Ever been stuck on a problem that you couldn't find an answer to? Maybe a problem at work evading a solution? Or can't figure out how to finish a project at home? We all face them at some point and they can leave us in that pulling-your-hair-out mode of frustration.
But there's actually some evidence that the best way to find the solution is completely opposite of what you might think. Instead of banging your head on the wall hoping a flash of genius floods your neurons, the best way to find a solution might be to not think about the problem at all.
Here's how it works. The unconscious part of your brain is constantly working on trillions of pieces of information. It sees, hears, feels, and catches the most minute things. Of course, you're only consciously aware of the smallest fraction. When you get stuck and force your brain to find answers it just bumps up against its own limits. And you get nowhere.
When you put the work away, something strange happens. Your unconscious mind continues hashing out the problem. While you enjoy a book, go for a walk, or clean the house your mind is still silently filtering through all the data like the programs that run behind the scenes on your computer. Doing another task and occupying your conscious mind gets the road block out of the way.
Suddenly, VOILA! Brilliance strikes and the answer is suddenly revealed. For me, mowing the lawn turns out to be where I do some of my best "thinking." In the end, what I'm doing is putting my conscious mind to work on something else and letting my unconscious brain consider way more possibilities and present potential solutions I couldn't see when I just kept thinking about it.
Ironically, the best way to find a solution to a "thinking" problem, is to stop thinking about the problem and try something else. You can always come back to it with a fresh look. Or just maybe inspiration will come and the answer will suddenly appear. It's not magic, it's science!