I just finished reading Johan Lehrer’s book Imagine. Working on the theory that we need both our left and right-brain hemispheres to produce the best results in work and life, Lehrer provides incredibly inspiring and useful tools to understand how, when we reach a left-brain roadblock, we can switch to the right-brain to get through the obstacle to allow for the experience of a Eureka moment. 

Below are twelve things Lehrer suggests we can do to work through problems and issues by tapping into our creative minds.

1. Take A Break. If you are struggling with a technical problem take a break and relocate yourself to a different space. Walk outside or enjoy a warm shower, “Lie down by a sunny window. Daydream. Play a game of pinball.”

2. Be Happy, Positive, and Engage Your Inner Humor.

3. Indulge the Early Morning. Take advantage of the early morning hours. ”The drowsy brain is unwound and disorganized, open to all sorts of unconventional ideas. The right hemisphere is also unusually active.”

4. Meditate. Meditation leads to greater cognitive control, which enables us to relax more easily and gain insight. As Lehrer puts it, “…focus on not being focused.”

5. Create the Time, Awareness, And Atmosphere To Blend Concepts. “…breakthroughs often arrive when we apply old solutions to new situations; for instance, a person thinking about sandpaper when he needs something sticky…Insights, after all, come from the overlap between seemingly unrelated thoughts. They come when concepts are transposed, when the rules of one place are shifted to a new domain.

6. Persist. “The reality of the creative process is that it often requires persistence, the ability to stare at a problem until it makes sense…even if a person is lucky enough to experience a useful epiphany, the new idea is rarely the end of the creative process The sobering reality is that the grandest revelations often still need work.”

7. Engage Your Feelings of Knowing. Feelings of knowing indicate the possibility of solving problems and indicate progress. “This ability to calculate progress is an important part of the creative process.”

8. Let Go Of Technique And Tap Into Your Emotions. In discussing Yo-Yo Ma, Lerhrer says that he is “a technical master, of course, but what makes him such a special performer is that he also knows when to release technique for something deeper, for that depth of emotion that no one else can find.”

9. Don’t Care What Others Think. Let go of censoring yourself. “You have to work at not giving a Fuck.”

10. Knowing Less Can Be A Good Thing If You Start To Experiment To Gain Knowledge. Don’t get discouraged, do research, have fun, and avoid boredom with your everyday job and life. If you experiment and acquire new knowledge rather than get depressed and lazy, you much just become the next innovator.

11. Share ideas. Socializing and collaborating fosters new ideas.

12. Make Sacrifices For The Sake Of Passion. You have to truly love for a breakthrough to occur. Change your life if you have to in order to be passionate about what you do. 

Image via Wired


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