Many people believe the way they think is the only way they can think. In other words, their mind provides them with not just what they are thinking, but the way they think.
Now, stop and think about that (pun intended). We all know the old saying, "There is more than one way to skin a cat," Well, there is also more than one way to think. The mind is literally a story machine and the stories it tells us are based on the information we have in our mental program. What we think and how we think about what we think are not necessarily wedded, or identical.
Information is Programming
During our life we take aboard a lot of information—something I think of as potential programming. This programming is very strong, especially when negative. It's somewhat akin to first impressions in that, once we have a negative impression of someone, they must work hard to change that impression before we will trust them.
Most of us, if not all, have negative impressions of ourselves. During our life we all have encountered rejection of some sort, failure of some kind, and we've failed to live up to the image of our ideal self. Most of us would also like to change many things about ourselves thereby creating a self-image that is not only more positive but more powerful in terms of maximizing our potential. In other words, instead of doubting our abilities we would like our inner voice to enthusiastically champion our engagement of change.
Methods of Thinking
So, back to methods of thinking for a moment. There are six methods of thinking commonly differentiated as: Critical thinking, convergent thinking, divergent thinking, abstraction, brain storming, inductive reasoning, logical reasoning, and lateral thinking. So, let's look at these methods:
- Critical thinking is essentially the evaluation of and analysis of available facts.1
- Convergent thinking generally means the ability to give the 'correct' answer to standard questions that do not require significant creativity.2
- Divergent thinking contrasted to convergent thinking is deployed for purposes of creative ideas and tends to be non-linear and spontaneously emergent.3
- Abstraction is a conceptual process based on existing facts or ideas. Brain storming is used to generate as many possible ideas of solutions as can be thought of.4
- Inductive reasoning is used to consider the implications of general ideas. This is also called bottom-up reasoning because one proceeds from general information to drawing specific conclusions.5
- Logical thinking is the straight forward application of logic to consider the validity of ideas typically based on testing premises through to conclusions. This requires objective reasoning.6
- Lateral thinking entails solving problems via a creative approach. "It deliberately forgoes obvious approaches in favor of oblique or unexpected ones. Deliberately ignoring perfectly good but straightforward solutions enables us to find hidden innovations we would otherwise miss."7
The Objective of Self-Empowerment
Now when you consider the different ways to think, to approach a problem or idea, and you measure the method against the objective of self-empowerment, which of these methods do you choose to obtain change in your life?
The fact is, we can and should choose all. We can be critical of our weaknesses and failures without punishing ourselves but rather objectively evaluating the possible reasoning behind our perceived weaknesses. We can be creative in our thinking and explore options and possibilities designed to correct those so-called weaknesses. We can abstract from where we are to where we want to be and visualize the goal and the number of steps necessary to meet that goal. We can brainstorm possibilities for what we want and how we can accomplish that. We can even change the way we talk to ourselves, correcting thoughts that might undermine our goals, thereby producing the correct answer from within based on our ambitions.
In other words, using thinking tools, we can re-engineer our lives to live the life we desire instead of the one many have come to accept as just their plight in life.
Becoming the best version of ourselves is not easy. Some will tell you that it is. They might tell you something like, read this book and life will be better. Join this workshop and your problems will dissolve. The sad fact is this simply is not true. Regardless of the tools we use, real lasting change takes commitment and is not something that happens overnight. At Progressive Awareness, we encourage you to be the best version of yourself. To reach higher regardless of where you are in life. Indeed, one of my favorite sayings is simply: How high is up?
Be your best and thanks for the read,
- University of Louisville. "What is Critical Thinking?"
- Matyas, K. 2022. "Convergent vs. Divergent Thinking: How to Use Both to Think Smarter." Maestro. November 17, 2022
- Merriam-Webster. "Abstraction."
- Bhandari, P. 2022. "Inductive Reasoning | Types, Examples, Explanation." Scribbr. January 12, 2022.
- Great Learning Team. 2022. "What is Logical Thinking?" Great Learning. October 20, 2022.
- Davis, M. 2022. "The Most Undervalued Problem-Solving Tool? Lateral Thinking." Big Think. October 10, 2022.