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One of the participants in our WordMagic WordShoppe yesterday introduced us to the Japanese term, Moai[1] (pronounced ‘moe-eye’). I looked it up and learned that it means ‘meeting for a common purpose,’ which is a tradition in Okinawa that is believed to contribute to the longevity of the people there. It is more fully defined as ––

  • ‘a group of lifelong friends,’ and
  • ‘a social group that forms in order to provide varying support from social, financial, health, or spiritual interests.

This led me to remember one of my favorite obscure English words, which signifies –– by the joining of its three short syllables –– one of my favorite activities. The definition varies according to who wrote the dictionaries. But this is the first and favorite one I found (from a source I don’t recall):

Synectics: A theory or system of problem-stating and problem-solution based on creative thinking that involves free use of metaphor and analogy in informal interchange within a carefully selected small group of individuals of diverse personality and areas of specialization.”

I am in awe that so much meaningful content can be packed into a single word, which was evidently coined from the Greek in the early 1960’s. Most of all, however, I appreciate how synectics indicates the value we derive by sharing our varying perspectives with a select and varied group of freethinkers –– in order to expand our pin-point-of-view into a wider spectrum of perception. How else can we possibly find solutions to our seemingly insoluble problems?

Communing with a supportive community can also be catalytic to our finding the boldness we require to share our insights with a wider world. So many of us have allowed ourselves to succumb to the nonsensical mind chatter that undermines our trust in our own inner promptings. Thus, we hesitate to share the sparks of divine genius that ignite us from time to time in precisely the ways we were designed to birth more wisdom into the world.

Clearly, we need each other to help develop new solutions –– and to step forward to implement them on behalf of our collective wellbeing. That’s why I so appreciate thought leaders like Dr. Bruce Lipton who recognize that the joining of our hearts and minds in support of our ‘common-wealth’ is the next stage in our species’ evolution. And just as moai[2] supports longevity in Okinawa, so practicing synectics can contribute to humanity’s longevity.




[1] Moai is also the term for the gigantic human figures carved on Rapa Nui (or Eastern Island) by the Polynesian islanders who lived there between the 13th-16th Century.

[2] In researching moia for this article, I found that it is actually one of three keys that the Japanese advocate as necessary for our health and happiness. The other two are ikigai and hara hachi bu. The first of these recognizes the importance of discovering our reason for being –– and the joy we experience when we strive to fulfill it. The second relates to healthy ways to eat and enjoy our food –– free of distractions –– which can reduce consumption and thereby contribute to our good health and happiness.

Laurel Airica

My abiding fascination with the English language has enabled me to develop great skill in using it to express ideas that make a positive difference in people’s lives.