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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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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