You might have a goal. Whether it’s securing a promotion, finding true love or changing the world, your days are easier when you follow your purpose. But that doesn’t mean that every day is easy. You can, and will, still get stuck. Knowing your destination doesn’t mean you know your next step. When you’re in this situation, the right epiphanies open all your possibilities.
I bounce between extreme states. Half the time, I struggle to think of what to do next. Other times, my brain becomes so saturated with ideas that I don’t know how to process them. Being buried by possibilities is a very nice problem to have. The solution’s easy, too – document and prioritise.
What about when you can’t think of new ideas? That’s just as easy (and a lot more fun). All you need to do is tap into an unconscious style of thinking.
You always have ideas. If something matters to you, some part of you is always thinking about it. The reason you sometimes feel stuck is that you lose access to this part of your mind. Your mind is like the world’s most chaotic congress, with billions of voices all fighting for attention. If you focus inside just right, it hands a bullhorn to the parts of you that deserve it.
Speaking of your inner mind, your unconscious loves to associate things together. This part of you believes correlation is causation. If you smell a tiger and hear a tiger, then you’d better assume there’s a tiger nearby. No time for formal proofs or hypothesis testing – run!
Consciously, you know that the smell of a tiger isn’t a tiger. For one thing, no one’s ever been mauled by an odour. For another, you might smell a tiger when none is around (or vice versa). Your unconscious doesn’t waste time considering all angles. It lumps the smell and the creature together into a single concept. As far as some part of you is concerned, a smell is a tiger… so you’d better run away from it.
This style of thinking, unscientific though it may be, is great for sparking new ideas. ‘There’s nothing new under the sun’ is an idea older than civilisation. Everything, they say, is a remix. Great innovations happen when someone combines two unrelated ideas. Your unconscious is something of a mad scientist at this, so give it a chance to play.
Here’s my recipe for triggering epiphanies:
Think about your purpose. Remember why you are doing this. What will achieving your goal mean for you? For the world? Keep this in the back of your mind (but don’t dwell on it) as you move to the next steps.
Research your field. Saturate your brain with high-quality, relevant material. Read books, scientific papers, blogs and textbooks. Talk to potential clients and experts. Listen to interviews and presentations. Consider new, unusual ideas – even if you’re sure they’re wrong.
Then fill your mind with something unrelated (and high-quality). Learn how to cook, read a great novel, listen to inspiring music or research an unrelated field.
Finally, switch your mind off. Meditate, go for a walk, hit the gym or have a chat with friends.
Is this advice original? No. Will it always work? Nah. Is it one of the most effective ways to create epiphanies, gain new insights and move past any obstacles? Absolutely. So what are you waiting for?
The more you trust your unconscious mind, the more effective this technique is. The type of results you get is exactly the type of effort you put in. Clearly communicating what you want to your inner mind is the best way to unlock greater creativity and intelligence.
Learn the language of your own thinking:
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