TOP 10 ways to develop non-standard and extraordinary thinking

Think like everyone else or think differently?

Our whole life is a continuous choice. We choose whether to get up at dawn or sleep longer, drink tea or coffee, walk or take a bus, buy or not buy, study or get married...

We make simple choices without straining ourselves. We agonize over difficult things, sometimes calling on friends for help. Our destiny depends on the choices we make. Like in a fairy tale: if you go to the right - ?.. If you go to the left - ?.. If you go straight - you won’t collect any bones.

Fearing making a mistake, a person faced with a choice usually follows the majority. After all, there is an opinion that the majority is not mistaken. However, the German philosopher Hegel said: “When everyone thinks the same, then no one thinks especially.”

To think like everyone else means to think standardly, in accordance with stereotypes. An example of stereotypical thinking: you definitely need to get a higher education, because people without a diploma are losers. Or: if a girl is beautiful, then she is stupid. Or: a successful person must have a car of a prestigious brand.

Do we think so ourselves or are we supposed to think so? Most people try to keep up with others, and if they do not conform to stereotypes, their self-esteem decreases. Stereotypes drive people into boundaries, limiting their ability to think, analyze and draw conclusions on their own.

It is easier for people to think in stereotypes, figuratively speaking, to ride on well-trodden rails - this will be standard thinking. Non-standard thinking can be compared to an arrow that moves the train to another path.

In our educational institutions they give knowledge, but do not teach them how to think, because people who think in a standard way, like everyone else, are easier to manage. (By the way, most of those who answer the request to name a Russian poet, poultry, fruit and part of a face name Pushkin, a chicken, an apple and a nose. Their answers are not original. How many will be able to answer the question: what comes first - the seed or the tree? Of course “It’s a seed,” the majority will say. But where will the seed come from if there is no tree?)

Knowledge can be called the raw material for decision making, but without the inability to think outside the box, it will be of little use. French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said that “to see clearly, sometimes it is enough to look from a different point of view.” To think differently than everyone else means to think outside the box, to be the master of your own destiny.

What it is

In psychology, lateral thinking is also called lateral or creative thinking. This is a type of cognitive process close to a sense of humor and intuition. It involves going beyond the logical perception of the world in order to solve the problem. This type of brain activity is opposed to vertical thinking, in which a person uses a standard approach to solving certain problems. Non-standard intellectual activity has the greatest significance in creativity: painting, literature, music playing and even marketing.

Examples of out-of-the-box thinking:

  1. It is necessary to remove a small wooden beam from a vessel with a narrow neck and a deep bottom, without turning it over. The standard approach to solving the problem forces a person to look for a long object to retrieve. A creative approach involves filling a vessel with water.
  2. The teacher needs to test the students' knowledge after studying a topic. In most cases, teachers use surveys and tests. If you use a creative approach, you can get students to test each other's knowledge on their own.

Studying at school, college or university allows a person to adapt his intellectual activity to perform certain tasks. Templates are created in the mind that allow you to quickly cope with everyday and professional difficulties. At the same time, the originality characteristic of the child gradually disappears. Psychologists know that it is for this reason that many adults fail to cope with children's tasks. The lack of developed extraordinary intelligence can significantly limit the scope of human activity. At the same time, there are special techniques that develop this quality.

Quality work

Super-successful companies have a different approach to corporate culture. For example, consider the fashion store Zappos. It offers employee benefits such as free meals, free wellness services and even on-site shoe shine.

On the one hand, it would be easy to dismiss these things as a waste of money and a threat to the company's bottom line. However, they use long-term vision. They see that by offering these benefits and perks, they attract and retain the best employees. Happy and healthy employees tend to be more productive, loyal and hardworking.

By thinking outside the box with their company culture, they end up with a higher level of employees and quality of work, making it well worth the cost they spend on it.

Types of thinking

Thinking is a cognitive process, which is a subjective reflection of reality, which allows a person to analyze changes in the world around him and make complex decisions. Thought processes are flexible and adaptable, but there are inherent and learned cognitive limitations. It is important to understand that the brain primarily serves to satisfy physiological needs.

Main types of mental activity:

  • Subject-effective

Characterized by maximum focus on practical use. A person uses objective-action thinking to solve specific problems, such as performing professional duties or overcoming everyday difficulties. Best developed in adults.

  • Visually effective

Conscious processes are needed not only for transforming the surrounding world. People can also learn the properties of objects through observation. This type of thought process helps you learn more about the world around you.

  • Figurative

Inextricably linked with the synthesis of available information. A variety of images associated with objects and their properties are formed in the brain. Read more…

  • Abstract

Helps people connect objects and concepts into a single system. At the same time, abstract thinking can be used without reference to practical activities. Allows you to solve logical problems. Read more…

  • Empirical

As impressions about the world around us accumulate, consciousness receives information in the form of experience. Experience allows you to solve simple problems. It should not be confused with the objective perception of the world.

Lateral thinking is most associated with abstract cognitive processes.

The other side of the coin

Excessive self-confidence also harms everything new and original. A bad boss is one who does not know how to admit the fact that the idea expressed by his subordinate is much better than his own.

The same can be said about being “fixated” on a certain course of action. Sometimes it is useful to take a path that has not been taken before. This does not mean that you need to indiscriminately accept everything new, but it is also unwise to reject unusual ideas out of hand.

Thus, in one foreign company, job applicants were asked to comment on the following statements: “All prisons need to be closed,” “The retirement age needs to be raised to eighty years.” Applicants who immediately rejected the possibility of implementing these plans were denied employment.

Is creativity good or bad?

Thought processes have a variety of applications in everyday life. This is the satisfaction of natural needs, interaction with people, performance of professional duties and adaptation to the changing conditions of the surrounding world. In each case, a person may require a certain type of thinking to achieve better results. The predominance of one type of intellectual activity has its pros and cons.

Having a distinctly non-standard approach is best suited for representatives of creative professions. Creative search requires getting rid of persistent stereotypes. A person needs a rich imagination, free from obsessive images and conclusions. At the same time, such a personality trait may be less useful in the exact and technical sciences, when the mind is required to obey clear principles. It is important to understand that complete dominance of one type of intellectual activity over others is rare.

Thinking and the brain

Types of cognitive processes are inextricably linked with brain activity. The organic substrate of consciousness determines the limits of human consciousness. The brain itself is the main organ of the central nervous system, responsible for the general regulation of the body and consciousness. The latter function is due to the work of a small part of the brain called the cerebral cortex. This is a dense accumulation of cells (neurons) connected to each other by long and short processes. The processes that form nerves allow information to be transmitted in the form of impulses. The spread of impulses to different parts of the brain determines the basis of the thought process.

Scientists already know what features of the brain are responsible for standard and non-standard thinking. The fact is that as knowledge and experience accumulate, the central nervous system creates stable connections between neurons. These connections are used later as templates for solving certain problems. At the same time, the brain can create new associative connections during intellectual activity. The formation of new connections is believed to be directly related to lateral thought processes. A child's brain often creates new associative chains, but as they grow older, this ability usually declines. You can develop innovative thinking at any age.

Study history and concept

British psychologist Edward de Bono made a great contribution to the study of mental processes. In 1967, the scientist published a large article on types of thinking. According to the concept of Edward de Bono, a person has vertical and lateral thinking.

The vertical form of thought involves the use of already existing ideas, that is, cognitive activity of this type is associated with the use of certain patterns. People accumulate patterns and implement complex forms of vertical thinking throughout their lives, but the principle remains unchanged.

In contrast, lateral thinking aims to create new strategies that ignore existing patterns. The main goal of such a process is to consider the problem from all possible sides.

The scientist believed that to improve creativity, two incentives are needed - “escape” and “provocation.” The essence of the first stimulus is the deliberate ignoring of already existing models for solving the problem. Typically, people are not inclined to take this approach, and those who still avoid standard solutions are asked not to reinvent the wheel. However, escaping patterns helps you find more options for completing a given task. The second principle, called provocation, is the suspension of judgment. With a creative approach, it is necessary to refrain from premature conclusions that complicate the further search for solutions. De Bono also emphasized the importance of positive emotions in creativity.

Methods and principles of thinking

You can learn to think outside the box with the help of special exercises and techniques, but first you need to understand the principles of this very mental activity. There are various approaches that allow you to consider a certain problem from all sides and make the least clichéd solution.

General principles:

  1. Choosing the main focus. It is necessary to decide in advance what idea should form the basis of further intellectual search. For example, this may be the need to find a way to remove an object from a narrow container. The main focus is the starting point of creativity.
  2. Refusal of stereotypes. You should immediately abstract from the logical reasoning that appears during the search for a solution. You should not be afraid of the appearance of absurd thoughts and images, since the main goal is to find the least obvious way to solve the problem.
  3. Application of the found non-standard approach using rationalization. To do this, oddly enough, logic is used, which makes it possible to associate a specific strategy with given conditions.

Before using these techniques, psychologists recommend taking a test for lateral thinking. There are various surveys that allow you to assess the level of its development. Tests help monitor the effectiveness of skill development.

Overcome the psychological barrier

It is known that people who think outside the box most often do not like the phrases “that’s not how it’s done,” “everyone does it this way,” and the like.

Acting and thinking outside the box is their way of life. Anyone who wants to develop the ability to come up with original ideas should do the same.

Another barrier standing on the way to this skill is such complexes as self-doubt and low self-esteem. “I won’t succeed” or “no one has done this before” - these expressions are the worst enemies of progress.

Six creative approaches

Often, a brainstorming technique is used to complete a specific task, during which a group of people propose and reject certain ideas. However, this method is often insufficiently effective due to the rapid rejection of proposals. Brainstorming participants simply do not have time to analyze this or that strategy, since their consciousness evaluates the significance of the proposed solution method by selecting familiar stereotypes. As an alternative, psychologists suggest using the six stages or principles of lateral intelligence.

Six stages:

  1. Collect specific information about the problem at hand, including specified conditions. It is necessary to determine what information is missing to find a strategy.
  2. Using emotional resources. You should ignore logic and trust your intuition. Abstract images and associations are used.
  3. Creative search is the main stage during which it is necessary to offer the least clichéd possible strategies for solving a problem.
  4. Criticism. Constructive criticism of each proposed strategy is necessary. It is important to use arguments.
  5. Optimistic view. You need to find the pros of each proposed strategy.
  6. Organizational stage. A scrupulous integration of the proposed methods for completing the task is carried out.

The listed principles can be applied when searching for solutions independently and in groups.

Everybody wants to be special

Throughout our lives, we notice around us those who stand out from the crowd.
“Upstarts” and “imaginers” were the labels we awarded as children to those who were not afraid to express themselves and express their opinions. “White crow”, “informal” - they talked about such people in their youth. In adulthood, we look at such people with admiration, interest, and sometimes even envy. They are the first to express brilliant ideas at brainstorming sessions, deftly solve problems that dozens of minds struggle with in vain, and simple truths that can bring about revolutions come to their minds. Creative people are successful in everything: they write, draw, sing, create, achieve success in business and attract the interest of others.

What distinguishes them from the majority, why exactly are they able to generate unique ideas, and what can each of us do to reveal such abilities in ourselves? First, let's figure out what character traits distinguish creative people and what personality traits allow them to successfully apply their creativity in practice.

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