The development of new ideas can be spontaneous, unbidden, disorganized and random; or, disciplined, focused, logical and specific. “Too many” ideas can create a burden for the brilliant among us by interfering with their more mundane but necessary thought processes and cluttering their mental attics. The majority of us suffer from the opposite. We need more ideas, especially more good ideas, solutions for our problems and pathways for our opportunities.
The folklore of good ideas popping into our heads at 3:00 AM or in the middle of a shower are true. Warm water messaging our heads increases our isolation from the constraints imposed by reality. As stresses and strains, worries and pre-occupations of daily life recede, the brain relaxes and expands its reach.According to Ajay Sharma in Freethinker, “The sprinkling of water soothes your body muscles and relaxes your mind. It delivers you (to) a deeper state of consciousness.
“You come up with a connection to two or more unrelated complex ideas or problems. You find an answer to an already well thought out and vexing question. You can re-locate your lost things. You get an insight into a random idea you were thinking about a fortnight before.”
Scientists think that a shower can activate a state of minimal mental activity called Default Mode Network—where unrelated ideas normally held in separate silos are free to collide, forming new associations. This may be related to increased levels of dopamine caused by the relaxing sense of peace and isolation.
We can encourage an unstructured form of creativity by deliberately relaxing for a minute or two as warm water massages our heads. Leave the problems of the day aside and just relax. But remember to jot down the new idea as soon as you can; as our minds return to the “real world” they often leave their new creations behind.
But what to do when we need a new idea right now? A proven approach is to brainstorm with yourself by creating an inducement for your mind to roam, to be as unconstrained as possible. One way to do this is a four-step process.
Remove external distractions
Hold a pencil above a completely blank piece of paper
Jot down whatever ideas come to mind
Do this for 15 minutes or so. At the end you should have a rough diamond or two, an idea or a clue that will solve a problem or improve an opportunity. We use exactly this approach when creating or fixing a particularly complex item in a form.