeping track of ideas is a simple notebook. I fill pages with all manner of creative ideas. As they develop and become goals or intentions, I transfer them into my planner and add them to digital vision boards.

I also use the voice dictation feature on my phone to capture ideas when I’m driving and the notes app is handy too. A small journal on my bedside table allows me to jot down ideas that arrive in the middle of the night.

Researching for this post, I discovered a wonderful item called Aqua Notes. These waterproof notepads with pens mount in the shower! Never lose a wonderful idea again.

Barry Kaufman, a cognitive scientist and co-author of “Wired to Create” , found during a study that 72% of the population receive creative ideas in the shower.

I am in that 72%. Are you? What’s the best creative idea you’ve had while showering?


Click on image to order your Aqua Notepad!


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Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On

I was still considering my Inspiration for today, as I moved into my studio this evening to work. Mulling over several possibilities, I turned on my Edison bulb in my creative corner, and sat beneath its golden glow. I had barely settled into my chair, when new inspiration struck. Seriously. I glanced in amazement at the light above me….and then quickly assembled what I needed for a fun little project.

Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On, Art a Little More Robust-Repurposing

I have my writing desk set up in a way that inspires me. My Taylor Kubicek art print is hung on the wall above the desk, and on the table top, Absolem the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland perches on his mushroom. I imagine him saying to me, as he peers through his monocle, “Who are you?” I have wanted to create a framed piece using his quote, to remind me daily that this is an important question. It is good for me to know who I am, and live from that certainty.

This evening, I received a very clear mental picture of what that artistic piece could look like. And for fun, I was to assemble it collage style, from cut out words. I love when an idea blooms in my fertile mind. It quickly grows, taking on a life of its own.

Who Are You - An Important Question from the Caterpillar

The hunt began, for the words Who, Are and You….and for a question mark. In a few moments, I had found Are and You, and a leaf cut out, all tucked within a drawer in my studio. I uncovered the perfect little frame in my studio too, just waiting for something creative to happen.

The challenge was finding the word Who and the question mark. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time searching. I was ready to create! I thumbed through several magazines and sorted through a stack of publications. Nothing. My mind returned again and again to a Doctor Who comic I had safely stashed in a drawer. Did I dare cut the word Who from it, and ruin the comic? As I slowly walked back to my studio, to do the deed, I spied an advertisement lying on the table, left over from Christmas time. Who’s Your Santa? was printed in several places on the publication. The Doctor Who comic was saved!

Who Are You, An Important Question from the Caterpillar

I remembered the set of vintage encyclopedias. A page about The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland was carefully removed and part of it became the background for the cut out words and the leaf. It was as I was adhering the cutouts on the page from the encyclopedia, that the magic happened. I had glued on the word ARE, when I noticed the quote within the article. From Shakespeare’s The Tempest, it says, We are such stuff as dreams are made on. 

I had not noticed the quote before then.

I was amazed. I sat quietly looking at the words, Who ARE YOU?, and there the answer was, between my cutouts, for I couldn’t cover the quote with the last word and the question mark.

Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On

“Who are you?” asks Absolem the caterpillar. “Who am I?” I answer,  “I am such stuff as dreams are made on. I turn dreams into reality, and birth ideas from my imagination. That’s who I am. Thank you for asking.” 

I think Absolem smiled. I know I did.

Who Are You, An Important Question from the Caterpillar