This morning in the shower I had an idea for a project I might try to take on, and a few other valuable ideas, and some useful introspection that all came within a span of a few minutes while showering. These led to a literal “shower thought” today about the nature of shower thoughts. In reflecting on why I was experiencing this sudden burst of creativity, a few things came to mind.
Yesterday and the day before I had the privilege of attending a prestigious and incredible conference with leaders in my field from around the world. It was absolutely inspiring, energizing, and enlightening. From the first talk at the event through the end I’ve felt more energized, creative, and motivated than I have in a long time. The information and positive energy were incredibly valuable.
During my commutes, while getting ready in the morning, and occasionally while working, I’ve also been listening to a lot of Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, Jordan Harbinger, and Tom Bilyeu. If you’re interested in improving yourself, doing better work, and learning about people, I highly recommend all of these as resources. I’ve also been doing a lot of good reading lately.
I’ve also been eating very healthfully over the last few days. I generally try to eat very healthfully – “…by such a prudent and well regulated course of discipline as may best conduce to the preservation of your corporeal and mental faculties…” – but the last few days have been exceptional in the variety, quality, and nature of food I’ve been eating. The conference did a great job with their spreads, including lots of greens, vegetables, berries, whole grains, etc., and I’ve managed to eat well for the few meals leading up to and in-between the conference meals.
I also got some solid, and well-needed sleep last night for the first time in a few nights, so I was well rested and felt great.
All of these factors combined set the stage for some great creativity and clarity of thought, giving me an opportunity for some quality thought when I slowed down to let my brain do its own thing. And that’s where the shower thoughts come in.
In my post about Think Like a Freak, I discussed its message about the value of thought, and the fact that we don’t spend as much time thinking, performing actual quality thought as we should. To some extent, I think this is why we tend to have so many insights in the shower or during otherwise mundane, disengaging activities. Most of the day we’re busy engaging our mind – we’re reading, watching TV, playing games, working, driving, exercising, preparing food or eating, talking, listening, and otherwise keeping our mind occupied by the task at hand, rarely giving our brain a chance to process everything we’re giving it.
Rest, nutrition, stimulation and information, environment, and emotional state all play a role in the quality of thought we’re going to perform, but we have to take the time out to actually let ourselves think by removing the stimuli that keep our minds busy in the moment. This is why I think shower thoughts can be so insightful – it’s one of the few activities we do in the course of the day that provides very little mental stimulation, while providing just enough physical stimulation to keep our brain somewhat active. I’ve heard many people recommend walking for the same reason, and plan to prioritize making the time to walk more for this reason.
I’m planning on starting a more deliberate and routine practice of meditation and other mindfulness practices and look forward to developing those skills and seeing what they yield. If you aren’t very familiar with these sorts of practices, consider checking out the Headspace App, which offers some simple, short guided meditation practices that serve as a great introduction. If you want to be in the habit of eating more healthfully or improving your relationship to food (for me, food definitely falls under the category of “the vices and superfluities of this life” of which I’ve still got some rough corners to break off) you might also check out the Mindfull Meal Challenge. I’ve also got these two books on the way –
While I’ve got a few other things in my queue before I’ll get to these, I hope to have them finished before a trip in early August when I’ll have an opportunity to try an isolation tank for the first time and hope to make the most of that experience utilizing some meditation before the float.