I’m sure many of you have heard the cliché “I always come up with my best ideas in the shower.” I believe I just realized why that is.
I live in my own studio apartment in LA right now, and do not own a television. I have had some of my most profound thoughts over the past few months in that environment. These ideas have not only improved my life, but are also leading to widespread changes for many others as well.
When I visit family and friends in New York, I get a chance to watch the football highlights on Sportscenter the way I used to when I was a kid. After living without a television for some time, I realized something profound the next morning: having the television on from the moment I woke up was so distracting, that it was drowning out my ability to think for myself. This is something that I’m sure happens to many of us so often, but I was able to recognize it only through the basis of comparison. If watching television and listening to the radio during all of your free time is the norm you have always abided by, you wouldn’t even realize how much more clarity you can have by spending some time away from them. Now it completely makes sense to me why our best ideas come in the shower. There is no one to talk to in there. There are no radio hosts, television shows, commercials, billboards, or other things to consume our mental energy. In the shower, for the few minutes that we are in there, there is nothing else to do except to think for ourselves.
I notice personally that when I spend the first hour or so of my day clearing my mind, meditating, focusing on my goals, exercising, and then listening to certain types of music that I love, I come up with amazing ideas that blow me away. It is quite simple actually: all it takes is a commitment to spend a little bit of time each day away from the distractions, and breaking our addiction to needing electronic devices 24/7 that cloud our minds in this day and age.
When we have the television on all the time, our cell phones constantly ringing, and are running around non-stop, we forget to schedule some time to just relax and reflect on life by ourselves. Sometimes, we have deep conversations with others about life; but most of the time, the conversations we have with others deal with surface level matter: errands we have to run, surface level problems we are having, and gossip that is happening in our lives or on television. Perhaps this is why many people find that they constantly face the same types of problems over and over again in their lives. We spend all of our free time during the day complaining to everyone we know about a certain situation, when we could easily resolve it by simply being honest with ourselves, and trying to figure out what behaviors we are personally taking to put ourselves in those situations in the first place.
What we rarely do is take the time to zoom out, and look at the big picture. It is very beneficial to see things from a different light; to take a look at the path our behaviors are leading us down over the long term, and see where we can change for the better to give ourselves better results.
When we don’t take the time to stop and think for ourselves for at least a little while each day or week, we become victims of our bad habits. The only way to break bad habits that are holding us back from achieving all of the things we deserve is to a) figure out what they are, b) admit to ourselves that they actually do exist, c) figure out why they are there and where we picked them up, and d) then figure out how to set up conditions in life that will redirect our energy to more efficient habits, until we start doing them automatically without having to think about it consciously.
On a higher level: when we don’t stop to think for ourselves, we can never innovate. Innovation is so important, because it is the way to create the life you want. It involves looking at everything the way it is, seeing what you can do better in certain ways, and seeing what should be completely eliminated from your life. It is about figuring out your passions in life, and putting effort into them constantly, until you discover new breakthroughs that allow you to live a life where all of your time is spent doing only things you are passionate about, in a career you are passionate about, around the people you want to spend time with, in places you love. When we don’t take the time to innovate, we are simply following the ideas that are suggested to us unconsciously by those around us; and also through those pesky billboards, mass media, and so on. External influences can get into your mind so quickly that you may have trouble stopping to think: is this idea really in my best interests long term? Do I even know what vision I have for my life in the long term so I can check to see if the actions I am taking on a daily basis are leading me in that direction? Is it possible that there is a much more direct route that I have overlooked?
All of the external sources of information in our lives have their own personal agendas that serve their own purposes. I’m not trying to say that this is a good or bad thing; I’m just stating what is. But there is one purpose that none of these external sources serve – that is to help you get to a place that is ideal for yourself. That is because nobody knows where you belong or what you want better than you do! In fact, several years ago, I found that the reason why I was not happy with my career, the quality of my relationship, and the city I lived in was because I had spent so much time trying to follow all of these external ideas about where my life should go from the society around me, rather than contemplating that I needed to stop caring so much about what others think, to think for myself about what I truly want deep down, and to create my own path.
So obviously, if you are not taking out the time to figure out where you most belong (geographically, career-wise, relationship-wise, health-wise, etc.), no one else is going to grab you by the back of your shirt and pull you to go there! Actually, I guess you could say that is what I am doing right now. I am going to try to wake you up, and introduce some novel thoughts into your mind about what you are capable of and where you would truly be most fulfilled in life. I certainly have innovated in my own life, and I do enjoy sharing the ideas I come up with to allow others to use them if they wish. But I can only provide the spark. Each person has his or her own hopes and dreams – I can help you along the path (and feel free to ask me any questions you may have), but you are the only one who can provide the constant energy to turn that spark into a blazing fire.
Written by Jordan Phoenix
Adapted from How to Generate Great Ideas
Image courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net