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Getting to “Ah-Ha” Moments


I’ll never forget my first Ah-Ha moment - I was 19 or 20 years old, and I was desperately trying to make changes in my life - or perhaps more accurately stated - I was desperately trying to change myself.

I wasn’t very nice about it, either, to be honest. I was kind of railroading myself into becoming someone I wanted to be - but I certainly wasn’t that person yet.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to change - but my Ah-Ha moment came when I finally admitted to myself that part of me didn’t want to change. It was a moment of unbelievable relief: I at once realized why I was resisting myself and for the first time, had an experience of truly listening to myself - even when what I was saying wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear.

I have had hundreds of Ah-Ha moments since that day - and I think part of the reason I have a passion for self-help and self-improvement is because these Ah-Ha moments are so enjoyable :: addicting, even ;).

I had another Ah-Ha moment this morning - I’ll share that one separately - and it led me to question Ah-Ha moments in general. What are they? Why do we want them? How do we get them?

So what are Ah-Ha moments?

I like to describe Ah-Ha Moments as those when the intellectual mind, the emotional mind and the physical body all come to an agreement at the same time. It’s when you have an idea or problem that you have struggled with in your mind, it caused icky or conflicting emotions, and your body usually tensed up or got stressed out when you thought about it.

Then in one fell swoop, your mind “gets it” - you have a flood (tiny or huge) of good emotions, and you feel a physical sense of relief and happiness, joy or resolution.

Why do we want to pursue Ah-Ha moments?

I can’t answer for you - but perhaps you will find a bit of yourself in my answer: Ah-Ha moments are the times when obstacles disappear; when problems are solved. They are the moments when decisions are made, and when I am suddenly able to access new resources within myself to find answers to questions and solutions to problems.

To me, Ah-Ha moments are the most priceless moments in life. They are the times when I look at both the past and future of my life and I see everything as a gift, when I appreciate the road that has led me to today, no matter how rocky it was to get here.

So how do we get to Ah-Ha moments?

As I review my past Ah-Ha moments, I find that they have several things in common:

  1. Usually Ah-Ha moments happen not when I get a new bit of information, but when I finally am able to understand and put into action an old bit of information that I already knew.
  2. Ah-Ha moments happen not when I know what is going on, but when I am a bit confused, or when I am more open to solutions because what I am currently doing is not working
  3. Ah-Ha moments happen frequently when I am seeking help - meaning that even though I may already know what I need to know, I’m willing to be wrong or admit I don’t have all of the answers (how’s that for irony?!)
  4. Ah-Ha moments happen when I am not expecting them - which means that even though it is noble to pursue Ah-Ha moments, it’s when we aren’t pursuing them that we are open enough to allowing them to happen

One last thing to note - can you remember a time when you had a big Ah-Ha moment? Can you go back to that time now? If you can, and you can pick apart the ingredients that made this an Ah-Ha moment, you can use this as a recipe to plant the seeds for future Ah-Ha moments.

And on that note, I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes:

It is very easy to see how many seeds are in an apple. You can cut open the apple and count the seeds. However, you never know how many apples lie within each seed.


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    On October 19th, 2006 at 2:18 pm, Tony D. Clark said:

    Deciding to start my blog was one of those moments for me. And it’s still fresh enough that I can remember it clearly. It seemed like everything was pointing that way.

    Hindsight, I really should’ve got it sooner. It’s amazing how after the Ah-Ha! you realize you should have seen it all along.

    On October 19th, 2006 at 2:20 pm, eMom said:

    LOL Tony - great distiction and SO true - it makes you wonder what the #$% you were thinking before the Moment hits!!! ;)

    On October 19th, 2006 at 5:17 pm, April said:

    I live for the ah-ha moment. For me, though, it is usually an intellectual revelation. Not necessarily a life-changing decision, just a revelation that helps me see the world in a new, fresh way. My college education was FULL of ah-ha moments. Now, home with babies, I get to watch them have their own moments of realization.

    On October 19th, 2006 at 10:09 pm, eMom said:

    Thanks for stopping by and welcome April! I’m always thrilled to “see a new face” around here! :)

    On October 20th, 2006 at 9:57 am, katiebird said:

    Hi Wendy,

    I’ve been thinking about this post since you published it yesterday. “Ah-ha” moments (I call them “Eureka” Moments) simmering around in the back of my brain.

    I’ve had several — when I realized that taking that library job could be the key to a real career (and it was), when I realized that divorce was a more positive life choice than suicide (not the story you might be thinking but, also true), and the biggest of all — that while I couldn’t stop eating entirely, I could stop eating between meals and stop taking seconds.

    That turned out to be the most important idle thought I ever had. And I’m so glad I was in tune enough to sit up and take notice as it flitted through my subconscious and bubbled up to the top.

    It eventually led to my blog and that led me Darren & Liz and then here and from here to blogJolt and dozens of other wonderful blogs and ideas and inspirations.

    And well — the Ah-Ha moment — it’s a powerful thing.

    Thanks for reminding me.

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