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“Aha” Moments are Messages of Wisdom

 

By Kevin Cottam

Definition of Aha moment by Merriam Webster: a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension

Have you ever had an Aha Moment? Of course you have, and I would hazard a guess that they are appearing at a rapid rate throughout your day. However, you may not consciously recognize them. Maybe you do? How do we learn from the Aha moments that come to us throughout our lives?

Oprah: the ‘Aha Lady’

Oprah, the ‘Aha Lady’ speaks highly about the term “Aha Moment”. It has become a huge part of her trademark. So much so, that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2012 announced they would add the definition to their dictionary; ‘Aha Moment = a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension.’

Oprah has said, ‘That when interviewing others and the information makes her see life in a completely different way, she says ‘Aha! I get it!’ Light bulb … and the little hairs on your arm stand up. That is an “Aha” Moment.’ When was your last ‘light bulb moment’?

Creative Insights From the “Aha” Moments

Daniel Goleman (Mr. Emotional Intelligence) scientifically says, ‘Just before a creative insight, the brain goes into a relaxed Alpha Rhythm, which is then followed rapidly by a Gamma Spike, which brings about a congruence that something new is going to happen like it has never happened before – that’s the Aha Moment’. This is the flash of light or the moment of Wow.

Your Aha Moments are moments in your life when wisdom appears in a flash. What is key is that you must consciously realize that these are “Aha” Moments. They are flashes of light, moments of realization, the ‘hang on, what just happened there’ moment. Being aware of having an “Aha” Moment can shift or change your life forever – if you are open to learning from it!

Aha Moments in Business

Picture found at Funders and Founders; Illustrated by Evelina Yatselenko 

Positive or Negative Stories

Back in 1995, I was the producer for a very large show and three weeks into the rehearsal I was fired. I had been working as a director and choreographer for many, many years and this had never happened to me before. As you can imagine, I was devastated, torn apart and thought I would never work again. So many negative stories constantly ran through my head. About eight months later, after all the grief, the real “Aha” learning moment happened. I learned to listen to my heart and not my ego. I can say I was amazed. I was so grateful for being fired as the learning I was able to eventually take changed the way I work and live my life.

Your “Aha” Moments come out of the organic stories in your life. You are constantly filled with stories and therefore have a bottomless treasure chest to be able to discover new ways forward. “Aha” Moments can be presented as both positive and negative stories and it depends as to whether you have the skill and awareness to turn a negative into a positive and become your own alchemist.

There is a saying: Behind every cloud is a silver lining. This is true of every “Aha” Moment. I find the greatest reward in life is when a truly negative situation happens and this amazing “Aha” Moment appears to change my life and mindset. It is like rising from 0 -10 in a flash. The positive situations that lead to “Aha” Moments are also brilliant; I am grateful for them as well, but my mindset is not as altered. This may be different for you, of course.

My Last “Aha” Moment

My last “Aha” Moment was when I arrived in Canada from Singapore on December 28th and it was freezing cold. I thought, “What am I doing here? I don’t need to be here!” The backstory to this is that I had been arriving in Canada on the same date or over the same period for the past 10 years. I was living the same routine over and over again. This was because of my dear, elderly, mother. Sadly, my mother passed away 2 years ago, but I have continued to travel to Canada. My “Aha” Moment collided with the shock of the cold weather. It made me realize that I was I acting on autopilot. Recognizing this default action, if you will, I was able to change my behavior. I am grateful for this light bulb moment; thank you cold weather!

Listen

To hear an “Aha” Moment you need to listen deeply for the signals and be open to receiving them. In our busy lives we tend to be immune to our inner selves, our surroundings or what is happening in our environment.

Often “Aha” Moments happen very quietly over and over again in our bodies, mind and spirit, and we don’t listen. Then all of a sudden the ‘Divine Smack’ happens and we have to listen. It is like the universe saying, ‘when the hell will this person get it, I guess I have to really show them. Here you go! SMACK!’ This tends to throw you sideways a bit and you wonder what has happened.

Some of us still don’t listen. It has been my experience if the divine smack happens once or twice and we continue not to listen, then it will reappear until we do. Has this ever happened to you?

Learning about the Stop Light

How do you use the learning from the “Aha” Moment? Do you say, ‘Oh wow that was powerful, I must remember that,’ and then you rapidly forget the learning and proceed on the treadmill of life? Or do you stop and take the time to integrate it into your life?

I suggest that you might want to think of a traffic light – red, yellow, green. The “Aha” Moment is the Red Light (which makes you stop in your tracks), the Yellow Light is the learning (you discover) and the Green Light is putting this learning into action and integrating it into your life.

If you don’t integrate that learning you have thrown away the innate wisdom of the universe that is giving you important, conscious information. These “Aha” Moments are gifts, presents and blessings of your Wisdom appearing in the conscious form.

What have you done with your “Aha” Moments?

It is worth reflecting upon as you are worth all the Wisdom that exists within you, and more!

Please share with me, if you wish, your “Aha” Moments and what you have learned from them at info@kevincottam.com


Habits – The Good, The Bad, the New

By Kevin Cottam, PCC, BSc

“Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.” ― Mark Twain

Crossroad sign for good and bad habits

How to consciously create new habits that lead to high Performance

Have you ever stepped back for a moment to look at the habits you have created in your life?  How are they serving you? Habits are the result of the conscious or unconscious choices you have made manifesting in your day-to-day behaviour.

My Nasty Old Habit

I recently realized that I have this bad habit of putting my iPhone beside my bed.  I bet this is typical of many modern day human beings!  When I wake up I look at it and get totally wrapped up in the noise of this device – the text messages, the emails, Facebook and other social media platforms, the negative news – the list goes one. This doesn’t generally start my day in an effervescent or positive way.

What I have realized is that my mind, body and spirit gets wrapped up in the cacophony of messages and that these messages are generally not serving my energetic state of being or my desired goals.  So what happens is that I begin to feel like crap, more negative and less focused on what is actually important and what I am in control of.  Plus, I am way less productive.  And the day has just started.  Dumb huh?! This is only one of the habits I wish to change.

Because I recognised that this is a habit that I want to change, I am currently dissecting my habits. I am preserving the good, removing or transforming the bad and creating new habits that lead me to my desired state of being in my life.  I can say this is very rewarding.  I invite you to come along with me on this journey. 

How Habits Appear

Repeating the same thing over and over again until it becomes automatic is how a habit is formed. Like teaching your dog to sit, or learning a new exercise program, or learning a new software program.  Therefore, to create a new habit, the new choices you want or desire must be repeated over and over again in the same order that benefits your desired state of being or goal.  Research has shown that this must be done religiously every day for at least 21 days before a new habit sinks in.

Books on Habits

There are many personal development books and talks on creating habits and getting rid of unwanted habits. I have certainly read many books on this subject of Habits; the good, the bad and the new. The two books that stand out for me are The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy and The Full Power of Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwarz.

The Full Power of Engagement speaks about making choices that create habits that boost your energy. A habit should complement your different energetic capacities; mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.  In other words, your engagement or performance in life is dictated by how you spend your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy.  This all leads to making choices in your life that lead to creating habits that are energetically driving you to high performance or the way you want to live in your optimal state of being.

The Compound Effect has driven me to re-evaluate the different habits I have in my life.  As I have said before, habits are the results of the conscious and sometimes unconscious choices we make depending on where we are in our life and the goals we wish to achieve.

Get off the Treadmill

Some of your habits were created years ago and now they do not serve your new situation, desires or state in life, i.e. relationships, daily processes, communications or goals.  However, you still do them because you are on automatic pilot; you never get off the treadmill of life to question your choices and the habits that follow.  It is time to get off the treadmill before it throws you off and you really get injured.

Of course some of your habits may be very beneficial and work well. You may then want to preserve them or give them a bit of a tweak.  The bad habits probably limit your excellence in life, the way you behave and how you determine what choices you make.  These are the ones you need to really get rid of or transform.  The next step is to create new choices that lead to new habits that really benefit your desired state of being, where you want to go professionally or personally in life.  You get to choose, remember.

My New Productive Habit

Going back to the bad habit with my iPhone that I want to change; here is what I now do: I wake up; look at the time on my iPhone; I rest and think about my 3 goals for the day; I give gratitude to the day & then meditate for 30 minutes or more; get my breakfast; do a few wake up exercises; sit down and do my creative work for about 1.5 -2 hours; then this work/creative cycle repeats itself in the rest of the day; oh almost forgot – I also turn off the Mail so that I don’t get interrupted. Once I have started my day in a positive and productive way only then do I look at my messages and emails.  I now only look at the news twice a day; emails three times a day; I am interacting in a limited way on Social Media.  I am reading inspirational material before sleeping and I can say I feel way more productive, energized and more positive.

Of course this is my new habit. You create your own new habit depending on what your goals are and how you want to feel.  Recreate the state of being you want and unchain yourself from your old habits that are no longer serving you.

 

How to Create New Habits

Change your habits

There are a number of steps you can take to throw out the old & bring in the new.

  1. Make a list of the old habits you want to throw out and the new ones you want to create
  2. Decide on the new sustainable choices you want depending on the goal you wish to achieve. e. happier life, better relationships, more efficient or productive life
  3. Decide on a start date & stick to it
  4. Perhaps choose a buddy to report to you and share how you are doing
  5. Take very small steps towards creating the habit or one large leap if that works for you as a person
  6. If you fall off the wagon, step back and consciously look at what is happening, tweak the choices if necessary, then get back to the habit.
  7. Actively change one habit at a time for maximum success

Remember, this is a very conscious process of changing your habit until it becomes so settled into your system that it will be repeated unconsciously. The point of this exercise is to live a conscious-aware life by improving yourself, your processes, your choices, your goals or your desired joyful state of being.

Happy New Habits.  

Kevin Cottam, a global nomad who helps others Shine brightly and perform at their creative best.


Invite Spontaneity into Your 2017

‘The essence of pleasure is spontaneity.’ Germaine Greer

Dictionary.com meaning: Spontaneous – coming or resulting from a natural impulse or tendency; without effort or premeditation; natural and unconstrained; unplanned

How does this dictionary meaning resonate with you? Do you love the feeling of being spontaneous? For me, the chemistry in my whole mind, body and spirit changes and it feels so delicious.

As I was sitting on my yoga mat, the yoga teacher started to speak about a story of how important it is to get take a break from your goals and objectives and simply be spontaneous.
Aha, what a reminder! I gave this some thought on my mat and then began my yoga practice following her directions. I also gave myself permission to be natural and unconstrained by following my impulse to spontaneously correct my positions due to my injured hand and just be more fluid. Normally, I would painfully do what the teacher said so dutifully.

Why do we even have to have this reminder about spontaneity? Seems silly, doesn’t it? Strange how we as adults have to have these conversations with ourselves. After the class, it got me thinking about my life, spontaneity and Resolutions or what I like to call them Re-Solutions. Yes, I feel that if I am going to make a Re-Solution for 2017 it is going to be spontaneity which will bring me forth a freer and more flexible life. Ahhh, the breath of freedom this gives me.

‘I’m a great believer in spontaneity because I think planning is the most destructive thing in the world.’ John Cassavetes

We ‘should’ make Goals!?

That word ‘should’ already gives me the creeps. As we go through our lives we are told we ‘should’ make goals and more goals and more goals for this or for that. Yet with all that formality of getting to those goals, we often forget about being totally spontaneous and taking a break from the ‘usual’. In fact, sometime I even hear myself saying I need to plan or even factor in spontaneity. Weird huh! I want now to just let spontaneity naturally appear. I love the feeling when I am spontaneous. What about you?

Change your Routines

I even had a partner who kept saying to me that I am not spontaneous enough. I was a bit defiant and said yes I am. Has anyone ever said that to you? Now I believe I am beginning to understand what he meant. A recent story comes to mind.

For many years I have had pretty much the same predictable travel schedule of when I would return to Canada during the year to help my family and be with my aging mother who I dearly loved. After she passed away two years ago, I have continued to repeat the same routine and schedule, like on automatic pilot. Finally, on December 28th – the same day I would return every year – when I landed to the horrible cold, I had an Aha Moment. I said, I don’t have to be here now and continue doing this routine? What am I doing, I said to self? Are you crazy leaving the heat of Singapore by coming to the cold in Vancouver? I said, I don’t want to do this anymore and have decided to not keep this routine during this 2017 or forward. I want to be freer.

Learn from Children

‘Spontaneity, the hallmark of childhood, is well worth cultivating to counteract the rigidity that may otherwise set in as we grow older.’ Gail Sheehy

In reflection, I was not that spontaneous at all. Just doing the same routine without even thinking any other way. Now ask yourself how spontaneous are you? Yes, when you have families you have to plan stuff, however, just take a lesson from your children. And if you don’t have children watch them play and discover or reflect back to when you were a child. In fact, I think this is something we all might want to reconsider as adults. Children are so spontaneous and joyful in their exploration.

Somehow all the complexities of life have taught us to drain the spontaneity out of us because we should be ‘adult’. True, goals and being adult are important; however, when you let them take over every minute of your waking life you can become very very boring. Most of us have lost this spontaneity in many ways. When you allow spontaneity to happen creativity, innovation and a zest for life also happens. Think about it!

Do you want to be more Spontaneous?

Perhaps a Re-Solution for you this year is to simply be spontaneous and feel your natural impulse without premeditation. You have been very spontaneous in your life and perhaps you still are. Now take a moment and think about how it truly feels to be spontaneous. Don’t think of the result just the free feeling it gives you. Is this something that is lacking in your life? If so, what are you going to do about it?

What are you going to do about it?

I really feel it is super silly to give you ways to be spontaneous. You know how to be, so reach back into your childhood and just be more spontaneous. Free yourself up to just sense your natural impulse. You are intelligent enough to simply Be Spontaneous and see what this does for your life, your relationships, your work. Go for it, what do you have to lose? Not much and gain a hell of a lot!

Funny how spontaneously sitting on that yoga mat inspired this blog post. 🙂 Have fun and be playful exploring your spontaneity and let me know how you feel!