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timtrueman's avatar

What is it about the shower that acts as such a strong catalyst for good ideas?

Asked by timtrueman (5748points) March 13th, 2010

It’s not that I don’t have good ideas at other times but why is the shower such a nexus for thinking?

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35 Answers

Draconess25's avatar

I guess that the hot steam clears your head.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Proximity to the toilet.

tripe's avatar

It’s relaxing.

thriftymaid's avatar

I supposed just being relaxed allows your mind to be crafty.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I think it’s because of the nature of a shower. You’re not really doing much, so your mind is free to think, but you’re doing just enough so that you’re not preoccupied with doing nothing. Also, you’re not worried about doing other things while you could be showering. Showering is necessary so it’s not as if you’re skipping out on other important activities to do something frivolous.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

Interesting, I’m the same way too. It may have something to do with the fact that showers are usually taken in the morning, when you have your whole day ahead of you. You get to think clear thoughts before you have to go to work, deal with potentially upsetting people, etc. Also, you get a moment to enjoy some seclusion. With a few minutes in a relaxing environment with little else to do, your mind is free to wander where it wants.

Just a thought, maybe I’ll take a shower and ponder it some more.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think the droning sound of water hitting the shower floor helps, along with the steam and the fact that you’ve been washing yourself for so long, you don’t have to focus on what you’re doing so your mind can just go.

J0E's avatar

You’re in a relaxed and comfortable environment with nothing else to do, granted you aren’t in a hurry, so your mind wanders. Good ideas are usually not forced.

timtrueman's avatar

Are there any scientific studies or reasons that explain why?

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Ahhhh…haha…good thing I read these posts. My mind went in a another direction. oops…..

dpworkin's avatar

It feels intensely private. I think that’s why we feel free to sing badly, too.

starshine's avatar

well you’re standing naked in a room by yourself(maybe) with water pouring down on you. If you were any other place, in the same bodily situation (naked) you would probably be thinking of other things, but because you’re in a place you consider safe, your mind is free to flow. Also the shower is pretty sweet invention, great idea spawns great ideas?
I just realized the whole first half of this barely makes any sense. oh well.

Trillian's avatar

@dpworkin Whaddya mean “we”? I’ll have you know I sing in the shower, and the word is not “badly”, it’s… hmmmm. Maybe it is “badly”.
Ok, your point. ;-)

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

I think the seclusion is a big part of it. I often find that when I’m driving alone (in areas without high traffic, and when I’m not in a rush to get someplace) that I have similar sorts of thoughts.

@timtrueman I tried, but had no luck finding scientific studies about this.

timtrueman's avatar

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities Thank you for trying. I like the idea about being alone when it happens. I also can get lots of good ideas while driving alone (as long as there isn’t traffic—otherwise I just get frustrated).

J0E's avatar

@timtrueman Yes, driving is a huge help when I need to think. I agree about the being alone part.

tinyfaery's avatar

Maybe it’s something about being present in the moment. You are not inside your head. You are using your senses and muscle memory and your mind is allowed to drift. It’s almost like meditation.

nikipedia's avatar

I agree with what’s been said—you have nothing to distract you (phone, computer, books, shiny objects) so it’s just you and your thoughts. Same goes for driving and running, for me. (One of my profs has said that most of his best scientific ideas came while running.)

I also did a search and came up empty handed. But it made me think that you might be interested in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his work on flow, if you’re not already familiar.

janbb's avatar

Just took a shower so that I could come up with a brilliant answer. Didn’t work but I will pass the sniff test now.

Draconess25's avatar

@janbb I just took a shower, & all I could think about was sex.

Fenris's avatar

Its zen meditation with hot water. It’s like diesel fuel for the brain.
@draconess25 : I’m willing to help you extrapolate on this idea further ^_^

Draconess25's avatar

@Fenris I have a girlfriend already, but I think one of my friends might like you….XD

Fenris's avatar

@Draconess25 : Guide me to her! We shall explore the ways of sexy shower zen together!

Everyone go explore sexy shower zen, it will make your brains richer!

liminal's avatar

I am sure it has something to with my having short term memory issues and no pen.

mrrich724's avatar

I think it’s b/c you are doing an automated task, you’ve showered every day (or nearly) of your life. So it requires little to know brain function, which frees up your mind to think about creative things rather than engaging in whatever distractions present themselves to you in daily life.

ETpro's avatar

Great question! My best guess is it’s the fact there is nothing in there to write them down on.

finkelitis's avatar

The mathematician Poincare has a great essay he writes about this kind of thing. Roughly, the creative process happens in two stages, one where you submerge yourself in the workings of whatever you’re learning about, and another where you have to relax and let inspiration come.

Essentially, the unconscious mind is the source of the great insight (which Poincare argues it arrives at by chance, at some level), but you have to allow your conscious mind to relax to let it through. Poincare had one of his great ideas when he was stepping on a bus. Einstein reportedly would doze off with objects in his hands that would fall and wake him up, so he could write down whatever was in his mind at the moment of falling asleep. I think the shower fits the bill as a perfect place to relax and let whatever is percolating in the mind come to you.

Central here though is a response to our assumption that we can think our way to good ideas. In fact, we can only think our way to prepare our mind to have good ideas. Then we have to relax. You can’t force it.

Draconess25's avatar

@Fenris She has no brains to make richer…...

Allie's avatar

Introducing AquaNotes.
Also, @nikipedia, we watched a TED Talk about Mihaly in class.

jlm11f's avatar

Didn’t Benjamin come up with the idea for Fluther in the shower?

janbb's avatar

@PnL I need some place I can stop Fluthering and think of something else! :-)

ETpro's avatar

@Zen_Again Now that is a must-have. Am I on anyone’s gift list? :-)

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