Why Being Near The Ocean Can Make You Calmer And More Creative
In our always-busy, screen-saturated lives, we don’t give our minds much of a chance to rest and wander freely. But when we do, the mind switches into a different mode of engagement, known as the default mode network — the brain network associated with daydreaming, imagination, consolidation of memories, self-referential thought, insight and introspection. The default mode network is extremely important for creativity — which is often why we find that when we turn off our brains for a moment and get in the shower, activating that default network, that we suddenly come up with the insights and ideas that eluded us while we were sitting at our computers desperately searching for the solution.
"The shower is a proxy for the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean," says Nichols. "You step in the shower, and you remove a lot of the visual stimulation of your day. Auditorially, it’s the same thing — it’s a steady stream of ‘blue noise.’ You’re not hearing voices or processing ideas. You step into the shower and it’s like a mini-vacation."
Rather than switching off, when you’re showering, your brain switches into a different mode — and while the brain is in a more restful state, suddenly you’re able to make those new or unusual connections. The “Eureka” moment comes at last — the insight or solution “feels like it drops out of the sky and into your head,” says Nichols.
It’s one of my working theories that one of the things wealth (or relative wealth) is buying in the 21st century is not necessary more goods—or even more access to goods—but instead an escape from the noise and pandemonium of the digital landscape. It means traveling to places without connections or reception, and even within that landscape it means buying access to less noise. I think, paradoxically, those with the most money to spend probably also end up being the most insulated from ads—just another form of noise to escape.