Looking to find inspiration for the next great novel, your musical masterpiece, your next business idea? An inspiration walk is one of the best ways.
What is an Inspiration Walk?
The idea behind an ‘inspiration walk’ is to leave the confines of the home or office to go for a stroll and, in doing so, to discover the inspiration you’re looking for.
So, why might this work? There are several reasons that inspiration often lies in the great outdoors. For starters, walking is a mindless activity that has been shown to activate the brain’s default mode network.
The default mode network is a series of brain areas that kick into gear whenever we’re doing something that doesn’t require a lot of higher-order thinking (thinking with the prefrontal cortex).
This type of brain activity is implicated in daydreaming and often leads to the discovery of great ideas. In fact, it’s thought that Einstein was in this brain state when he discovered his world-changing Special Theory of Relativity. Effectively, walking lets our mind wander, and this is what often leads to the best ideas.
Another key aspect of going for a walk is that it takes us outside and lets us explore our environment. This works best when we walk in a natural setting, which has been shown to trigger creativity all on its own.
Essentially, when we’re relaxed, this also allows our mind to wander and explore different ideas and memories. In turn, this leads to new creative breakthroughs and insights. This is the opposite of when we’re in a stressed and focused state, which causes us to focus on just one thing at the expense of other, related ideas.
Being in scenic settings has been shown to trigger creativity because, to our primitive brains, a lush environment represents natural resources and safety. In the wild, coming across an area of lush green plants would have meant sources of food, water, and shelter.
Thousands of years later, this still triggers a relaxation reflex in our brain to the extent that having plants around the office or even just painting a wall green can increase creative thinking.
Finally, going for walks gives us a change of scenery, gives us exercise and gets fresh air in our lungs; all things that result in a new perspective and a chance to break out of lazy or habitual thinking patterns.