Picture This Qoute

Creativity is a Joke II

Is a creative solution to a difficult problem nothing but a joke?

To get us started, consider the following joke: a group of armed robbers burst into a bank, line up customers and staff against the wall, and begin to take everything from them. Two of the bank’s accountants are among those waiting to be robbed. The first accountant suddenly gets something out of his pocket and put it in the other accountant's hand. The second accountant whispers, “What is this?” and The first accountant replied, “It’s the 100 bucks I owe you.

This is funny but it is also very smart and creative solution.

Jokes like these made me realize that creativity and humor have a lot of common. I now believe that a creative solution or let say break through is nothing but a physical joke. Both require a transition between two meanings by a connection point.

 To illustrate and prove my point, let take an example of each and analyze it:

 First the joke:
Sam walks into his boss’s office and say. “Sir, I’ll be straight with you, I know the economy isn’t great, but you know how smart and hard worker I am. In face, I currently have over three companies after me, and I would like to respectfully ask for a raise.”
After a few minutes of thinking the boss finally agrees to a 5% raise.
Sam happily gets up to leave. When his boss asked: “By the way” “which three companies are after you?” Sam said: Well they are “The electric company, Water Company, and Phone Company” are after me to pay their bills.

If you analyze the joke you notice that it starts with something we are all familiar with. Then, there is a buildup before the punch line is reached. The punch line is what makes us laugh and it is usually a connection with another meaning that was not unexpected.

The connection point in the last joke are the words "after me" which is subject to misinterpretation or right interpretation.

Now let's take a creative solution example:
The people who invented the food can opening method got their idea from somewhere completely unrelated, or at least seem unrelated.

 They imitated the "opening" of a banana

Here the connection point is the word “open”.
We have an unsolved problem: A can needs to be opened.
We know a seemingly unrelated solved problem: We know how to "open" a banana. Why not open the can like a banana. Problem is solved.

The English writer William Plomer once said “Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected".

One profound similarity is the environment: when you tell a joke you must consider the time, the place and the people hearing the joke. You would not tell a joke in a funeral, nor tell a stereotype joke to people affected by the stereotype. Also, a creative idea has its time, place, and people.

Consider the following, a company called "Design that Matter" knew that millions of children in the developing world die each year because they we are born in a place that lack new born incubators. Buying incubators from the market and shipping them there is not a feasible solution because they are very expensive and if it breaks there is no one who can fix it. In one particular area,  they asked a "connection" question? What do these people have in abundance? What have they solved already?
They noticed that there are many Toyota Forerunner everywhere and it seems that these people have the spare parts and the skills to maintain these cars running. So they designed incubators completely from that car spare parts. Problem is solved and millions of children are saved.

Einstein famously said that "a problem cannot be solved in the same mindset that created them". You know now what he meant. You have got to look for seemingly unrelated connection.

Consider how David's mother used what she knew to solve her son's challenge in the following joke:

 So David Is finally engaged, and is excited to show off his new bride:
 “Ma”, he said to his Mother, “I’m going to bring home three girls and I want you to guess which one is my fiancĂ©.”
 Later, David walks in the door with three girls following behind him.
“It’s that one”, said his mother.
 without blinking an eye.
 David shouted “how in the world did you know it was her?”
She said: I just don’t like her.

David's mother knew that mother in law don't usually like their son’s wife so she picked the one she didn't like.

In conclusion humor and creativity have the same structure, environment and require a connection between two meanings. That's why I think they are just two faces of one coin.

On being a Toastmaster

The last time I attended a Toastmasters club meeting, a fellow toastmaster asked a question:

Why are we here in toastmasters? 

He then answered that we are here to improve our communication and leadership skills.

Since I am interested in philosophy and psychology, I thought his answer wasn’t sufficient. Despite that it is the right answer because that was what toastmasters program is intended to do.

Therefore, I will now tell you, why I go to toastmasters club meetings by answering another question: why do we do anything at all?

Twenty four hundred years ago Aristotle said:
"Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life; it is the whole aim and the end of human existence”.

Although people may pursue money, fame, social status and everything else, they do it because they believe that will make happy. Afterlife believers, including myself, believe that our aim is to obtain an eternal happiness, a type of happiness that transcends this life to the afterlife.

In the other hand, lack of happiness can lead people to lose their minds, commit crimes and end their own lives. Thus, your happiness is a serious matter and whether you know it or not, you are driving yourself crazy to put a smile on your face. Do you know how to obtain happiness or are merely stumbling on it every now and then?

A lot has been said about happiness, and you will hear it defined differently from different people. Some think that happiness is financial success but we have heard of some wealthy successful people end up using drugs, taking depression bills, or committing suicide.

Others believe that happiness is contentment and we hear them saying something like "happiness is not getting what you want, but wanting what you already have". This is Nonsense because there is a thin line between being content and being complacent and your complacency could stop you from becoming the person you want to be and when you are old, you will reflect sadly of what you could’ve been.

Me: OH Aristotle, it has been 2400 years and we don't seem like we are any closer to understand the purpose of life. Can you help us?

Aristotle: Yes my dear, Happiness is the perfection of human nature.

Me: Perfection of human nature: What does that even mean?

In my opinion, there is one person who had an excellent theory of human nature and thus knew happiness well to articulate Aristotle definition of happiness: that is the psychologist Abraham Maslow. Maslow said that inside each one of us, an essential biological inner natural that’s intrinsic, given, and in a certain limited sense unchangeable. He summarized his idea in a theory famously known as the hierarchy of needs.

As human beings there are five levels of needs that at every moment of time we are trying to fulfill one or more. At the bottom of this hierarchy there are our physiological needs: the need to breath, eat, drink, sleep and anything related to our bodies and they come as the highest priority for us to fulfill.

Then there are safety needs: where we seek employment, protection, and stability.

The next level is the social needs: where we begin to feel the need to belong, the need for friends, a lover, and a community.

The forth level is the need for self-respect and self-esteem: this level involves the need for the respect of others the need of status, fame, appreciation and recognition. This level also involves the need for self-respect by having feelings as confidence, sense of achievement, independence and freedom.

The final level of the hierarchy of needs is the level of self-actualization where we try to fulfill every potential to become our ultimate-self. This is our essential inner nature and perfecting it is what Aristotle thought of happiness.

We live in the age of the upper two levels: the level of self-esteem and self-actualization. Therefore, If we were starving to death, or in an unsafe environment, or we don’t belong to a community. We wouldn’t be in toastmasters and we would be fighting to get our highest priority needs.

We attend toastmasters meeting to get the respect of others and ourselves and to become the best we can be.

In conclusion, happiness is driving our lives like we drive our cars, taking us places and making us do what we do at every moment of time.