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Where the Best Ideas Come From

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

Have you ever thought about the fact that ideas don’t come from inside our brains? They actually come from outside of us, usually from our experiences and our social interactions with those around us.

So let me ask you this: where do YOUR aha moments come from?

Give me a nod or a high five if you find your best ideas come:

1. While you’re in the bath or shower.

2. While you’re taking a walk.

3. While you’re speaking with a friend or colleague.

If so, you’re not alone. There’s a reason why great ideas come to us in these three scenarios, so let’s take a look at all three and discover why that is.

First, let’s talk about showers and bathtubs.

Here’s a fun fact: cognitive scientists like Scott Barry Kaufman tell us that 72% of people get creative ideas while in the bath or shower. Seriously! That’s nearly 3 out of every 4 people. And you thought it was just you!

In a multinational study conducted by Kaufman and his team, he found that we consider showers and baths to be a safe space where we’re transported into a dopamine high. And not only that, our brains also tend to be more relaxed when we’re bathing and that leads to a distracted state of mind. And those three ingredients are key for idea generation. Safety, relaxation and distraction.

The second popular place where people find new ideas is while they’re out for a walk.

Science tells us that walking gives our brains a boost since it naturally releases important, idea-generating chemicals: one is a protein that nourishes and energizes our neurons and the other is a hormone that helps produce a sense of calm and well-being. And as we’ve already discussed, our best ideas tend to come to us when we’re relaxed and the creativity is able to flow more freely.

On a related note, in 2014, Stanford University released a study that showed that our creative output as humans increases an average of 60% when we take a 30-minute walk. That’s right – we’re 60% more creative when we’re moving!

That probably explains why so many big companies like Apple and Porsche encourage walking meetings, rather than conducting sit-down meetings with their employees. And the reason is that we come up with more innovative solutions when we’re on the move.

By the way, the same experts tell us that a morning walk is more productive than walking at any other time of the day. So why not give it a try?

Finally, another great place to find the best ideas is through conversations with friends and colleagues.

So here’s something you may not have thought about before. And that is that when we’re sharing our ideas with others, we’re hearing ourselves say them out loud! Sometimes for the first time. And that in itself can spark clarity and creativity within our brains.

So be sure to start building a tribe today if you don’t already have one -- and stay connected to others who can help collaborate with you when it come your new ideas or ventures. And keep in mind that conversations with others are a great source of idea generation.

To learn more, listen in to Episode 57 of the Power Your Platform Podcast.

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