GOOD

Looking for The Creative Spark That Fuels Innovation? Take a Shower

How personal hygiene, blue paint, and laughing babies might help you think up the Next Big Thing.


In a creative rut? That lightbulb just not burning so bright? "Creativity is just connecting things," Steve Jobs said famously. Well, that sounds simple enough, but what about when you find yourself bumping up against a wall. There are ways to take action to get you back on the road towards those Big Ideas, points out NPR's Sarah Zielinski. Showering, she writes:

might help spur creative thoughts, as the mind wanders from "lather-rinse-repeat" to a recent problem, and then back again. There's even history to back this up. As the ancient Greek engineer Vetruvius told us, Archimedes was lounging in a public bath when he noticed the water level go up and down as people got in and out. He suddenly realized that water could help him calculate the density of gold.


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Zielinsky makes the case for other creativity boosters, among them: work in a blue room (it triggers calm and tranquility) and stamp your passport (people who have lived abroad perform better on creative tasks). Also, don't forget to watch a funny video. Apparently YouTube clips of laughing babies are really good for creativity. If only that tool had been available to Archimedes, who knows what his mind would have accomplished.

Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works has his own short list of tips for generating the creative spark, including playing ping-pong and diversifying your social network. But at the top of his list, just like Zielinsky's, is taking a long shower. "Creative minds are rarely tidy,"goes the old adage. Perhaps, but apparently the bodies carrying around those creative brains are squeaky clean.

Photo (cc) Flickr user espensorvik

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