“Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.” ~ Bruce Garrabrandt
Can you remember being at the receiving end of an enlightening or illuminating idea that flashed into your mind like an incandescent light bulb? Perhaps you’ve had quite a few moments of erudition? I’ve had a few too; and who wouldn’t want to have more of those those elusive but cherished aha! moments?
Unfortunately the moment doesn’t tend to hang around long, you have to use it or risk losing it. I have taken to keeping a pen and pad by my bed, in my office and buried in the murky depths of my handbag, ready and waiting for rapid note taking… You never know when such blessings will infiltrate your consciousness, so it’s wise to be prepared! There have been times after stirring from slumber, when I am still in that twilight zone between lucid dreaming and being fully awake, when my subconscious mind has been streaming ideas into my conscious mind. Sometimes it’s so fast I just jot down whatever is in my head so as not to forget anything later on. I can always ditch the stuff that I may not use in the future.
In a minor aha! moment I thought it would be interesting to investigate such ephemeral phenomena, and try to understand how we can better manifest these fleeting gifts from the universe.
Etymology and language is constantly evolving, but essentially the definition of the word inspiration hasn’t changed much from its Latin roots: inspirare, meaning divine guidance, or in a more literal sense, breathing in spirit.
Ideas are everything. Ideas fuel man’s progress and make life better for humanity, especially in the areas of the arts, literature, health, science and technology. However, our ideas don’t all have to be on the same level as E=mc2, we can achieve smaller-scale wins by solving our everyday challenges, or, in my case, figuring out how to multi-task having a career alongside motherhood and running a home… I’m still figuring that one out!
Ideas are the intangible, ethereal side of our being. We cannot force them, but perhaps we can increase their frequency by learning a bit more about how they come about. Of course, they are nothing but useless data if they are not followed up by meaningful action.
Thomas Edison famously said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
And here’s the rub: although that moment of glorious enlightenment may appear to be a bolt from the blue, it’s most likely the result of many smaller steps over time, and at times, a seeming impasse as to how to proceed. We do what we think we should, we hit obstacles, we try again, hit the repeat button a few times, and then, if we have the right mindset, the answer we have been seeking miraculously presents itself to us. We could be standing at the bus stop or be out on a hike, we could be in the middle of reading a book, we could be cooking, we could be drifting off to sleep…and ding! A passing, but profoundly brilliant thought pops into our heads.
Giovanna Mingarelli from the World Economic Forum highlights her take on the Eureka Effect:
The word ‘Eureka’ was coined by Greek polymath, Archimedes, after he had an epiphany about how to measure the volume of an irregular object.
Barry Evans gives an enlightened TED talk about Archimedes and his all important principle:
There are various theories about how creative insight works, this is my perception garnered from my personal experiences: I concentrate on a problem, mull it over, write down my ideas, follow the ones I think will work best, tweak if necessary, and then later try to empty my mind of it completely. Sometimes I forget about it for a long time, and then an answer or solution usually comes to me. I know that may sound simplistic, but it’s worked for me in the past. I just have to get out of my own way. And of course, some Eureka moments are more recondite than others, but the fact that any kind of inspiration is flowing is a positive result. I have also found that meditation has greatly helped me to relax and clear my mind, to have that space when I have no thoughts and no content in my mind. In the right conditions I can easily go into the alpha brainwave pattern, and this seems to support my intuition and the mental settings needed for insight to take place. I find other than my meditation, nature and music are wonderfully conducive.
Transcendence seems to be key, as stated in this talk by author and entrepreneur Bernardo Kastrup (if you can put up with the audience coughing):
Here’s my previous post about meditation.
An absolutely brilliant presentation about the process of creative insight and why you need grit:
Again, they both draw the conclusion that eventually one should stop looking and focussing. Jonah talks about those all-important alpha waves again…and about the obsessive revisions that Beethoven made to his music to attain the level of genius that he is loved and admired for. Perseverance is half the battle, which reminds me of a famous Calvin Coolidge quote…
When worthwhile ideas come, it’s up to us to stick with them, hone them and improve them, and ultimately, to have faith in them.
Fabulous article by Eckhart Tolle on creativity.
I’m really getting into this mnemonic lark! Cognitive Random Ephemeral Attributes Transformed Into Valuable Expression
Wherever they come from, (perhaps it’s the infinite field of consciousness that all humans have access to), ideas will flow to you if the conditions are favourable. The Eureka Effect isn’t a domain just for the chosen few… Pay attention to the answers you seek, and then let it go. That song from Frozen sums it up perfectly! Take a walk, empty your mind and get ready for the influx…
“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.” ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf
P.S. Any takers for the problems facing the Middle East at the moment??