Stop trying to be so smart

Fascinating article by Jonah Lehrer in The New Yorker (7/28) about where sudden bursts of insight come from (excerpt here.)  (Apparently they’re not so sudden.  It’s just that you’re not conscious of your mind working on the problem.)  Particularly interesting was the ability of the expert Zen meditator to consciously engage the proper regions of his right hemisphere in order to trigger sudden flashes of problem-solving insight.

I’m encouraged by the conclusion that the process of insight consists of Focus, Impasse and Relaxation, in that order.  In other words, first you tune out distractions and consciously try to solve the problem at hand until you hit an impasse (e.g. writer’s block) and get frustrated.  Then you stop trying, and “concentrate on letting the mind wander.”  Your right hemisphere keeps working until it discovers the solution, at which point your brain lets you know it’s here (the eureka moment.)

Oh, and the best time for those brilliant flashes of genius?  Early morning, right when you wake up.

Yet another reason to hit the snooze button.

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