Let’s get one thing clear: the shower may be a great place to sing your heart out, but it’s even better to get those creative ideas flowing. Just think about it, you’re in an enclosed space with warm comforting water, and your mind is simply roaming where it wants to. Suddenly, you realize you’re doing much more than just mindlessly shampooing your hair — you’re allowing your brain to find brilliant fleeting thoughts you can’t wait to share with everyone else.
There’s one corner over on Reddit that eagerly waits for you to do so. Let us introduce you to the Shower Thoughts online group that serves as the perfect outlet to share those “miniature epiphanies you have that highlight the oddities within the familiar.” With over 24 million members, it has archived quite the collection of unexpected, hilarious, and profound Aha! moments.
We have scoured the community and gathered some of the best gems of wisdom that might leave you pondering all day, so have a read through them right below. Upvote the ones that surprised you most and share your own earth-shattering ideas with us in the comments! After you’re done musing about this compilation, be sure to check out our earlier parts of this post right here, here, and here.
The shower is one of the very few places where people can be alone with their thoughts. While it’s the perfect place to get some deep thinking done, the eureka effect occurs virtually anywhere we let our minds stay still. According to the moderators of the community, “‘Showerthought’ is a loose term that applies to the types of thoughts you might have while carrying out a routine task … At their best, showerthoughts are universally relatable and find the amusing/interesting within the mundane.” Whether it’s taking a long walk, meditating, or simply laying on the grass watching the clouds pass by, these are the calm moments that really rejuvenate the brain.
To learn more about how doing nothing can boost our creativity, we reached out to Nancy K. Napier, Ph.D., a Distinguished Professor Emerita at Boise State University and author of Unfolding Curiosity: Wrinkles and Surprises from Business and Beyond. “Several authors, including one of my favorites — Pico Iyer — talk about the value of stillness, of silence, of doing nothing,” she told CNN News.
According to the professor, even when we think we’re doing nothing, our brains keep on buzzing. “I’ve begun strength training and have learned that you should do it one day and then ‘rest’ the next, to give your muscles time to readjust, recover, and revive,” she said. But when it comes to exercising our minds, we bend over backward to get those brain cells going and often forget to give our thoughts a breather. “I feel that way when I ‘do nothing’ in my work or thinking — it gives my mind some time to readjust (to not pushing so hard), to recover (from hard work and thinking), and to revive (and play with something that may not have had a chance to pop up),” Napier explained.
The professor suspects that if we let our minds rest during work hours, just as we have a “rest day” in exercise, we’ll see benefits and perhaps generate new ideas fairly quickly. After all, nearly everyone knows how drained we feel after several hours of tiring consecutive work. Then, coming up with beautiful innovative ideas is far from an easy task. But if we pause regularly during the day and give our brains a little break from thinking, we might avoid hitting creative burnout.
“Years ago, I worked with a group of faculty members (five of us, very different fields, ways of thinking) to design a new academic program. We started with an empty whiteboard for every meeting. After a few false starts, we learned to trust that we would have some great ideas by the end of each meeting. By removing the expectation and pressure of being creative, we became dramatically more competent at finding ideas. We allowed ‘nothing’ to be our starting point and that freed us to generate some great (and many not-so-great) ideas,” Napier added.
Unfortunately, the modern world makes it hard for our minds to wander into the wilderness of unrelated thoughts. We’re constantly bombarded by daunting headlines, interrupted by our ringing devices, and feeling the weight of our personal and professional responsibilities every second of the day. So even when we strive to be peaceful and at ease, we find it extremely difficult to do so. Luckily for us, Napier explained that increasing our creativity doesn’t require much effort.
“I have a brutal commute from my home to my office — in heavy traffic, it can be….nine minutes! I’m lucky, of course, but realized a few years ago that even that amount of time could help me ‘do nothing’ and become more creative,” she said and added that simply driving in silence to a place she knows how to get to without thinking made a huge difference. “I generated ideas, I solved problems, I came up with new dinner meals… It’s a very simple act that I’ve recommended to many people who have real commutes — 20 or 30 or 45 minutes.”
However, turning off the audio book or radio can be challenging for many people, so she suggests starting with one day a week or in the evenings on the way home. “Now that we’re working from home more, however, it seems harder to find that clear cut quiet or ‘nothing time,'” Napier noted. “I’ve been trying (not fully successfully, I’ll admit) to take 30 minutes after my morning work time to just lie down, go into that semi-sleep mode, and boom, good ideas seem to come then. Once again, by giving my brain a little ‘downtime,’ it continues to work but maybe goes at its own pace and then drops some creativity on its own time.”
Napier pointed out that to become better at doing nothing, we have to “find activities that don’t require heavy thought and use that as a time to let your brain wander; or have a set routine or habit that builds in some snippets of downtime.” The professor mentioned several pockets of time that allows her to be in a relaxed state, have a distracted mind and let her imaginations run free. For example, her commute, taking a shower and making a coffee or a tea are short periods of time when she doesn’t have to think.
Moreover, she sets the alarm to work for 40 minutes and then stop for 10, using that as downtime. “Some people lie down on a yoga mat and just meditate or sleep; ironing (20 minutes); laundry folding (5-10 minutes). Then, there are the specific gifts of time I offer to myself — when I declare I’ll take an hour in the day to look at the clouds or birds,” she said and added that while this doesn’t happen often enough, she continues to work on it.
“I suspect now, more than ever, we need the self-care of doing nothing now and then, and we need to make it something that happens regularly, not just when we’re forced into it (when we get sick, injured),” Napier told us. So our advice for you today, dear readers, is to allow yourselves to be bored and witness how quickly you can come up with fascinating and deep musings. If you have any other ideas on how to get better at doing absolutely nothing, let us know about them in the comments!
Note: this post originally had 37 images. It’s been shortened to the top 35 images based on user votes.