The Science Behind Creative Ideas

The Science Behind Creative Ideas

Ever wonder why some of your best ideas seem to come out of the blue (while you’re in the shower, for example)? Creativity, while seemingly a very vague activity, is actually a distinct process triggered by a few key factors.

Picture: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock

Leo Widrich explains the science of creativity on the Buffer blog. Essentially, our brains give us our best ideas when:

  • A lot of dopamine is released in our brains. Triggers like exercising, listening to music, and, yes, taking a warm shower, contribute to increased dopamine flow.
  • We’re relaxed. When we have a relaxed state of mind, we’re more likely to turn attention inwards, able to make insightful connections. We’ve seen before how being drunk and sleepy are great for creativity.
  • We’re distracted. Distraction gives our brains a break so our subconscious can work on a problem more creatively. (This is similar to John Cleese’s advice to let your ideas bake.)

A dopamine high, relaxed state and distracted mind: No wonder great ideas happen in the shower.

The most important lesson from this is to make sure you have a way to capture your ideas whenever and wherever they happen. If you’re a think-in-the-shower kind of person, there’s Aqua Notes.

Check out the full post on Buffer for more ideas on how to optimise your creative opportunities. Still not sure when creativity happens most often for you? Here’s how to find your creative sweet spot.

Why we have our best ideas in the shower: The science of creativity [Buffer]


  • Contributing to the shower idea phenomenon, it’s to do with increased oxygen circulation.

    In any shower, rain or otherwise, ions in the air become negatively charged. These attract dust and other impurities to stick to the ions, and once they get heavy, the ions drag the dirt and dust to the ground, leaving the air clear and fresh.

    This clear air helps deliver a higher concentration of oxygen around our bodies and to our brain.

    That’s why we have some of our best thoughts in the shower 🙂

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