Second Thought designed by Benjamin H. Byron from the Noun Project

Second Thought designed by Benjamin H. Byron from the Noun Project

We tend to think in habitual ways, which hinders our ability to think creatively and solve complex problems. Over at Farnam Street, Shane Parrish dives into the writing of Roger Martin to uncover the value of breaking our thinking habits in order to generate new ideas or solutions:

What we think is often made up of habits…In an evolutionary context this makes a lot of sense. If you see a lion, you run. This is fairly closed. You don’t ask a lot of questions or attempt to discern if the lion is friendly or not. Our minds are optimized to think and act quickly…

As unconscious and intuitive habits, these are often hidden from us and often come from our desire to feel good. Over time, however, these habits become our reality…

The key to changing how we think, then, is to switch from intuitive to deliberate thought, observe our patterns of communication, and then change the way in which we communicate. As Heinz von Foerster put it, “If you want to think differently, first learn to act differently.” Communicating differently with others and yourself is the key to changing your mind.

According to the article, to break our thinking habits — to have generally more ideas as well as more creatives ones — we have to look at how we communicate to others and ourselves. By changing how you communicate to others about your ideas, it impacts how you communicate to yourself (and thus, changes how you think). 


  • Monica Saunders

    Hi Tanner,
    Thanks for pointing me towards this article. I had never heard of Farnam Street and now I’m going to be reading a lot more on there. I also liked what Shane had to say about thought, this concept is something I have been mulling over for a while.


    • tannerc

      Glad you like it Monica. It’s become a regular read for me as well.

  • Raymond Emery

    Thanks for this article and 99u. It’s on my daily RSS.

  • Mark Cavendish

    thanks a lot

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