Unconventional thinking.

Lately I’ve been reading a biography of Otto Von Bismarck. I’m not going to review the book nor will I write a blog post about Bismarck himself. But near the end of the book there’s a quote which I’m going to paraphrase. An acquaintance of his wanted to beat his dog for barking too much. Bismarck pointed out to his friend that the dog may have thought that the beating was because it wasn’t barking enough. This ties in with the idea I expressed recently about not knowing what’s in each other’s minds. It also expresses the notion of unconventional thinking. We get stuck in ways in which we think about things that we lose out on better solutions. It’s hard to think creatively. I’m just as guilty as anybody else a lot of the time. But it’s a trait that we all need to exercise somehow.

Here’s a case in point of how even a simple and obvious answer shocks people merely because they can’t arrive to the conclusion with their conventional ways of thinking. Hold out your hand in front of you palm down. You don’t need to have your arm completely outstretched for this; relaxing your shoulder and letting your upper arm droop is fine. Ask a friend of yours to do the same and ask them to try to get their palm facing upwards but without turning their wrist. I guarantee that most people you ask (unless they’re of the millions that read this blog) won’t be able to figure it out. The answer involves a series of pivots at the elbow in forty-five degree angles:

I don’t know why my web cam has such a problem with perspective. I assure you my forearm really isn’t that gargantuan when outstretched. What strikes me as fascinating is that even though I show this to people they still tend to not get it.

For once I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this. I recognize the need for unconventional thinking, but how do I go about it? I’ve come up with some ideas that I’ve expressed on this blog before, such as meditation and writing the first thing that comes to mind when I get up. Both of which, by the way, I’m not doing so well keeping up with. While I do want to revisit those practices, are they on the right path that I’m getting at here? If I need some extra help with this, where do I go? Should I do drugs? Are there books I should read? Or, on the other hand, should I avoid all contact with the outside world?

I get the feeling that there’s no one answer to this. Nor do I think any one person has a complete answer. I would very much like to get as much feedback as possible to this post. I know I haven’t had good luck getting feedback when asking for it in the past. That’s not to say that I haven’t at all, and I thank those that have taken the time to get in touch with me. Of course I know I can’t demand help with this or even expect any. But I get the feeling that if people step forward, and in time I collect these ideas into a future blog post (or perhaps more than one) we might be able to progress in the way we think.

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