The fallacy of the “Aha!” moment.

In my experience, a lot of people sit around, waiting for an “Aha!” moment. A moment in ones life that changes everything for them. They know what to do, how to go about it, and begin to feel assured and confident about their own lives. Until this magical moment occurs, we do what comes naturally: we wait. Some people, they actually receive this moment – but not without hardship.

Most people who have an “Aha!” moment do so through a traumatic experience, a near death sort of thing – something that reminds them of their own mortality. The switch is flipped, and they go and make the most of their lives. While some experiences may be some sort of enlightenment about a facet of their lives, do you know what that “Aha!”  moment is for most people who have them? It’s the realization that there is NO “Aha!” moment, and that they are only wasting time when they wait, time spent not fully living.

Take, for instance, those who attend college. Working hard towards their degree, figuring everything will work out because they are taking the “correct path.” They figure the dream job will just lay itself across their lap, or that with enough learning, they’ll be able to create in the way to make a living. That isn’t to say that college doesn’t have its merits or that students are lazy, but too many people go that route thinking there will be an “Aha!” moment payoff upon graduating. You only need to know a few graduates to see that that isn’t the case.

Instead of waiting for this magical moment, we have to decide to take action. Don’t just daydream about an ideal self, figure out what steps you can take right now. Our entire lives are lived in the present moment, where the past and future only hold as much weight as we give them. It is foolish to assume the next day.

We get in these habits and patterns and we feel comfortable because nothing truly “bad” happens immediately. We put off exercising for the day? It’s not like we’ll gain 10 pounds. We put off following our dreams for a day? It’s not like we’re dead tomorrow. Given enough days like these, however, there can be consequences.

This line of thinking is dangerous because it leads to complacency and that willingness to wait for an “Aha!” moment, one that never comes. The brain loves habits and that which is known and comfortable. We don’t exercise because it’s easier not to, and the alternative is discomforting. However, you can develop GOOD habits in as little time as it took you to develop bad ones. With enough effort, you can make your brain feel comfortable getting outside your comfort zone! The days where you don’t exercise or choose to follow your dreams will feel like the odd outliers.

Another way we tend to get in our own way and settle for waiting for an “Aha!” moment is through idealistic comparisons. Some may be more fleshed out than others, but most of us have some sort of ideal self that we think about. This person could be rich, famous, successful, accomplished, etc. Where we go wrong, if you’re anything like me, is getting down on ourselves for not yet being that person. This can be a viscous cycle, as we lament not being our ideal selves, and react in a pouty and/or self destructive way. We make our present moment worse through these comparisons, instead of figuring out how to use that present moment to our advantage. Having these ideals isn’t inherently a bad thing, we just have to be aware of how we go about relating to them. These ideals should always be the carrot on the stick driving us forward, and not the pack of self doubt and hostility weighing us down.

In my personal life, I’ve had several disappointments lately. I’ve fallen into these traps of lamenting my current situation, acting in self destructive ways instead of taking charge of what I can control. This has been my usual course of action for my entire life, unfortunately. I wait for that “Aha!” moment where I become my ideal self, only to act out in ways that take me the opposite direction. I bow to the expectations and desires of others, unwilling to face the discomfort that focusing solely on my ambitions would cause. It’s unusual to take charge of your own life, while it’s normal to wait for the “Aha!” and go about life on the surface level.

Yet I am the one that is left looking at myself in the mirror each day, asking “Why not yet? How much longer do I have to wait?” I am tired of the sad look the mirror gives me when I ask that question, never receiving a reply. It won’t be easy, a daily grind even, but I have to ask myself which I prefer : Distracting myself from life and dealing with the disappointment of fruitless, eternal waiting? OR Making a conscious decision to make the most of the present moment, being the best I possibly can in the now and knowing the slow, hard road is the only way to realizing my ideal self?

Sacrifices will be made. Resistance will be great. Trails will be multiple. I know this, but I plan on moving forward, and I fully invite you to join me. Figure out what it is that you desire, and see if there is anything truly holding you back, besides yourself.

I’m tired of asking, “When will my life change?”


Forget the “Aha!” moment, and start being proactive in the present moment.

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