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AHA!s: What makes them so special

Last week several of my friends and I were sitting around chatting at a holiday party. One friend said excitedly that she had just finished reading my book and had loved it. Then she said, “Once a person has an aha, they have to make a decision to do something about it in order for it to have an impact on their lives. It takes a lot of work.”

Hmmm, I thought. The kind of aha that she’s talking about really isn’t an AHA! at all. It’s just a plain vanilla insight. I strung together a few off-the-cuff sentences as I tried to explain the difference. I could tell from the look on her face that what I said didn’t register. At that point I changed the subject. It was a party afterall, not a university lecture.

I’ve been thinking my friend’s comment all week. How could I explain to her, and others, the awesome power of an AHA! to transform a person’s life in a flash of clarity? Let me try…

From my friend’s perspective, in order for an aha to impact a person’s life, that person has to make a conscious decision to change and then to work hard to follow through on that decision. Here’s how I’d diagram my friend’s view of an aha:

aha + decision to change + a lot of work = significant, enduring life change

AHA!s are much more powerful than that. They are a special kind of aha. Their impact is instantaneous, direct, and profound because they change a person’s view of reality. I would diagram one this way:

AHA! = Significant, enduring life change

Truly, it’s as simple as that. With an AHA!, a person’s reality—her understanding of the way things work—is forever changed. When a person’s reality changes, she doesn’t need to decide to change or to work hard to change. The change flows naturally and effortlessly from her new understanding. It’s just the way things are.

When you’ve experienced an aha, you’ll know it’s an AHA! if you find that your thoughts, feelings, and actions automatically and effortless align to your new understanding. Now that’s something I get very excited about!