The "Aha!" Moment

What is an “Aha!” moment?

Finding a structure to the thoughts that endlessly flows through our minds is often described as the first step towards getting a good idea. Yet the best ideas often appears when we are half dreaming, relaxing, or walking our dog. A common explanation to this phenomenon is that creativity means to find new and fresh connections. When our brain relaxes our right hemisphere is activated – our right hemisphere makes wider connections as compared to the left hemisphere.

The Aha! Moment or the eureka effect is named after the myth that Archimedes shouted “eureka” when he discovered how to measure the volume of an irregular object. It is also referred to as insight and epiphany. It is difficult to predict when an “Aha!” moment is going to occur and what exactly goes on in the brain is still a mystery.  John Kounios and Mark Jung-Beeman using brain image techniques found that the “Aha!” Moments are marked by an increase of electrical activity in the brain.

For some of us the “Aha!” moment hits us when we are busy talking to other people and it is easy to lose the best ideas. So what can you do to prevent this from happening? Always carrying a notebook may prevent us from losing a good idea. There are also software programs such as voice- recognition software Dragon that allows us to make a recording of our ideas. We might talk at 200 words a minute, but we can scribble notes at only 25 or 30 words a minute.

Is mindfulness contradictory to “Aha!” moments? Practicing mindfulness means to have a neutral standpoint towards the contents of your stream and a creative insight should be treated in a similar way. We should just let it go. Yet we can always have a notepad beside us and then write the idea down. After this, we can simply let the idea leave us and we can attend to it later.

Photo: “Binary Background” by renjith krishnan

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