According to conventional wisdom, people tend to have a personality, thinking style, or way of doing things that are either left-brained or right-brained. Those who are right-brained are supposed to be intuitive and creative free thinkers, they experience the world in a descriptive and subjective way. Meanwhile, left-brained people tend to be more analytical and methodical; they pay attention to details and are ruled by logic.
People are happy to label themselves this or that. I am not a scientist, but the way I see it (in my non-scientific mind) is that we all have one brain with two sides to it (left and right side), so why not use both in a balanced kind of way, instead of letting one side dominate us. Left-Brain v Right-Brain. It doesn’t really matter. What matters more is that you learn to be flexible in your thinking.
Being flexible in your thinking will help you navigate life’s hurdles with more ease.
Richard Templar explains in Rule 7 of his book The Rules of Life the importance of being flexible in your thinking. Once you think you have all the answers, you might as well hang up your boots. Once your thinking gets crystallized, rigid, formed, you’ve lost the battle. Once you get set in your ways, you’re already part of history. To get the most out of life, you have to keep all your options open, keep your thinking and life flexible. You have to be ready to roll as the storm breaks.
Flexible thinking is like martial arts — being ready to duck and weave, dodge and flow, and launch counterattacks, preferably when the opponent least expects it, i.e., when they have their guards down. Try to see life as a friendly sparring partner. If you are flexible, you’ll have fun. If you stay straight and rigid in your approach you are likely to be knocked down.
Life can be unpredictable and being able to go with the flow and be flexible in your thinking is a necessary skill for dealing with life’s inevitable changes and will help you adjust more easily to new circumstances, challenges, and situations as they arise.
We all have set patterns in life. We like to label ourselves as this or that and are quite proud of our opinions and beliefs. We all like to read a set of newspaper, watch the same sort of TV programs or movies, go to the same sort of shops, eat the sort of food that suits us, wear the same type of clothes and all this is fine. But if we cut ourselves off from all other possibilities, we become rigid, hardened, and most of all boring.
You have to see life as a series of adventures. Each adventure is a chance to have fun, learn something, explore the world, expand your circle of experience and friends, and broaden your horizons. Shutting down to adventure means exactly that — you are shut down.
The second you are offered an opportunity to have an adventure, to change your thinking, to step outside of yourself, go for it and see what happens. If this thought scares you, remember that you can always go back into your shell anytime, if that is what you want to do. You don’t have to say yes to every opportunity that presents itself to you, because that would be inflexible. The very flexible thinkers know when to say no as well as when to say yes.
Being flexible in your thinking will help you escape the mental prison you have built yourself.
Mental rigidity turns us into prisoners, decreases our adaptability, creativity, spontaneity, and positivity. We remain tied to old patterns that keep us from growing intellectually and emotionally. Close-minded, people are those who refuse to contemplate another point of view, they reject other people’s approaches, ideas or perspectives, and feel very content being enclosed in their own ideas, safe within the fortress they have built around them. Those same people also tend to be stubborn, argumentative, get upset when things don’t get their way, are uncooperative, or have conditions such as obsessive-compulsive tendencies.
We can’t grow either on an intellectual or emotional level, if we don’t realize that what we knew could be wrong, or at least insufficient. Being wrong becomes then a kind of liberation, while mental rigidity and the desire to be right only hide the fear of what would happen if we dared to admit our mistakes and go beyond.
The person, who develops a very rigid way of thinking, is somehow protecting themselves. In fact, in many cases, realizing that something you have blindly believed for years isn’t true, or at least not completely true, can be extremely painful and give way to an existential crisis.
The most important premise to get rid of mental rigidity consists in avoid seeking absolute truth, simply because it doesn’t exist. You just have to switch on the news to realize that the same event can be interpreted in very different ways depending on the optics. Every time we assume an absolute truth, we stay blind to any other possibilities. There isn’t just one truth, one way of resolving a problem, there are numerous ways. So be flexible in your thinking, keep an open mind.
And this, my dear friend, is your Quest.