Power ShowersWhy good ideas flow under water.

Power ShowersWhy good ideas flow under water.

Whether you’ve just woken up or are about to go to bed, are sweaty from a run or need to warm up after a cold walk home, showers are a rejuvenating joy. They can also be a great place to think. According to a 2016 study by cognitive scientist Scott Barry Kaufman, 72 percent of people have their best ideas in the shower. If Reddit is anything to go by, they have weird ideas as well as good ones. The online forum’s “showerthoughts” community is home to 16.3 million people sharing their “miniature epiphanies.” Posts on the thread range from the existential: “You have existed since the beginning of the universe, but only realized it when you gained consciousness,” to the very silly: “The trees cut down to make Jenga blocks are repeatedly forced to relive their own death.” Or, as Snoop Dogg once informed his Twitter followers: “I just sat in the shower for an hour thinking about how Mercedes has 3 E’s all pronounced differently.”

Why is the shower such a good place for innovative, meaningful or just downright absurd thoughts? Could it be the meditative flow of water? Or perhaps the upright stance inspires an active mind (unlike a bath, where your horizontal position encourages slothfulness in mind and body). Perhaps it is both. And since certain aromas are thought to promote memory and alertness, using a shampoo that smells of rosemary, say, can’t hurt either. Kaufman, speaking at a summit on “peak work performance” has another explanation: “The relaxing, solitary and non-judgmental shower environment may afford creative thinking by allowing the mind to wander freely,” opening people up to their inner consciousness. Other scientists have credited dopamine—the “happy hormone.” Often present when we have our best ideas, it can apparently be triggered by warm showers.

A shower is a total shift of pace and tone from whatever has gone before and, even if you have to make it snappy, you can usually switch to autopilot so that you’re not thinking about the act of washing while doing it. It’s one time of the day when checking your phone is challenging, as are other distractions like TV, radio and conversation. Short or long, your shower is an opportunity for your mind to meander.

Got some thinking to do? Perhaps it’s time to turn on the taps.

You are reading a complimentary story from Issue 32

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