Oprah has made a minor franchise out of what she calls an “Aha Moment.” In Oprah’s world, they’re the “unforgettable, connect-the-dots moments, when everything suddenly, somehow changed.”
If the phrase sounds like a cliché, that’s because it is. Oprah cribbed it from the German psychiatrist Karl Bühler, who actually coined the term 100 years ago. Oh!
Here are *real* Aha! Moments — from Ramana Maharshi to Byron Katie — that blow Oprah off the screen.
To Karl Bühler an Aha experience was “a peculiar, pleasure-oriented experience within the course of thought that pops up with the sudden insight into a previously intransparent context.”
A half century later, Abraham Maslow, the father of humanistic psychology, refined the idea with his definition of a Compare our examples to what passes for an Aha! Moment in Oprah’s magazine:
Donald Trump wanting to hit on his 3rd wife when they first met because she “she had an aristocratic, reserved air without being at all haughty.” The Donald’s apparent realization was “that even after you’ve done a lot of living, you can still be amazed by what can turn up in life.”
Despite my sudden shyness, I managed to give Melania every single one of my phone numbers. She seemed suspicious, which made me realize she was not only an incredible-looking woman but an intelligent one as well. She questioned me about each phone number: Business or personal? Limousine or bodyguard? I could tell she knew her stuff. I could also surmise that she knew who I was, and I remember deciding, Well, depending on her sources, that could work either for me or against me.
Or here’s Hillary Clinton claiming that it was a little girl’s voice (as opposed to, say, a hard-wired, life-long ambition) that convinced her to run for the U.S. Senate in 2000
It was an incredibly difficult decision, and I needed a push. Fortunately, I got one. In March of that year, I went to New York City to join Billie Jean King at an event . . . We gathered at a local school, joined by dozens of young women athletes, all of us assembled on a stage beneath a giant banner that read dare to compete, the title of the film. A young woman named Sofia Totti, the captain of the girls’ basketball team at the school, introduced me.
And then something unexpected happened. As I approached the microphone to say a few words about the importance of giving girls every opportunity to grow and reach their potential, Sofia grabbed my hand and whispered in my ear: “Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton,” she said. “Dare to compete.”
This is what stand-up comedians would call “great material.” They make jokes about whispering girls and Clintons. But we won’t
NEXT: Aha Moment: Byron Katie, 1986