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Can a tape measure spark a life-changing “aha” moment? Just ask Amy Boyle.

How a conversation sparked a life-changing aha moment for Amy Boyle

Photo by Alessandro Paiva

I remember as a kid playing with my dad’s retractable tape measure. I’d pull the tape all the way out, lock it into place, and then with a careful flick of my thumb release the lock and watch as the full length careened back inside the casing in no time flat.

For me a tape measure was a toy. For Amy Boyle, it was the catalyst for a life-changing “aha” moment, one that she would recall years later in a letter to the Edmonton Journal.

Life was nothing but problems stacked upon problems. At seventeen years old, Amy was certain of it.

One day she shared her troubles, all of them, with her dad’s business partner. “Life’s too short to have complaints and problems,” he told Amy and encouraged her to think about the people who hadn’t had the privilege of living long enough to experience life’s challenges.

Amy didn’t buy it. Instead, she asked for proof.

The man pointed to a retractable measuring tape. He told Amy to extend the tape its full length and then to lock it into place. He instructed her to find her age on the ruler and, then, to look down the length to 70″ or 75,” a person’s average life span.

In an emotional flash of clarity Amy got the message. “Ever since then I have never taken anything for granted,” she wrote.

Len Saunders’ Healthy Tip #157 – An “Aha” Moment

Len Saunders prints a healthy tip from Donna Hartney, author of "aha" moment self-help book

Len Saunders recently shared on his blog a tip from me on getting one step closer to a healthy lifestyle. Click here to read the post.

Lindsay Lohan Had an Epiphany! Did She or Didn’t She?

According to news reports, Lindsay Lohan has experienced a life-chaning "aha" moment

Celebrity news was abuzz last week with the story—Lindsay Lohan has had an epiphany! At least according to an interview that Mark Heller, her new attorney, had with E! News. (A google of “Lindsay Lohan epiphany” on Saturday netted 361,000 results.)

Okay, I  know what you’re thinking. We’ve been here before. We’ve watched the revolving door that is Lindsay’s life. An ongoing omg! poll of readers found that (at the time I wrote this) only 4% believed it’s real this time, while the remaining 96% think it’s just “more of the same.”

Her attorney said in the interview, “…being re-arrested and facing going back to jail caused her to have an epiphany. Some times the cumulative effect of everything in your life percolates and you have a realization and a clarity that things have to change.”

I read this looking for clues of a pivotal insight as I thought about my three criteria for an AHA! (At this point all we have to go on is the interview with her lawyer. I didn’t find any first-hand comments by Lindsay.)

  1. A sudden flash of clarity. Epiphany. Realization. Clarity. The lawyer used these words to describe Lindsay’s experience. Did that clarity arrive suddenly in a jolt of understanding? We don’t know.
  2. About the reality of the situation. “…a clarity that things have to change.” Has Lindsay woken up to that realization? Is it her new reality? Again, all we have to go on is one brief comment by her lawyer.
  3. That has a profound and lasting impact on Lindsay. Her lawyer mentioned that she is exploring options—working with girls who are hospitalized and/or speaking to schools.

It’s too early to tell whether Lindsay’s experience was truly a pivotal, life-changing insight. I certainly hope for Lindsay’s sake that this time it’s a real “aha” moment, one that will have a powerfully positive impact on her life.

Can an AHA! Help You Beat a Cigarette Addiction? You Bet!

As I’ve been working on a press release on the power of AHA!s to break a nicotine addiction, I remember my mom’s struggle to stop smoking. She started smoking as a teenager. Over the next 40 plus years she tried many time to put down her cigarettes but always went back to them. Then at age 60, she decided to quit smoking—cold turkey, and never looked back. Five years later I asked her about her decision. To which she said, “I decided to do it. I did it. It was easy.”

Researchers have found that nicotine is powerfully addictive. How do people suddenly overcome a nicotine addiction in order to stop smoking? An AHA! can make all the difference. Check out this Mutual of Omaha aha moment video in which Christian of sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico, describes why he began to smoke, the moment of clarity that convinced him to stop smoking, and the power impact that AHA! had on his health and well-being.

What triggered Christian’s AHA!? Seeing himself clearly.

An AHA! Could Give You What You Need to Shed Unwanted Pounds recently posted two blogs that spotlighted AHA!s that lead to weight loss. They’re great stories! Theresa Benoit experienced a flash of clarity when she discovered some dated pictures of herself. Mommyweighless was hit with her AHA! after an annual checkup.

M.D. Jeanette N. Keith, a Buffalo-based gastroenterologist, says that she’s a believer in the importance of insights when it comes to losing weight. In an interview with Jane Kwiatkowski of The Buffalo News, Dr. Keith said,”Every individual who I’ve talked to has had a different ‘”aha” moment.” But what is similar is the inner motivation that allows them to stick with their program. Your friends and family may want it for you, but until you own it, the change just won’t happen.”

What tends to trigger a weight-loss AHA!? The biggest trigger, I have found, is catching a glimpse of yourself, whether it’s by seeing yourself in a photo or mirror or seeing yourself through the eyes of others. (There are four weight loss accounts included in The AHA! Handbook: How to spark the insights that will transform your life and career. Kelly Jens, Julie Hadden, and Nathan Phillips each experienced an AHA! after seeing themselves clearly, while Bil Cornelius was hit with a flash of clarity when he saw himself from the perspective of others.)

AHA! Alert: Alicia Keys Trades Compromise for Cooperation

I love reading AHA! stories. Don’t you? In this month’s issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, Alicia Keys described an AHA! that has had a powerful impact in her life.

Alicia had always relied on the people closest to her for advice, whether she was making simple what-to-wear decisions or long-lasting career decisions. The problem was that she often found herself bending to the wishes of others rather than following her own instincts.

Then the comment of a friend triggered a pivotal insight for Alicia. “Don’t compromise—cooperate!” the friend said. In a sudden flash of clarity Alicia got the message. It wasn’t an either-or situation! She could listen to the advice of the VIPs in her life and remain true to herself. In the days and weeks that followed, she did exactly that. (Alicia’s story is such a great one! Here’s the link if you’d like to read what she wrote in O.)

Before I pass along a story to you, I look for signs that the realization was truly is an AHA! I ask myself three questions, and Alicia’s AHA! story passed the test with flying colors:

You see, not all ahas are created equally. I’m interested in AHA!s not ordinary ahas. AHA!s are those sudden flashes of clarity about the reality of a situation that have a profound, lasting impact on a person’s life. Now that’s powerful!

Andrew Zimmern shares his life-changing AHA! in Guideposts magazine

Photo by Revati Upadhya

I just love stories life-changing AHA!s. Don’t you? I just read in this month’s issue of Guideposts magazine the powerful story of how an epiphany put Andrew Zimmern’s life back on track after he had struggled for years with a drug addiction.

If you watch the Travel Channel, you’ve probably seen Andrew’s show, Bizarre Foods. He travels the world to introduce his audience to the foods that people in other cultures eat—things they consider delicacies, things we couldn’t imagine eating.

Andrew knew as a boy that that he wanted a career in the food industry. While in high school, he began working in a restaurant, and from there he steadily worked his way up to become an executive chef and then a food service consultant. Along the way Andrew also became addicted to drugs, alcohol, and prescription medication. Eventually he lost everything—his work, his apartment, his friends and family. (more…)