How to stimulate your creative mind through your environment

This post is about finding different places that aid your creative work and stimulate creative thoughts. Being stuck in the same place can leave you in a creative rut with no inspiration to execute your creative work.


The major disadvantages creative people face in a mundane environment is a lack of novel stimuli or too much distraction by things that are unimportant. Think about all the times you tried to do some creative work at home and were distracted by the fridge, some paper on the floor, or some other irrelevant thing that you never got around to dealing with. You are surrounded by so many mundane tasks that are calling for your attention that your own thoughts start to become mundane. That’s why I’ve come up with 5 places you can go to stimulate creative thoughts, generate new ideas, and help you with your creative work.


1. The shower

Psychologist Scott Kaufman has conducted research that shows that 72% of people think of more creative thoughts and come up with new ideas in the shower. Although this research was conducted for a company releasing a range of showers, I think many of us have experienced an increase of daydreaming while in the shower ourselves.

This daydream-like-state is perfect for coming up with new ideas because you are relaxed (not focused), comfortable (not threatened by your surroundings), and you are slowly moving through the dialog of your inner voice (exploring your creative inner world). Showers seem like the type of environment to provide such elements and to allow for creative thinking to take place.

Even business people have installed shower stalls in their office to use as a space to think and generate ideas. Author Henriette Anne Klauser talks about how her friend did this in her book Write It Down, Make It Happen.

So why might showers induce a creative state of mind? Besides feeling relaxed and comfortable, I have a feeling it has something to do with the constant flow and motion of the water. After all, I don’t hear anyone saying they get creative ideas while sitting in a bathtub – the water is too still. I’d guess that the continual flow of the water is in natural harmony with our inner dialog and the cadence of our inner voice. This seems to be why others have suggested that walking induces creative thoughts.

I’d also speculate that as we have adapted to the world, that our nervous system has adapted in such a way that our inner dialog functions in accordance to our natural surroundings, which flowing water would have commonly featured. Hence, our inner dialog naturally flows when there is flowing water.

Regardless of how showers spark creative ideas, many others including myself have experienced these wonderful streams of creative thought. I usually take a 10-15 minute shower (but I don’t time it as it’s just a place to zone out), alternate between steaming hot and freezing cold, do some stretches in there, wash my body, talk to myself, and most of all imagine new and innovative ideas. I’d recommend trying it out.

I also found this waterproof notepad for capturing your ideas in the shower before you forget them. 

Question: Have any creative-shower-experiences that you’d like to share? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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2. The shopping center

I’ve written the outline and even some of the core content of many of my blog posts in the shopping center (including the outline for this post). Ideas can strike at any moment so you have to be prepared, even in the shopping center.

I found that many ideas would come to me while I was aimlessly walking around at the shopping center. I’d often have to be alone so that I could take my time and just be in my own world as I walk around looking at random products in stores.

So why would the shopping center induce a creative state of mind? I think it has something to do with the small bouts of novelty from the new products and new people within the environment that stimulate my inner world to generate new ideas. I also think it has something to do with feeling slightly distracted and detached from reality. I am not focused on obtaining a particular product, rather the aimlessness of my browsing keeps me in my own world, and enables me to daydream and create my own narrative.

If you do decide to go to the shopping center to walk around and think up of some new ideas then take your phone or a notepad so you can write down your ideas as you walk around. I find myself stopping in the middle of the walkway to quickly type down my ideas into my phone.

Sometimes I pause in a shop for ages and just stand there thinking until I’ve solidified the thought and written it down. In those moments, when the creative insight hits in the middle of the shopping center, no one else really exists. I am just in my own daydream world, on a mission to find great ideas. I can hear everyone else out there, but it’s as if I am in my own bubble of ideas.

If you decide to give this a try, be aware that people might end up speaking to you because you’ve been hanging around the shop for a bit longer than other people usually would. This might spark an interesting interaction or conversation with someone that informs your creative work.


3. Nature

Going out into nature is so refreshing that it has an instant gratification that rekindles your inner love for your natural surroundings. This sense of awe and beauty from nature is something that can get your creative juices going.

Something that I find that stimulates my mind a lot in nature is the different kinds of animals. They are usually very interesting creatures in how they move about and interact with one another. It makes me think about their social dynamic and their relationship to myself and how they view me according to their experience as an animal.

Nature also makes me think about science and how the trees grow and how the natural processes are functioning around me. I also think about philosophical questions and I wonder why anything exists at all.

I find that some of the deepest creative thoughts come while in nature because there is no real culture such as shops, food, or other people to distract you. The social world is suspended as other people are not usually out in nature, and the natural world, along with spiritual thoughts, are more readily available and top of mind.

So if you are looking to induce creative thoughts about the natural world, or creative thoughts that are of a more spiritual nature, then try going outside and going for a walk in nature. Go find some animals, find some nice trees, listen to the wind, look at the sky, find some natural water, pick out a rock or a stick to carry for a while, and rest on some grass. All these little things help stimulate your creative thinking as you relax and daydream.


4. The library

Sometimes you don’t want any distractions at all, you just want your own creative mind and a quiet blank space to think and come up with ideas. The library is perfect for that.

There are still lots of interesting and novel ideas on the bookshelves, waiting for you to read and explore. But then you can go away and curl up in your quiet little corner or desk in the library and just create whatever you want without distractions.

Another great thing about the library for generating creative thoughts and ideas is that you can spend a long time at the library. To get the most creative ideas you have to spend a long time generating them, incubating them, and expanding on them. Unlike most of the other places on this list, the library will allow you to spend an enormous amount of time there – in comfort.

You aren’t expected to buy any of the books so you can just relax, sit around, read, write, draw, look at the art scattered around the place, or research on your laptop. You can also usually take a break and go to the toilet or get something to eat and go straight back to your creative zone. Whereas if you are in nature you don’t have these luxuries to keep you going, you’ll eventually have to go home to get a snack, some water, or do a number two – but at the library, you can do all your business there.

Working in the library also means you can use your laptop and phone while keeping them charged. That’s if they are actually assisting you in being creative. If not, ditch them and go pen and pad for a while.

The library, in my mind, is my own personal creative workplace, it allows me to get a lot of creative work done, instead of being cooped up at home. I’ve never gone to the library with the intent of creating something and came home empty handed. There is something about going to the library that tricks my mind into thinking, “it’s time to get down to work and create something!”

Try it out and see if it works for you.


5. The bookshop

I use to spend at least an hour and sometimes up to four hours in the bookstore. I just love stimulating my mind with all the new and interesting books that have come out.

The bookstore is a place of great novelty as there is likely to be a butt-ton of books you’ve never read before. Whereas the library had the old classics, the bookshop has the classics and the newest editions to tickle your mind.

The bookshop also has the distinct difference of having people slightly distract you, as it’s not as quiet as the library. This can be good because you can tap into people’s conversations, and these conversations are usually pretty interesting as I’ve found bookstores to attract some interesting people.

You might also bump into people who are looking at similar books to you and you can start a conversation yourself. I’ve had a few conversations with people both young and old at the bookstore – sometimes I even got their phone number. Again, anything to stimulate your little noodle!

Question: Which places stimulate your creative thoughts the most? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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