Where Do You Do Your Best Thinking?

 

Do you have a spot, a special place where you find that you do your best thinking? I find that there are places I inhabit with some frequency that are not conducive to reflective thinking, and others that, for whatever reason, allow a freer exercise of cognitive activity.

For instance, the idea for this post came while I was outside on the riding lawnmower, cutting away at the spring grass.

I do a lot of thinking on that mower, perhaps because it takes me a couple hours to complete the task.

I have other places, too. My most productive thinking comes sitting at my desk with a keyboard under my fingertips, for this is where my thoughts become words on a page. However, my deeper thinking, where my mind fills with a mix of words, images, and senses, takes place on the deck. The deck offers me a distraction-free solitude where I can listen, discern, and decide. This is where I do my best thinking.

What about you?  Do you have a spot?

There are 42 comments.

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  1. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Usually on the walk home, after work, is when I get the idea I needed an hour previously.

    It’s trés frustrating.

    • #1
  2. ParisParamus Inactive
    ParisParamus
    @ParisParamus

    This is a great subject.  I find movement, be it walking or road cycling is best for deep thinking, and a cafe or long-distance train best for getting from ideas to coherent sentences on a page.

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    It is often true that we think more when doing something that doesn’t require much brain, either because it is something like cutting grass or because it is a habitual physical thing, such as exercise (as Misthiocracy’s walks) or taking a shower.  They are activities that do not engage the brain much, so it is free to roam.  I often have inspirations in the shower.  One day, I was imitating André Roussimoff in his role of Fezzig in the Princess Bride, “I am the Dwead Piwate Woberts!”  I suddenly realized that this sounded a lot like The Dread Poet Roberts, so I created a character, an alter-ego that I used for years.  (I stopped using it, and now somebody else has stumbled onto the same idea, so I am not that Dread Poet Roberts.)  I also came up with the idea for an article about France secretly wanting the Gulf War to go hot again while in the shower.

    The other place for me is in the shadows between waking and sleep where ideas peek out of the crevices and words thunder in the silence.

    • #3
  4. user_6236 Member
    user_6236
    @JimChase

    Arahant:

    The other place for me is in the shadows between waking and sleep where ideas peek out of the crevices and words thunder in the silence.

    Yes!  And how many of these thoughts I lose on the way to capturing them for posterity!

    • #4
  5. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Arahant: The other place for me is in the shadows between waking and sleep where ideas peek out of the crevices and words thunder in the silence.

    Sounds like a Batman speech.

    • #5
  6. captainpower Inactive
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    I heard an interview about this recently.

    http://hanselminutes.com/420/hacking-the-creative-mind-with-denise-jacobs

    The upshot is that it’s not the place so much as the state of your mind at the time.

    That said, the shower is a pretty common place where people’s minds are relaxed enough to have some creativity spark.

    I’ve also found a relaxing drive can also provide opportunity.

    • #6
  7. user_245883 Member
    user_245883
    @DanCampbell

    I get my best thoughts as my dog pulls me around the neighborhood.  I can put my brain in neutral while he walks, sniffs at selected spots, and pees on them.  There’s probably a metaphor in there somewhere.

    • #7
  8. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Arahant: It is often true that we think more when doing something that doesn’t require much brain, either because it is something like cutting grass or because it is a habitual physical thing, such as exercise (as Misthiocracy’s walks) or taking a shower. 

    That’s mine in a nutshell. The shower, eating alone, cleaning up, driving, playing video games, etc. The last wouldn’t help many, but it often requires less than full concentration for me since I grew up with games. 

    A back patio/porch is great sometimes, but only if I’m not restless to begin with.

    Sadly, insights and ideas often come when I’m away from a computer, paper, or any other method of recording. I suppose that’s why so many ideas through history were first scribbled on napkins.

    If I could afford to, I’d live on a beach. Nothing invites contemplation like a secluded stroll by the waves.

    • #8
  9. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Aaron Miller: Sadly, insights and ideas often come when I’m away from a computer, paper, or any other method of recording.

    Don’t modern cellphones (smart phones) have the ability to record a message for yourself?  Or just dial your number and leave yourself a voice mail.  I would think a youngster like you would have a phone with him nearly everywhere.

    • #9
  10. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    The shower.  Bed.  Long car rides (where I’m driving and the family is sleeping).

    or…  anywhere something pops into my head.  :)

    • #10
  11. captainpower Inactive
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    Arahant: Don’t modern cellphones (smart phones) have the ability to record a message for yourself? 

     I use Google Keep on my Android phone.

    http://lifehacker.com/not-just-another-notes-app-why-you-should-use-google-k-509256637

    • #11
  12. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    captainpower:

    I heard an interview about this recently.

    http://hanselminutes.com/420/hacking-the-creative-mind-with-denise-jacobs

    The upshot is that it’s not the place so much as the state of your mind at the time.

    That said, the shower is a pretty common place where people’s minds are relaxed enough to have some creativity spark.

    I’ve also found a relaxing drive can also provide opportunity.

     This is interesting.  I wonder if it depends on what you’re writing.  For me, I kind of have to wait for something to pop into the old noodle before I can write…  I’ll have moments where I’m relaxed with lots of free time, and I’ll just sit there, nothing coming to mind.  But my favorite writings (of my own) have erupted fairly spontaneously in moments of great frustration.  Kind of like some people will get really annoyed and feel like letting out a scream, or going to the gym, or punching something.

    That said – “inspiration” is a funny thing.  I think maybe your brain is always turned on, and sometimes something creeps up into your consciousness and you think “ooh, I’ll write that down!”

    • #12
  13. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Ryan M:

    The shower. Bed. Long car rides (where I’m driving and the family is sleeping).

    or… anywhere something pops into my head. :)

     [note on the seeming contradiction between this and my comment #12 – I’m distinguishing between “where you think,” and “when/how you write.]

    • #13
  14. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    When I read the post, I wondered Will people think I’m weird if I say the shower?  But I see it’s pretty common.  So if a group of people are brain-storming, would it be a good idea for them all to take a shower together?

    • #14
  15. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Randy Weivoda: So if a group of people are brain-storming, would it be a good idea for them all to take a shower together?

     I hear it works well for prison-escape plans, dahlinkh.

    • #15
  16. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Ryan M: That said – “inspiration” is a funny thing. I think maybe your brain is always turned on, and sometimes something creeps up into your consciousness and you think “ooh, I’ll write that down!”

     Trust me, your brain is a muscle that can provide you with loose connections, short circuits, and other inspirations if you train it and work it.

    • #16
  17. user_6236 Member
    user_6236
    @JimChase

    Randy Weivoda:

    When I read the post, I wondered Will people think I’m weird if I say the shower? But I see it’s pretty common. So if a group of people are brain-storming, would it be a good idea for them all to take a shower together?

    I’m still waiting for someone to fess up and admit that they do their best thinking sitting on the toilet.

    • #17
  18. user_6236 Member
    user_6236
    @JimChase

    Ryan M:

    Ryan M:

    The shower. Bed. Long car rides (where I’m driving and the family is sleeping).

    or… anywhere something pops into my head. :)

    [note on the seeming contradiction between this and my comment #12 – I’m distinguishing between “where you think,” and “when/how you write.]

    Yes, which is why I focused on the “where” instead of the “when/how”.  The “where” offers potential insight as to the environments that people find most conducive to clear thinking.  (Well, that, plus I thought it might be interesting conversation fodder.) 

    • #18
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Jim Chase: I’m still waiting for someone to fess up and admit that they do their best thinking sitting on the toilet.

     I don’t, but that was one of my first thoughts given of what I know of others.  Of course, some people are far too busy talking on the phone while there to have time to think.

    • #19
  20. Mama Toad Member
    Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Jim Chase:

    Randy Weivoda:

    When I read the post, I wondered Will people think I’m weird if I say the shower? But I see it’s pretty common. So if a group of people are brain-storming, would it be a good idea for them all to take a shower together?

    I’m still waiting for someone to fess up and admit that they do their best thinking sitting on the toilet.

    Papa Toad and I have our own bathroom (what joy) with locks on the door (an absolute necessity). The toilet is next to a window, a full-size beautiful window. I watch birds, the sky, the children on the swing set. I read. Natural light. Did I mention the door locks?

    • #20
  21. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    40588_1463266175787_6001488_n
    You ask; we deliver.  It’s one of the few places without the distractions of modern life.

    • #21
  22. user_6236 Member
    user_6236
    @JimChase

    Whiskey Sam: You ask; we deliver. It’s one of the few places without the distractions of modern life.

    I asked for that, I suppose.  Monkey see, monkey doo.

    Somebody redeem this conversation, please?

    • #22
  23. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Jim Chase: Somebody redeem this conversation, please?

     It’s dead, Jim.  I’m a doctor, not a rhetorician!

    • #23
  24. HeartofAmerica Inactive
    HeartofAmerica
    @HeartofAmerica

    In bed. No other noise around. Nothing else crowding my brain except whatever the problem of the day is. I get a lot solved but it also has a downside…I can’t fall asleep until I have a solution.

    • #24
  25. Blue State Curmudgeon Inactive
    Blue State Curmudgeon
    @BlueStateCurmudgeon

    You don’t want to know.

    • #25
  26. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    The shower. Many people have read my posts and declared, “That man is all wet!”

    • #26
  27. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    It’s about when as opposed to where in my world. I do most of my thinking in the heat of the moment- during business and NASDAQ hours. After that (around midnight due to time zones), I talk to friends, and read Ricochet and blasphemous John Irving novels.

    • #27
  28. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    @ MT and WS: You two are shameless! :))

    • #28
  29. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    EThompson: @ MT and WS: You two are shameless! :))

     I obviously need to work harder.  The prison shower thing didn’t make the cut.

    • #29
  30. Suzanne Temple Inactive
    Suzanne Temple
    @SuzanneTemple

    On long walks around my neighborhood … with no cell phone.

    • #30
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