#2. The Story
They say everyone has a story to tell. This is like saying every person alive has 3 tablespoons of blood in them: It's technically true, but there's a lot more where that came from. Humans are made of stories. Hell, that "abstract thinking" thing is kind of our whole deal as a species.
But I'm not talking about just any story. I'm talking about the story, the one big tale everyone has either tucked away or laid out in the open. Defining that story is pretty easy: It's the tale you want to tell the most. It may not be the biggest idea you'll ever have, but in many ways it's the most important -- an idea of you, if you will.
The Story isn't any particular length or format. It can even change over time: There's no telling if the grumpy old spoilsport you'll be in 20 years' time will appreciate that 1,000-page treatise on wrestling-themed porn.
Some of us choose to keep this particular idea to ourselves. Others start a blog, or make crazy ass statues, or enroll in acting classes and take that shit to stage. If you feel like it, by all means turn yours into a screenplay and write the lead role for a past star who has fallen out of the limelight in order to revitalize his career. Shit, go nuts and painstakingly craft it to form an exact 3D replica of him when you print it out, I don't even care. It's your story.
Robin Marchant/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Although you are making a terrible mistake, for that is how he breeds.
That's the whole point: Regardless of how we choose to express it, we all have that one big idea constantly churning in the back of our minds, the single creative thing no one can take away from us no matter what.
You're constantly running a risk of being imprisoned by your story.
The thing about having a Thing is that sometimes you wind up getting taken over by that thing (and occasionally also by the Thing). Having a definitive idea can lead to a situation where said idea ends up defining you. If your story is all about your children and you've mostly expressed it via baby photo spamming and telegraphing your mom/dad moves so everyone can see that you're a parent, great. Still, there's a good chance that's going to be your defining trait, and 35 years later you'll still call your kid every day to see if he's wearing his scarf despite the fact that said scarf is now a beard, everyone else is calling him Murder Pug, and he can simultaneously ride two different Harleys with a contraption he made from femurs and hate. If you're fine with this, good for you! Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise (unless they have a badge). If you're not, well, that's just tough. That's still your lot in life if you willfully typecast yourself.
As a greedy businessman, obviously.
The risk of typecasting applies to everyone, and it's really not so much a risk as it is a cold certainty. As David Wong has pointed out, what the world sees of you will ultimately wind up defining their idea of you. Aspects of George R.R. Martin's definitive story (becoming a renowned writer by doing what he loves) include many other elements besides A Song of Ice and Fire. Had things gone differently, the George Martin Story might still be the same in his head, but to us, it would be "that weird guy with the tugboat captain's hat who's always talking about murdering literary characters." It works the other way around, too: A humble, downtrodden McDonald's worker is just one apartment fire and a saved baby away from becoming the hero he's always been in his story in the eyes of the rest of the world.
See, this is one of those things that make Homo sapiens the undisputed clusterfuck king of the planet. And probably also the reason why dogs opt to tell their stories by sniffing each other's butts.
#1. The Shower Idea
Hoby Finn/Photodisc/Getty Images
Go ask anyone where they had their last good idea. Chances are either they'll say it was in the shower or they're lying.
There are several reasons why showers are such idea magnets: You wash yourself more or less on autopilot, so your mind is free to wander. Combined with the dopamine release triggered by the cozy, enclosed place and warm water, this creates the perfect environment for some heavy duty idea-mongerin'. Well, that's what scientists say, anyway. Personally, I've always suspected that getting naked under an artificially heated man-made waterfall and lathering your carcass with surfactants boiled from dead plant and animal drippings causes the universe to lob ideas at you in a desperate effort to make you stop that shit.
Still, whatever the reasons behind its magic, the shower is the perfect idea booster that is very, very difficult to get wrong.
If it doesn't work, call a plumber. If this happens, call a druid.
There is one significant downside to showering. Your ideas are pretty much confined to a single tiny room-coffin, and it just happens to be the one place in the house where it's almost impossible to take notes. Leave the shower, and there's a good chance the idea will be gone in a gust of cold air and discomfort by the time you've toweled off.
Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
Alternate complaint: All those light bulbs are a real health hazard in a wet environment.
With this in mind, I would like to propose a new worldwide business model for workplaces everywhere. Let's make showers part of our daily work culture. Let's install shower booths in every office, meeting room, and hallway. You know what, forget booths -- let's just cut out the middleman and make everywhere showers. We can keep one small room in each house (the former bathroom, of course) dedicated to boring dryness, where we'd occasionally venture to type down our constant quality ideas. I want this to happen because even the most tedious, soul-sucking multihour meeting would become swift and effective, for there is no human being alive that can willingly sit in a room with a bunch of nude, pasty-ass office workers longer than a few minutes. I want this to happen because everyone's brain would constantly be in maximum creative mode, cranking out quality ideas for the meager price of senselessly wasting priceless natural resources 24/7.
But mostly I want this to happen because it would give me an excuse to finally stop wearing pants at work.
Special thanks to Sanna Haarala for inspiring this article, and many others. Follow Pauli Poisuo on Twitter.