Old enough to have my own problems, yet young enough to believe my father’s word without question, as a child, I spent countless evenings seeking his advice. At 6 p.m., I’d sit at the kitchen table, facing the back door. I wanted to be first to present my concerns to him. It was always a short wait. Like clockwork, my father walked through the door at 6:15.

He sat beside me, patiently listening and sometimes asking questions. A man of few words, Dad’s answer to all of my dilemmas was simply, “I think you should sleep on it.” For many years it was a familiar routine. I talked. Dad listened. Then came his advice: “Sleep on it.”

One day, my teenage frustration got the better of me, and I could stand it no longer. “How will sleeping on it help, Dad? What does that solve, anyway? Don’t you understand? I have this problem, and I need an answer, now.”

My father was silent. He looked at me, and in that moment I could see that he was making a decision. I grew quiet, realizing that something important was about to happen.

Then, Dad said, “I think you’re old enough now to understand this concept. Let me give you an example. Last night, I was working on my model ship. Often, the kits come incomplete. Parts are missing, the instructions are in disarray or, even worse, inaccurate. Assembling the model itself is challenging enough, but when you run into problems of this nature . . . well, I find that I end up having to improvise quite a bit.

“There’s a certain point in building the model where you have to proceed very carefully. A wrong move can mean lots of wasted time and energy. I could try to explain what the problem was, but since you’re unfamiliar with model ships . . . the point is, I was perplexed. I just couldn’t figure out the next step, no matter how hard I tried.

“When I went to bed last night, I thought again about the situation. And then I asked for the solution to the problem to come to me while I was sleeping.”

“Who did you ask, Dad? Who were you talking to?” I interrupted.

“Well, I believe that we all have the answers within us. When we listen, we can hear the answers. And you know what? I woke up about two in the morning with the solution! I don’t know why I hadn’t seen it before. It may seem really simple, but it works. I’ve found answers to all kinds of problems this way. I could tell you about times when your mother and I have had difficult decisions to make, or I’ve been worried over something at work.

“When you’re faced with a problem and need a solution, sleep on it. Ask for the solution to come to you. It can’t hurt, and it just might help. It sure works for me.”

“I think you need to sleep on it” has proven to be among the best advice Dad’s ever given me. Over the years I’ve used this simple technique in a variety of ways.

Early on, I found great benefit simply by distancing myself from the problem. By allowing it to marinate overnight, meat is tenderized. By allowing a problem to marinate for a few hours, often, its “toughness” is reduced as well, and sometimes, the problem even resolves itself completely! Other times, I wake up with an “ah-ha” experience, where the solution is laid out before me. Just like my father, I wonder why I hadn’t seen it before. It seems so simple when you know how.

Recently, I’ve discovered a brand new use for this technique: inspiration! I don’t always have to have a problem that needs solving; it’s okay to ask for inspiration as well! I stumbled onto this discovery through a real estate deal. I’d purchased a fixer-upper, and boy, did it need fixing up, from new siding and windows to all new flooring and furniture and everything in between. It took several months to renovate. When it was finished, I looked around and said to myself, “You know, this is good. Really good.”

Then, I went outside and under the house to the pool area. (I live in a coastal community, and the houses here are built on pilings.) I saw that it was bad. Beyond bad. Awful, really. All the magic was inside the house! I needed magic under the house, too, but the months of renovations had exhausted me. I was worn out and weary, clueless as to what the right touch was or even how to approach it.

It had been a difficult day, and a long one. I flung myself onto the bed that night, too tired to undress. Frustrated, I called out, “I want a fabulous tiki bar. I don’t know how to begin. I cannot see what to do. I need inspiration. Show it to me, show it to me, please.”

Then, I fell into a deep sleep.

I awoke at 3:30 a.m. I had had the most wonderful dream! I’d seen how to do it; I saw the tiki bar built and painted. The underpinning was alive, the colors of a tropical sky in Caribbean blues and blue-greens. The pilings around the pool had been transformed into palm trees, the tops of the trees painted on the underpinning as though they were swaying in the gentle midsummer’s breeze. Toucans, parrots, macaws, and cockatoos sat perched on the branches in the trees or peeking through the colorful foliage near the bottom.

The outdoor shower nearly glowed in lime green, pink, and purple hues. Inside the shower a mermaid beckoned, an octopus guarded a treasure chest, a seahorse swam lazily by, and a dolphin leapt. Deeper blues and greens striped the outside of the bar, and inside, splashes of bold green and orange, red and yellow.

There was more. Much more.

I hardly slept the rest of the night. At the paint store early the next morning I had a list of colors to mix. The trunk of my car loaded down with paint, I went to work. After the background colors were finished I hired a local artist to paint what I had seen. Each day, a new idea would come. The more I turned my thoughts to it and reflected on the tiki bar, the more I was deluged with even better ideas!

When it was completed, I looked around, amazed at the result—it really was fabulous! I’m filled with wonder at the inspiration and creativity that was just waiting to be tapped into . . . when I chose to “sleep on it.”

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit http://www.selfgrowth.com/greatways.html

Author's Bio: 

Holleay T. Parcker is a realtor whose many successes are attributed to listening to the “still, small voice” within. It is her firm belief that great success in the real estate world is directly proportional to using the power of intuition. She shares her wisdom with other realtors and anyone else who is interested in the “intuition–real estate” connection through her book, The Enlightened Realtor. Holleay invites you to learn how to use your intuitive guidance radar system for success, not only as a real estate agent or broker, but in any field you choose. For more information, or to see a picture of the tiki bar described above, visit http://www.RealEstateIntuition.com.