Imagine this: Your boss asks for interesting ideas for a new project…and you blackout. Suddenly, everything you’ve ever known seems like a joke, let alone thinking of “new ideas”. You bang your head on the table, play around with a stress ball, and scroll through random Google results for inspiration. But you get nothing. You begin to question your existence.
Later that night, you’re taking a shower and washing your armpits and aha! You have a light-bulb moment! A brilliant idea pops up! And you also remember that your Ex from 10th grade still owes you 100 bucks.
How do the best ideas come to us while taking a shower…11 hours after our boss asked for it?
We tend to think that the desk is where our minds work at its best, that we’ll have a remarkable creative epiphany just by staring at our computer screens sipping our 4th cup of coffee. However, great ideas come to us not when we force our minds to work, but while doing the most random things – taking a shower, walking around the park, or washing dirty dishes.
I’m not kidding! Taylor Swift gets her songs from her dreams. She has also been spotted scribbling lyrics on pieces of tissues in cafés. Filmmaker David Lynch gets his ideas from sipping chocolate shake at a roadside diner. Maya Angelou preferred writing her poems in dirty hotel rooms.
John Rink, Professor of Musical Performance Studies at Cambridge University, had once said that musicians are not at their creative peak when they are playing an instrument or singing.
“What we are finding is that even fairly mundane activities can feed into the discovery of new insight, new knowledge and new means of expressing ideas in all sorts of ways,” he said.
Beethoven had confessed that some of his best ideas came to him during his daily outdoor walks. Mozart’s favourite workspace was an open garden.
The mind works best while performing mundane tasks and not during forceful thinking. And there is some major science action happening that explains this situation.
Research suggests that activities like walking in the park on a bright sunny day, warm showers, and sipping hot chocolate with marshmallows releases a lot of happy hormones a.k.a dopamine in our bodies. And it is dopamine that gives us a major creativity boost.
The time when we are chilled out and not stressing about work is the time when the brain’s prefrontal cortex – the bit which does all the decision making – relaxes. The brain then tends to focus more on the inside and ideas start coming to us which previously were dismissed by our conscious minds.
At work, when we are deeply engrossed with a particular project or task, our mind tends to dismiss any unconventional, out-of-the-box, creative ideas that may come to us and focus on what we have in hand. It is when we are relaxed that all the insightful knowledge of the universe starts hitting us and our inner Plato is awakened.
Dr. Shelley Carson from Harvard found out that all artists have one thing in common – they are easily distracted. And things like warm showers, long evening walks, and nature does just that – it distracts you. If you unleash that brain of yours and let it roam around a little, it will fetch you those magic beans.
So, if you’re suffering from writer’s block and are unable to finish composing that song, just hop into your car and venture into the wild. You’re most likely to find inspiration there. And hey! Wouldn’t that make jammin’ all the more fun? 😉