Inspiration Strikes When Your Mind Is Free
November 22, 2021
Isaac Newton was on a leisure walk in Cambridge when he noticed an apple falling. Seeing this from a distance triggered a flash of inspiration that led him to formulate the laws of gravity.
Archimedes, the Greek polymath, was taking a leisurely bath in a tub, and inspiration struck where he figured out how to calculate the volume and density of objects. His “Eureka” moment happened in a bathtub.
Every day, once in the morning and again in the afternoon, Charles Darwin went for a walk on the “sidewalk” a gravel track near Down House, his home in Kent. He called it his “thinking path”. He got many of his ideas on the theory of evolution during his daily walks.
I am sure many of us have had similar flashes of insight, too, when we have been in a state of leisure. These aha moments may not all have changed the world, but they certainly would have helped us solve issues we were grappling with while also activating new ideas.
For many of the day-to-day cognitive challenges, some level of anxiety is helpful. Anxiety narrows attention, and this is very useful when it comes to analytical problem-solving.
However, when you are in a state of narrow attention and intense focus on a specific problem, it suppresses your big-picture thinking. As a result, you tend to get stuck in tactical low order thinking.
On the other hand, when you are in a state of leisure, having a neutral or positive mood, your attention is relaxed. And, when your attention is relaxed, the probability of the aha moments to strike you is heightened.
There is one caveat, though- You should be prepared to register the flash of inspiration when it strikes you. I feel the aha moments happen only when you are ready for them.
There is enough research in Psychology that has scientifically established that a mind in a state of leisure is primed for making random associations within the subconscious mind to create the insightful “Aha” moments.
If you are grappling with any big decisions, it may be time for you to put your mind to rest and go for a walk, take a swim, or perhaps get yourself a nice body massage.
Give your inspiration a chance to strike by giving it the right setting and the right mood.