You’re lying there, drifting off to sleep, feeling every muscle in your body to relax, when it hits you:
“Why isn’t 11 pronounced onety one?”
Maybe you’re in the shower, eyes closed as you rinse the shampoo out of your hair, enjoying the warm water on your face, when bang!
“Why isn’t there a mouse flavoured cat food?”
Or, if you’re anything like me, you are draped deeply into a particularly stretchy downward dog, really digging those Tibetan singing bowl sounds, when you snap your eyes open, and think:
“If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how will anyone ever know?”
If this sounds familiar, fear not. There is logic behind this completely illogical thought process, and it’s called having an ‘unloaded mind’.
Simply put, when your mind is ’empty’, more creative thoughts flourish.
In fact, there is a whole Reddit thread dedicated to ‘Shower Thoughts’, brimming with corkers such as “Why don’t we get an employee discount at the self checkout?”, or “It’s weird how yogurt is almost exclusively advertised to women.”
Basically, when you are not problem solving multiple concepts or challenges in your mind at any one time (When is the next train? What’s for dinner? Did I call back Dad? When is that project due? Do we have any milk left?), you actually have room for original and conceptual thinking.
Is parenthood bad for creativity? (Post continues after video)
Research from the University in Israel found that the people with the highest mental loads gave basic replies to questions when their mind was ‘loaded’ with other information, such as numbers or words. For example, when asked for word association for “white”, they would respond with “black”.
But those with ‘unloaded’, or ’empty’ minds gave far more creative responses; such as responding to the “white” word association with the word “cloud”.
“The study attests to what he takes to be the exploratory nature of the mind,” reports Psychological Science magazine, “seeking novelty when it’s unencumbered, but turning to the “most familiar and inevitably least interesting solution” when occupied.”