“Ah-Ha” Moments: The Juice of Life

by gloriam on March 29, 2011

You have experienced them. Those times when you realize, “I get it,” “oh, that’s it,” “I finally understand.”Ah-ha moments are serendipitous and surprise us when we least expect it. They may come after reading something for the tenth time or when we hear an old concept framed in a new way. Recently, an ah-ha occurred for me while I was traveling with my husband to lead a retreat. I was reading an article about freeing ourselves from bad habits – for good. Much of the information in the article I had read before, talked about with my clients, and even written about in my newsletter. After all, my job as a therapist, is to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt in the transforming power of change. I educate people about the process of change and that it doesn’t happen over night. But there it was. . . the statement that became the ah-ha for me. “Real transformation is not linear; it is more like a spiral. When you make a breakthrough. . . it is often followed by a backlash” (Sally Kempton). Change is fluid. There are relapses that are part of integrating the change into your life. In that instant a change I was working on in my own life had new meaning! So what made that particular statement, among all the others, the ah-ha moment?

George Lakoff, a professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California, offers some insight into the science of ah-ha moments. Lakoff says that our minds rely on frames rather than facts to make change. “Frames are the mental structures that define how we see the world.” We reject new facts that don’t fit into these structures and facts go in and right back out. So to change behavior, you have to change frames. Many aspects affect the changing of our frames. I believe that one of these aspects is ah-ha moments. They are the juice that reframe a new way of thinking. May you have lots of ah-ha’s this month. Watch for them because they come at the most unexpected and unpredicted times.

For more information on change see the full article. (Deutschman, Alan. “Change: Why Is It So Darn Hard to Change Our Ways.” Fast Company. May 2005. Kempton, Sally. “Change for Good: Free Yourself from Bad Habits.”Yoga Journal. April 2005.)

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