Much of what we all ‘thinking’ in our day to day lives, is not really thinking at all, in the sense that it is something we actively instigate. That is, it is not an activity we engage in very often.
Sure, we ‘think’ all the time, but what passes for thinking is a largely passive process of noticing what passes through our minds, and then reacting – or not – to our observations.
Real Thinking involves effort, daring and honesty (with ourselves), and probably several other qualities. Like any skill, it can be developed, and it also needs practice to keep it healthy.
Learning to think more effectively means being able to step over the mental fences we’ve erected, so that we can look back into the self-imposed confines and constraints of our thinking habits, from another place (I guess this is what is meant by ‘thinking outside the box’, but that’s a whole other story).
To do this we need to train the mind to behave in a different way, one which allows us to take new perspectives. One step towards this is to look out for things you know for sure, fixed opinions and certainties, and above all the things you ‘know’ that are ‘not so’ or ‘not possible’.
Choose an example and practice asking yourself “What if…?”, particularly with things you don’t generally give much though to, because you know ‘how things are’. Remember, this is about thinking and re-training the mind; you don’t actually have to do anything as a result of your deliberations, just allow yourself the freedom to explore from new angles.
If this all sounds a bit bizarre, silly or threatening, well, it would do, wouldn’t it?