2019.08.26 Creativity, Innovation, Part 5

Should you like your child - or yourself - to become a happy creative person, read on.

Do you understand the difference between laughing with somebody vs laughing at them? Can you laugh at yourself so people can laugh with you?

How did you learn that the world doesn't end when somebody laughs because of your unintended gaffe?

According to child psychologists, you shouldn't post your toddler's tantrums on Instagram. The tantrum shows that the child, at least for the moment, thinks there is nothing remotely funny about the situation.

You may find the situation hilarious because you know much more than a toddler - including why the event that throws them into a meltdown is not worth a meltdown. But the child doesn't know that yet. They are toddlers!!

Since they don't understand what is funny, you are laughing at them, not with them.

Sooner or later our kids must learn how to laugh at themselves. You can teach them in a kind way or be sure that the world will teach them the hard way; learn they must. Preferably from somebody who loves them unconditionally - that means also loving them when they make mistakes.

I have before mentioned how a safe environment is needed to come up with good ideas.

Then I read a salute to bad ideas (in Danish).

The article suggests starting a brainstorming session with asking people to come up with really, really outrageous solutions to a problem. This will free people from the perceived need to think within the usual box.

Each person is to suggest at least a handful crazy ideas. Because we all agree that they should be crazy, laughing ensues - with nobody being embarrassed about having come up with something ridiculous. You would possibly be more embarrassed if nobody laughed at you.

Then we build on each other's silly ideas.

Suddenly the tone in the room becomes the "Yes, and..."-kind of communication where people reinforce each other rather than try to take each other down. And that is the tone needed for staying creative in a group: that nobody belittles your ideas.

So if you want your child to grow up to become a creative person, let loose the goofiness. Modeling how to laugh at yourself seems a good way to start.

Potential side effect: They may become happier along the way. Being less concerned about what other people think about you seems to be good for both happiness and creativity according to a.o. the actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

That also means being less concerned about how many likes and shares your pictures get on Instagram or how many followers you have on Twitter. (And remember, people can "like" your tantrum post while they still think you behaved like a heartless idiot by putting it out there.)

You don't have to take the correlation between happiness and less concern about what people think about you from the small sample of one Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The Danes, the people most content with their lives, are also the people least afraid to lose face.

It makes sense that they would start a brainstorm with a laugh.