Creativity: The Art of Happiness

People often think of creativity as major breakthroughs. However, according to the class I am taking creativity exists on two levels; with each level representing a different type of creative problem solving.

Big “C” creativity makes giant leaps for humanity, and include such milestones as the polio vaccine and space travel.  Here is an example of a “Big C” that changed my life.

flow

I came across Mihály Csikszentmihályi’s work while I was a doctoral student in the 90’s.  Two decades earlier, Csikszentmihályi had become fascinated by artists, especially painters, who got so lost in their work that they would disregard their need for other activities such as eating or sleeping for long periods of time.  Csikszentmihályi’s research focused on understanding the phenomenon experienced by these artists.  His flow research and theory of flow were used by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers in developing their theories.

Flow, also known as being in the zone athletes, is the mental state where someone is fully immersed in an activity.  It is a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment of the process, usually with a resulting loss in ability to sense of space and time.

Flow is a balancing act between the level of skill and the level of challenge.  Not challenged enough, you’re bored; out of your depth, and you’re stressed out.  The interesting thing is that your competence grows the fastest when you operate at the edge of your ability.  In other words, the flow channel is not flat; it changes, always requiring us to find our new edge.  Csikszentmihályi’s research shows that an individual’s capacity to overcome challenges in order to achieve goals not only leads to optimal experience, but also to a sense of life satisfaction.

Mihály Csikszentmihályi’s research changed my life.  I have surfed the edge of the flow channel for years.  When I get too big for my britches, I dial it back and reduce the anxiety, but I always play the edge.

“The zone” is where I live.

 

Creative Thinking: Associative Elements

CREATIVITY AND THE HIPPO. Started the creative thinking course this morning, which is taught by Peter Childs, the head of Design Engineering at the Imperial College of London. The first assignment was to chose a quote that describes creativity and explain why. I used the Hippo Roller invention as an example.

I worked in Africa during a protracted drought. The wells dried up. Women were walking long distances, sometimes as much as six hours round trip, to wells that were still functioning. They were taking their older children out of school to help. The women carried water on their heads.

The Hippo Water Roller is a invention that shows how its South African inventors, Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker, reconfigured the elements associated with carrying water to produce an out-of-the-box water carrier.

Mednick writes that “Creativity is the forming of associative elements into new combinations. Taking time to figure out the components of a problem helps us figure out what the solution should look like.

The first “associative element” of the problem the Hippo addresses is how much water a family needs. To give an idea of how much water someone uses for drinking, washing, and cooking, the municipal government in Capetown, Africa, set a usage limit of 13 gallons a day per person. (North Americans use much more, as much as 101 gallons per day per person according to some estimates.)

The second associative element is the physical act of transporting the water. Each gallon of water weighs eight pounds. Carrying water is back-breaking work requiring strength and stamina.

The third associative element is cost and durability. Where I worked in Africa, the median household income was $450 per year. The solution had to be cheap and last.

Another element includes ease of cleaning. Contaminated water make people sick.

The inventors have done a brilliant job of reconfiguring associative elements to solve the problem. The Hippo rolls the water container on the ground instead of being carried on the head. This makes it easier and much less strenuous, increasing the number of people in the family who can assist in transporting water.

The Hippo holds up to 24 gallons – five times more water than traditional containers. It is made from low-density polyethylene and is rugged enough to cope with the rough surfaces found in rural areas in Africa. It has a large opening for easy filling and cleaning, doubles as a water storage container, and costs $125. Families pay 10% ($12.50), NGOs pay the rest.

According to the United Nations, 2.1 billion people live without access to safe water in their homes. These statistics do not reflect the reality on the ground, such as the time people spend transporting water. The Hippo is a simple and creative solution that immediately improves that lives of users, unlike many projects in developing countries that require extensive time and money before results are seen. Easier access to water improves hygiene, which reduces illness and – just as important – improves personal dignity.

 

Creative Thinking

Started the creative thinking course this morning, which is taught by Peter Childs, the head of Design Engineering at the Imperial College of London. The first assignment was to chose a quote that describes creativity and explain why.

I chose extracts of two quotes. The first is “Creativity is the forming of associative elements into new combinations…”(Mednick). The second quote is “Creativity denotes a person’s capacity to produce new or original ideas, insights, inventions, or artistic products…” (Vernon)

I used the Hippo Roller invention as an example.

 
I worked in Africa during a protracted drought. The wells dried up. Women were walking long distances, sometimes as much as six hours round trip, to wells that were still functioning. They were taking their older children out of school to help. The women carried water on their heads.
 
The Hippo Water Roller is a invention that shows how its South African inventors, Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker, reconfigured the elements associated with carrying water to produce an out-of-the-box water carrier.
 
The first “associative element” is how much water a family needs. To give an idea of how much water someone uses for drinking, washing, and cooking, the municipal government in Capetown, Africa, set a usage limit of 13 gallons a day per person. (North Americans use much more, as much as 101 gallons per day per person according to some estimates.)
 
The second associative element is the physical act of transporting the water. Each gallon of water weighs eight pounds. Carrying water is back-breaking work requiring strength and stamina.
 

The third associative element is cost and durability. Where I worked in Africa, the median household income was $450 per year. The solution had to be cheap and last.

Another element includes ease of cleaning.  Contaminated water make people sick.

 
The inventors have done a brilliant job of reconfiguring associative elements to solve the problem. The Hippo rolls the water container on the ground instead of being carried on the head.  This makes it easier and much less strenuous, increasing the number of people in the family who can assist in transporting water.
 
The Hippo holds up to 24 gallons – five times more water than traditional containers. It is made from low-density polyethylene and is rugged enough to cope with the rough surfaces found in rural areas in Africa. It has a large opening for easy filling and cleaning, doubles as a water storage container, and it costs $125.  Families pay 10% ($12.50), NGOs pay the rest.
 
According to the United Nations, 2.1 billion people live without access to safe water in their homes. These statistics do not reflect the reality on the ground, such as the time people spend transporting water. The Hippo is a simple and creative solution that immediately improves that lives of users, unlike many projects in developing countries that require extensive time and money before results are seen.  Easier access to water improves hygiene, which reduces illness and – just as important – improves personal dignity.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fBAsesb4N0&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0mLFWqBK0BZ_zkDl8jKNr2NVONnEB0jZ0jdlzMHFo9LARDeaA9-_Gj3s4

Love and Mismatched Socks

 

mismatched socks

I am always looking for ways to save time, so during boot season I don’t sort socks; I just pull two out and put them on because nobody sees them anyway. I used to have a boyfriend who got irritated by my mismatched socks. One day I came home and found that he had gone into my sock drawer and matched them up for me.

It was very touching.

I started to wear matched socks to make him happy. (All relationships require compromise.) Then, one day, he told me that my socks were supposed to match my outfit.

It was a fashion epiphany.  He showed me my sock drawer, which was now sorted by color.

Since I am always looking for ways to save time, I got rid of my boyfriend.