Fresh Thinking


The first step to keep your thinking fresh is the realisation that this is important and one needs to be intentional about this. Once, we put our intention behind this, our subconscious mind will take this as important and will keep noticing stuff that will enable us to find ways to keep our thinking fresh.


The next step to keep your thinking fresh is to keep exposing yourself to fresh thinking happening around you. You could read books (or blogs), listen to audio-books (or podcasts) or watch interviews or keynote presentations (on youtube), attend conferences and network with different kinds of people. You would be even better off, if you include a lot of variety in your consumption habits and are not restricted to your own field of study or operation.


There is nothing that is better than having a cup of hot coffee/tea and a stimulating conversation with someone you respect and admire. Even better if the conversation helps you either solidify or help change your position on a specific topic. So, it is important to have the ability to change our opinions about anything and everything when you find evidence supporting the contrary view.


If you don’t find someone to have this conversation with, you could do this with yourself by following the principles of Janusian thinking. This is the kind of thinking where you first create a set of arguments for a belief and then try and create another set of arguments which are contrary to the belief. This way, you will slowly realise that there is always a contrarian opinion, which could be as valid as your own opinion and you will start respecting people with the contrarian beliefs as much as you respect your own beliefs.


Every now-and-then retreating to a place which affords solitude also serves a very important role in keeping your thinking fresh. You could have designated time periods where you are alone with yourself, without any distractions. We all realise that it is very difficult to keep our minds still and not think of anything. When we are alone with no distractions, our mind will bring up thoughts and emotions that we have otherwise filed away. Once you deal with them, you then create the capacity to think about other important topics about which you care deeply about. One could do this as retreating once or twice a week or one could incorporate this in our regular schedule (a day of solitude every fortnight, maybe).


The best way to keep your thinking fresh is to teach what you want to keep on top of. Teaching is not easy and when done well, both the students and the teacher go back enriched. I teach design thinking class at an institute and every time that i finish a class, I would have learnt a new way to share an insight or a new insight that i didn’t have when I started the class and most importantly, where is the gap in my understanding of the topic (these are the questions for which i didn’t have a good answer in the class). After every class, you not only have homework for students but for teachers as well. I have found this to be the most cathartic experience and the best way to keep my thinking about a topic fresh.

How do you keep your thinking fresh?