The Lightbulb Moment.
The light bulb moment is a moment of sudden inspiration or enlightenment, it happens in an instant, it’s when an idea pops into your head, or when you finally get clarity on a problem that’s been niggling away at you for ages.
So to give you a practical example here’s a brain teaser, and one that may give you a light bulb moment with the answer popping into your head either whilst reading on, or when I give you the answer at the end of the article.
There are 2 rooms, both isolated from each other.
There are 3 switches in one room, and a light bulb in the other room.
You can go into each room only once.
How do you know which switch turns on the light bulb.
So whilst our unconscious mind ponders the problem, let’s move on and discuss ‘the light bulb moment’ a little more.
In real life we often get light bulb moments, most of which we fail to notice, some of which we see as moments of inspiration, and sometimes rarely these light bulb moments can act like a paradigm shift where we can experience moments of clarity and our lives can change for ever.
History is littered with individuals experiencing moments of inspiration;
Archimedes is said to have had a light bulb moment when he realised how he could calculate the volume of an irregular shape, in order to prove King Hiero’s crown was made of pure gold and on doing so he is claimed to have shouted “eureka”.
Whereas Newton another great scholar and scientist he had his famous ‘light bulb’ moment when apparently being inspired by watching an apple fall from a tree he was said to have formulated his theory of gravitation.
Answers to some problems come by slow deliberate conscious calculation, whereas a light bulb moment is an unconscious process until the answer jumps into our consciousness.
When we look at the examples of Archimedes and Newton that I have given, we also need to consider that Archimedes was already a mathematical genius, possibly the greatest to have ever lived, whilst Newton born nearly 2 thousand years after Archimedes is still considered to be one of the world’s greatest physicists.
Archimedes spent much of his life contemplating mathematical problems, whilst Newton was working on his gravitation theory long before the apple dropped.
So perhaps to create that light bulb moment or that eureka experience we need to fill our mind beforehand with the relevant knowledge and information we need to solve the problem.
When someone says “what’s Seven Sevens”? the answer 49 hits us without any conscious calculation, that’s because we have all spent hours practising our times tables when we were younger, so then ask yourself is the answer 49 also a light bulb moment?
Do we then get light bulb moments because we already know the answer in our memory or somewhere tucked away in our unconscious mind and all the light bulb moment is, is when the answer slips into our consciousness awareness?
Life can throw problems at us a bit more complex than Seven times Seven.
So should we also accept that with some complex problems we may need to give our unconscious mind some time to compute and assimilate an answer before it pops into our consciousness? Because I’m sure we can all think back to a time when we have slept on a problem only to have the answer in the morning when we woke up.
Perhaps when we daydream, sleep, relax, meditate, or get into a flow state, at these times we switch off the clutter of our conscious mind and in doing so we may be more likely to let the moments of inspiration come from our unconsciousness into our conscious awareness. Could this be why Archimedes had his Eureka moment whilst lying in the bath and why Newton had his light bulb moment whilst said to be day dreaming under an apple tree in an orchard.
So in Summary.
- We get bigger brighter light bulb moments when we have first fed our mind with knowledge and information.
- More complicated problems we need to wait a little longer for the answer to surface.
- Sometimes when we are looking for inspiration we need to empty our mind first and try not to force the answer.
And for those of you still needing the answer to the light bulb problem above.
1. Switch the first switch to on for five minutes, then switch it off.
2. Now switch on the second switch and then go into the next room.
If the light light is on you know your answer.
If the light is off feel it, if it is warm you know the answer.
If the bulb is cold and off you also know the answer.
“and just like in one of those old cartoons has the light bulb suddenly lit above your head too”.