Combinatory Play

Albert Einstein was a seminal theoretical physicist who advanced the science of his day. We still experience the profound effects of his breakthrough theories. Yet Einstein famously said that he never came upon his discoveries through the process of rational thinking. So, how did this school dropout at 15 solve the mysteries of the universe?

Einstein said "imagination is more important than genius." He used what he called thought experiments including seeing himself chasing a light beam, which prompted his discovery of special relativity.

But to keep his imagination fueled, Einstein used combinatory play. He would work on a physics problem, then play the piano or violin. The patterns in the music stimulated him to perceive the similarities and interconnections which brought into play his unconscious mind. He did the same with viewing art, noting the "happy feelings of intensity" he experienced.

When you work on a presentation or talk, use combinatory play to activate your imagination. Go to an art exhibition, pick up an instrument, see a concert, or sing favorite songs. But keep your antenna up. Your unconscious mind will kick in and give you extra muscle to create your own brilliant, unique piece.

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