For Genius, Stop Thinking

You know how some people claim they do their best thinking in the shower? The reason is that they are using more of their brain. Genius requires using all of our brain, even our unconscious brain.

Geniuses Albert Einstein and Henri Poincaré solved the biggest problems in physics, one using math and the other using physics. But they didn’t discover the answers in labs or while scribbling on chalkboards. When these eureka moments occurred, Einstein was riding in a streetcar and Poincaré was on a walk along a cliff on a vacation.

As professor Adam Galinsky from the Columbia Business School explains, “Conscious thought is better at making linear, analytical decisions [while] unconscious thought is especially effective at solving complex problems.” For a complex problem, you might need more than your conscious brain.

Want to be a positive genius, an Einstein at life? Think about the biggest challenge facing you now. How will you scale your business? How can you help a depressed family member? How do you create happiness in a crazy world? Then intentionally plan moments during the week to intentionally NOT think about this problem. Give your unconscious brain a chance. Meditate, go for a run, go on vacation—sometimes the best way to move forward is to stop.


Shawn Achor is a Harvard-trained researcher and best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness. Get a daily dose of happy at Shawn's Facebook page.

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