More than a century ago, the famous French mathematician Henri Poincaré developed a theory of relativity that would later be retained by Albert Einstein.
In 1908, after reading the many unsuccessful questions, Poincaré wrote: “I was furious at my failure, so I set off for a few days at sea, thinking of something else. One morning, walking through my eyes, the vision came to me, with the same symptoms of shortness, suddenness and certainty. ”
The mathematician went on to write about many other situations in which he came up with good solutions by accident. In each case, they have seized it, despite obstacles we can scarcely imagine. ” In fact, let me just say this: He was thinking a lot about these problems, not using his brain to help.
Einstein reported the same thing with Poincaré. In other words, two great masters of modern physics made basic discoveries when they stopped thinking and let their unconscious brain take over.
According to another clever scientist, Yale psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, the unconscious part of your brain works on problems using processes that are different from what your brain knows.
Opening up these processes of ignorance depends on taking time to think about your challenge or problem. In other words, to engage your brain and accomplish those moments of “aha”, sometimes you need to shut down part of your brain. The biggest moments of “aha” in our lives do not happen when we work without stopping, but when we stop working.
Think of the enormous challenge you are facing right now. How can you get into another job in your industry? How can you find a way to manage your remote team when you are not in the same place? How can you make sure that your child or loved one stops feeling depressed? Instead of hitting your head against a wall, you spend 80 hours a week trying to solve the problem, just stand still. Take a moment from your daily stream of life and let your unconscious mind take over.
When your problem becomes more complex – and I think we can all agree that Einstein and Poincaré were trying to solve problems that are much bigger than the ones we face in our daily lives – there is a great need for better truth that escapes knowledge. Success to a large extent, in other words, requires a fact where our mind is not fully aware that a solution is possible even if our mind cannot see it.
The next time you feel your wheels turn, take a break. Walk along the beach. Ride your bike in nature. Sit by the pool and meditate. Chances are that the solution or inspiration you want will emerge naturally.
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