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The Most Valuable Skill In Difficult Times Is Lateral Thinking—Here’s How To Do It

Consider the incorrect answer

To challenge traditional thinking, ask, "what's the one thing we absolutely should not do in this situation?" and then consider it as an advisable course of action.

When innovating, it can be easier to go way out and wind back than to try solving problems by repeatedly starting from a conservative point.

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The psychology behind money
The psychology behind money

Money is not a fixed entity. It is a complex of data points, challenges, and opportunities you encounter and have feelings about. Your decisions about money affect your emotions and behavio...

Emotion and money

The most important emotions about money to become aware of are fear, guilt, and shame. Without awareness, these emotions will interfere with your rational thinking.

  • Common fears include fear of having too little money, fear of looking foolish, fear of causing envy.
  • Guilt is about feeling bad about a negative impact you've had on others. You may feel guilty because you have more than your friends, or are not charitable.
  • Shame is feeling troubled when you don't live up to your own values. Shame related to money involves feelings of not having enough money, avoiding thinking about finances, avoiding doing what you're supposed to do with your finances, feeling ignorant, and overspending.

Other emotions that influence your handling of money include envy, greed, and over-excitement.

How mental health influences your finances

Mental health problems can have a significant effect on your finances.

  • Excessive use of alcohol leads to poor judgment and inattentiveness to finances.
  • Depression can cause a loss of employment. People with depression also lack energy and a sense of purpose.
  • People with a mild expression of bipolar disorder can experience states with increased energy, decreased inhibitions, exciting plans, and are overstimulated to spend.
  • Adults with ADHD/ADD have the ability to pay intense attention to tasks that really interest them while screening out the tedious or mundane.
Traditional vs Lateral Thinking
  • Traditional thinking: is vertical and the process flows in a logical manner toward a conclusion, based on available information.
  • Lateral thinking: is horizontal and the p...
2 Stages of Thinking
  1. The perceived stage, where the brain focuses on identifying a certain pattern (a way in which the brain frames the environment).
  2. The second stage uses that pattern and builds upon it to reach a conclusion. 

But to get better at identifying patterns and prevent errors in the first stage, we need to develop our lateral thinking.

Learning to Think Laterally
  • Be aware of how your brain processes information and how it identifies patterns.
  • Don't shut out all the outside stimuli and allow some form of randomness into your day. This could expose you to new insights.
  • Consider alternative approaches and solutions to problems, even if you think you found the apparently suitable one.
  • Deliberately alternate available options (do the opposite of an implied direction, reverse processes, etc.) This could expose you to new insights and tools to create solutions with.
Bruce Feiler

“Perhaps the most important thing I learned in more than a thousand hours of interviews is that a life transition..."

Bruce Feiler
Lifequakes

They are the transitions and moments of disruption that offer unique opportunities for insight and wisdom.

The constant handling of big and small obstacles and setbacks, ironically, is what provides meaning to our lives. It is almost as if a Gateway or threshold has to be crossed, signifying the commitment of the journey from the ‘Hero’ who is able to successfully complete the ‘test of life’.

Autobiographical Occasions

Life transitions are the interesting chapters of our internal autobiographies, that provide us with the opportunity, tools and the reason to transform ourselves for the better.

We need to take small steps, or ‘microsteps’ to accept these transition moments, visualize and plan out the change, shed our old ways, unveil our transformation and the resulting new self, and to storify the entire transition.