Thousands of years ago there was a man who ran through the streets shouting “Eureka!” and lived with a high reputation. Makes you wonder who was this man and if you would be able to do the same?
The earliest and very famous moments of the “ Eureka” or “Aha” moments are by Archimedes, the same man who described above ran through the streets naked. Archimedes was struggling over a problem, he thought for hours, days and just could not figure it out. It wasn’t until a few days when he sat down for a bath and suddenly it hit him. He had discovered the volume of an object can be discovered by placing it in water.
We all have those moments when we become stuck on something. It might be a problem for the school, work challenge, or some personal challenge. Even with all our effort the solution just seems to be out of reach and like magic it comes in a moment when we least expect it.
There’s been research done to find out how to cultivate more of these “Aha ” moments. It all stems from the idea of an incubation period. To have an insight there has to be first a full-focused effort given to solve a challenge. Only once all the possibilities have been exhausted then by taking a break the mind subconsciously works for a solution. Forcing yourself to keep at it for a too long time leads to getting stuck in one type of thinking which continues on to become anxiety.
So how can we cultivate more of these insightful moments?
Here are 3 ways to give yourself a better chance:
- It is found that meditating on the problem for a while can produce insights. This actually requires eliminating distractions from your environment. This involves turning off the TV, putting your phone on ‘Do-not disturb’ etc. The next step is to take 10-15 minutes by yourself to really focus on what the root of the problem is and how to get to it.
- A major one that most people don’t have a good grasp on is sleep. Many people around the world sacrifice their sleep for other pursuits. It might seem like you’re invincible but don’t be fooled eventually it catches up and your health will suffer. When we sleep there is so much that goes on in the brain and why so many different sources reveal how getting a good night of sleep before any major event aids in better overall performance. Sleep helps consolidate the information while eliminating the junk so we can build on previous knowledge.
- Another possible way is to push yourself to try out new and different ideas. This might involve reading a book, listening to a podcast, going out to meet friends, playing a sport, etc. The whole point is to move your brain from just thinking about the problem to working on something else while unconsciously it keeps chipping away at it. This is why it’s suggested to take breaks while working because too much effort on one task limits the possibilities.
Einstein and Darwin both had many “Eureka” moments when they were day dreaming.
Now when you’ve been at a problem for hours without any progress maybe it’s time to take a break and try one of the techniques above. Who knows the solution might just hit you in the head (sometimes literally).
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Thanks for reading and as always have a great week ahead.
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