Wisdom//

8 Unexpected Ways to Spark Your Next “Eureka” Moment

While our brightest ideas may seem like they happen out of the blue, you can actually set the stage to spur one on.

Jorg Greuel/Getty Images
Jorg Greuel/Getty Images

“Eureka” moments — those flashes in our brain when a great new idea or a solution to a problem reveals itself — don’t just happen. Experts say they’re brought on by a combination of factors, which include a clear goal, enough sleep, an upbeat mood, the time to incubate ideas, and reduced distractions (that’s why so many people have a-ha moments in the shower — the state of sensory restriction helps nudge realizations from the dusty corners of our brains into our conscious minds).

While our brightest ideas may seem like they happen out of the blue, you can actually set the stage to spur one on. So we asked members of the Thrive Global community to share what they do to tap into their creativity and come up with their most brilliant ideas.

Embrace alone time

“My best ideas always find me when allow them space to enter. This usually happens when there’s absolutely no way to write down an idea, like in the shower, or during a commute! Inner solitude brings clarity and creativity to an overcommitted mind.”

—Stacy Cassio, CEO, Charlotte, NC

Let it sit

“I’ve noticed that when I’m trying to solve a problem, come up with an idea, or find the right words to express something, it really helps to let it sit. I get really frozen when I try to be creative on demand. In French, they say, ‘La nuit porte conseil,’ meaning that the night brings good advice. This often works for me. We often have the answers in us, and letting our brain while surrendering control often brings us what we need.”

—Sonia Weyers, happiness coach, Grez-sur-Loing, France

Unlock creativity on a flight

“I’d say that my inspiration often comes while flying. Flying is an opportunity to unchain ourselves from any concerns or worries at ground level. Sometimes, those moments in the sky unlock uncharted conversations with incredible humans (let’s call it ‘chatting with strangers’). Other times, they allow for rare inner journeys. I discovered my desire to become a first-time CEO at age 47 while flying across the country from New York City to San Francisco. It was all about the cloud patterns, the sky, and the infinite possibilities. ”

—Daniel Sieberg, CEO, founder, New York, NY

Seek out inspiring moments

“I find that my most powerful eureka moments often come when I’m listening to uplifting music, journaling, or watching a motivational video. Sometimes, ideas come to me when I’m doing something spiritual like praying, or when I’m at a church service. Engaging in something positive and inspiring is truly the key to unlocking these moments, and having a pen to write down these ideas is a must.”

—Queen Chioma Nworgu, M.A., international motivational speaker, TV presenter and PR and media coach, London, UK

Step away from your brain

“My best ideas always percolate when I step away from my brain. They pop up when I’m hiking in the mountains, walking on the beach, meditating, luxuriating in a candlelit shower, or sleeping. My best creativity rises to consciousness when I’m not consciously working at it.”

—Lisa Cypers Kamen, optimal lifestyle management expert, Los Angeles, CA

Don’t force it

“I find that thinking too hard about a project or problem often depletes my creative or problem-solving energy. Paradoxically, it’s during the times that I’m not intentionally thinking about a project or problem that my lightbulb moments occur. Sometimes, it’s during totally random circumstances that we’re able to draw connections allowing great ideas to emerge, rather than forcing them during an intensive session.”

—Andrew Gobran, people operations, Minneapolis, MN

Walk in nature

“Walking in nature sparks my creativity. I always generate great ideas and solutions for my business and clients. The energy of the activity, combined with sunlight and nature’s colors and sounds, are extremely helpful for me to focus and set clear goals for whatever I’m working on.”

—Sabrina Cadini, life-work balance strategist, San Diego, CA

Expend counterproductive energy

“Sparking my creativity is a process, and I’ve discovered a few components that work for me. First, I take notes everywhere and keep a running outline of ideas. Second, I know that I’m at my best when I’ve treated my body well. So I work out or walk my dog to expend counterproductive energy. Then I do some deep breathing and yoga. Finally, music and photography — both my own compositions and others’ — are always great catalysts for tackling my outline topics. The emotions in my favorite songs and inspiring photos always motivate me, and put me on a creative new path.”

—Concierge Jo-Anna, communications connector, New York and Cannes, France

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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