Why does it seem like we are more likely to come up with good ideas in the shower? A team of psychologists think that they know why. The team includes Ron Friedman Daniel Pink, Gretchen Rubin, Adam Grant, Susan Cain, and Scott Barry Kaufman.
At a recent summit, Kaufman explained a study where he discovered that people tend to get creative ideas in the shower more often than they otherwise would.
Kaufman said that the study “highlights the importance of relaxation for creative thinking.”
“The relaxing, solitary, and non-judgmental shower environment may afford creative thinking by allowing the mind to wander freely, and causing people to be more open to their inner stream of consciousness and daydreams,” he said
“I’ve done some research on showering. We did a multinational study and found that people reported more creative inspiration in their showers than they did at work. That’s really telling about how we think and find creativity,” he added.
Kaufman continued, “People can be really distracting, especially to introverts who have a very specific work style. … Regardless, the general disposition for both extroverts and introverts is figuring out ways to have sensory stimulation absent from the outside world, visualizing, and doing mindfulness practices that allow you to get in touch with yourself and understand your body, your feelings, and your thoughts. It helps when you rejoin the external context and try to make a connection. I fundamentally believe that creativity lies in that space between the inner and outer worlds.”
Brigid Schulte, author of “Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time,” agreed with Kaufman, saying that people need to relax in order to gain inspiration.
“It’s a very American thing; we want to be the best and we want to be hardworking, and I’m all for that. I’m not for us all becoming slackers, although strategic slacking is very important because it allows mind wandering, which is where you’re going to get your best insights. Your best insights come in the shower for a reason — your brain is wired for that to happen,” she said.
Friedman also concluded that the study’s results made sense.
“You need to create that space in your life, and that’s often what happens when we go into the shower. It’s one of those few moments when we’re not tied to our devices, so we have that extra space to find connections between ideas. If we’re not allowing that to happen in our lives, it’s just never going to work,” he said.