by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© September 2010, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Thinking styles can mean the difference between life and death. This article offers suggestions for a manner or way of thinking that begins with yourself and radiates outward from there. I believe this is a simple formula for a successful life, whereas other thinking styles do not work nearly as well in almost all cases. So while there are a few exceptions, here are the simple rules for this way of thinking about all situations and problems.
1. Do not begin your thinking trying to make everyone equal or happy, and feeling depressed because there seems to be no fairness or equality on earth.
In reality, there is a kind of fairness, but it may not be apparent. What occurs, I have found, is that a person’s thinking really does determine his or her life and circumstances more than one can imagine. However, outwardly, there is no equality on earth, and things occur in people’s lives for unforeseen and poorly understood reasons.
Perhaps this is “unfair”, but objecting to it will not change it. You can never know all of a person’s past actions and thinking patterns. So what appears to be unfairness may not be so.
The attempt to make everyone equal always is disastrous. The French Revolution is the best example of this. In modern times, the doctrine of equal outcomes for all is the basis for communism and socialism. Such philosophies do not work well and have caused major wars and other problems.
Equal justice. Having said this, there is a legal doctrine in America and some other nations called equal treatment under the law. This is also called equal justice. This is stated in the American Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. In law, it is the idea that if two people steal a loaf of bread or shoot someone, both should be treated exactly the same by the criminal justice system. This is a sound doctrine that is not enforced enough. It means not making excuses for people due to the color of their skin, how much money they have, their religious beliefs, or anything else. If one breaks the law, the consequences should be the same for everyone.
This idea, however, is different than the belief that everyone should have an “equal” life, with the same kind of house, the same amount of money, the same satisfying job, etc. This kind of equality never occurs and cannot occur in a free society because people make choices of how to spend their time and their money, and the outcomes will necessarily be different for each one. All attempts to equalize outcomes are bound to fail. The best we can hope for is to teach people how to spend their time and money wisely. This is why the idea of taking from the rich and giving to the poor is a bad idea in almost all cases.
2. Do not begin your thinking with ideas about “balance” or “tolerance”. The reason is that one is not aware of all the factors in most situations, so “balancing” them is not easy, and is often impossible. Balance is not a sound legal or logical doctrine in most cases. Right or wrong is a better one, but even here one must be careful and always begin with survival of yourself, as explained below.
3. Instead, think first about your physical survival. What will it take for you, personally, to survive physically and to be safe and secure? This is not selfish. Rather, it is common sense. However, too many people worry about others first, or about the environment first, or about something else first such as animals, or their families or even strangers.
While very noble-sounding, thinking of others first is not sound thinking. You will be in a much better place to help others if you first help yourself.
Having said this, by helping others in the correct way, you will also help yourself. This is the basis for capitalism, for example. By setting up a business or corporation that offers a product or service, you will help others and you will help yourself as well by making a small profit.
Those who rant and rave against capitalism and business are misguided because they don’t understand the real basis for a free market capitalist system, which is to help yourself first and to do so by helping others. This does not mean that all corporations and businesses do good, but most of them are very good for the workers and for the consumers of the products and services.
4. After yourself, think of those who are closest to you physically. These are your immediate partners and children, for example, or neighbors. What will it take for them to survive and prosper?
This step is also very critical in your thinking. Too many parents forget the needs of their partners and children, for example, to “take care of others” or “take care of the world”. Usually, their relationships fall apart and misery follows. So it is important to look to those who are physically close to you first and make sure all is well there, before venturing out in your thinking and your actions to help others or start projects in the world.
5. Next, think of your community or town. What is necessary for it to survive and prosper ? Then, expand your thinking to your nation. What will it take for the nation to survive and prosper?
Once again, many people ignore the needs of their local communities in order to pursue grander-sounding plans. This usually leads to mistakes and disasters. It has led to the downfall of entire nations that have worried more about others than about themselves. The nation and the community must be defended and made secure first.
For example, some people do not like the fact that the state of Arizona, USA, passed a law that police can ask people for identification if they believe the person is not in the country legally. This is an example of misguided thinking in my mind. The nation and the state must be defended against illegal immigrants, and it is the federal law, though it not being enforced. So the state is correct in dealing with the proglem if the federal authorities will not do their job.
Other ways people ignore their own nation and community include those who first want to “save the earth”, but forget that their community must survive first. Perhaps the people in the community or nation need inexpensive gasoline to burn or coal to burn, or other things. Then this must be taken care of first.
A sound foundation for action. To summarize, one can and should think globally, but always begin your thinking process and your actions locally, aimed at survival of yourself and those around you first. This will give you a sound foundation. Then you can reach out to others and to the larger world. If the order gets reversed, even slightly, you will be easily thrown into chaos and are more likely to fail in your efforts and in your logic.
Safety. The above order of thinking will also tend to keep you far safer. Safety must always be a primary concern, not peace or love or harmony. Those can come later when you are safe. Peace or love without safety is stupid and does not last. Those who put it first are usually being used by propaganda experts or dark forces that know how to trigger people’s emotions. Safety is a very physical, grounded and centered concept.
Clear-headed. If you think in this order, you will not be swayed by false arguments that you are “racist”, “unfair”, “unloving to foreigners”, or don’t care about people around the world, and so on. Your answer will always be the same. That is, I must start with myself, those around me such as my family and my neighbors. If we are okay, then we can be helpful, generous, loving and sharing with others. But it I listen to you, you tell the person, I may not be around to help anyone.
TRAPS THAT STOP LOGICAL THINKING
Here are five ways that people sabotage their thinking process, or upset it so they become confused and off track. Knowing about these can help you avoid them:
1. Relying too much on first impressions. This is sometimes called the anchoring trap. First impressions may be important, but they may be entirely wrong. Do not judge people, ideas or anything by your first impression. Some would say “Never judge a book by its cover.”
Instead, always look beyond the surface and beyond first impressions. In other words, give new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new people a chance.
2. Getting stuck with the status quo. This means that you cannot see possibilities and you think that what exists is what must be. Often, what exists is just the result of a series of accidents, or corruption, or ignorance. Always look beyond the status quo and be willing to think of other possibilities. They sometimes call this “thinking outside the box”. It is a critical concept for creative and just accurate thinking.
3. Protecting earlier choices. This is a common trap. Many people continue with their former ways of thinking and doing things because to change means acknowledging that they made mistakes, which is embarrassing, and it often means losing money, friends, associates, status, or something else.
Effective and wholesome thinking requires the courage to give up your past in physical, emotional and mental ways, and the willingness to instead embrace the future.
4. Seeing what you want to see. This is also a common mistake. It is usually caused by unconscious impressions or traumas that basically blind one to reality and instead one looks for one’s past in the present. So one only sees or is willing to embrace certain ideas, certain people, and certain ways of thinking.
Try to allow yourself to see all sides of a story and all perspectives. Sometimes the truth will be ugly or repulsive, and it will not be what you thought it would be or what you want. However, it is still extremely valuable to seek for truth, and not for what appears acceptable to your mind.
5. Incomplete information. This is a trap we all fall into at times. It means drawing conclusions about ideas, people and situations when you don’t know the full story. At times, it is hard to know the full story, and some would say we never will have all the facts about a complex issue. However, you can know about this trap and do your best to avoid it. Here are some of the ways to do this.
1. Take your time and gather your facts carefully.
2. Make your assumptions explicit. This means to try to uncover how you are approaching situations and ideas instead of glossing over your assumptions and moving too fast into your conclusions.
3. Favor hard data over “soft” information or just mental or emotional impressions. This is sometimes difficult, but is an important consideration in some types of decisions.
4. Question your assumptions in all cases.
5. If “things do not add up”, or do not make sense, don’t stop searching for the answers. Look deeper, and gather more facts until you have a logical and clear picture of a situation.