Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life by Robin Trimingham
I have long believed that whenever someone tells you that “they have no choice” what they are really telling you that they just don’t like any of their choices.
Simple physics teaches us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and so is the case with decision making. In every situation, there is always the choice between acting and “not acting” meaning that, even in the most dire circumstances, there are always at least two choices; and in almost all cases there are more than two.
The challenge, however, is to look beyond the obvious when you are under stress to come up with these alternatives; assess them calmly and choose the wisest course of action given the desired outcome. This looking beyond the obvious is what Edward De Bono has referred to as “lateral thinking”.
The basic premise is that when confronted with a problem, we all turn to our bank of prior learning to come up with a solution, or we employ basic trial and error. This is fine when the solution falls within the scope of our personal knowledge base or we get lucky with trial and error, but leaves without any idea how to start when we are confronted with a problem that is completely outside the bounds of our previous personal experience.
Essentially, we will keep trying to screw a square peg into a round hole on the basis that if we turn the screwdriver enough times to the right, the peg will eventually enter the whole because “we know” that pegs always enter holes in a clockwise direction. When this doesn’t work, we tend to either try brute force, or give up in frustration.
Coming back to reconsider the problem later, most us will give the “trial and error” thing a go and start rooting about for a different sized screw. When this fails to yield the desired outcome, it is only as a last resort that most of us consider breaking the rules entirely by employing our advanced problem solving mechanism, commonly referred to as creativity.
Once we push through this self-imposed glass ceiling, however, things really start to cook and possible solutions abound. We envisage shaving down the square peg until it fits the existing hole, or better yet, filling in the hole entirely with wood glue and then re-drilling it to fit a sturdy round screw that we have just discovered while rooting about in the cellar.
“But that’s cheating!” you protest.
No, that is reaching a desired outcome in a way that is personally satisfying, durable and provides peace of mind.
And that, is the key to handling new problems that arise as you age because situations will arise during your third journey that are outside the bounds of your personal experience. The more you challenge yourself to look at the situation differently, the more likely it is that you will come up with a way to solve the problem in a way that sustains and enriches the life you are creating for yourself.
By Robin Trimingham