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Three Directional Thinking

9 · 09 · 17

This is one of thoughts you get while driving. I was thinking about my choices in the way think, and yes, we do have choices. When something hits my brain I can respond to it in one of three ways (note: I know these terms have varied meanings, I’m using the terms purely for illustration) :

Downward Thinking

Downward thinking is adopting the thinking of the base. Base thinking is the first things that come out of people’s mouths. Base people react versus respond; they are the first people to post on social if they don’t like something and add more emotion than is really needed.

Downward thinkers say things like, “I’m just speaking the truth” and “Well, someone has to say something and I don’t care who’s feelings get hurt.” Their not thinking about what is best overall, they are thinking about what is best of them, right now.

Lateral Thinking

Lateral thinking is thinking what everyone else is thinking. Lateral thinkers put their fingers in the air, see which way the wind s blowing and hoist their sales in that direction.

Lateral thinkers don’t think for themselves, they think to survive and if saying or doing what others say keeps them safe, then so be it.

Upward Thinking

Upward thinkers have flipped a switch. Upward thinking believes in positive living and is playing the long game to achieve such a life. An upward thinker sees life as precious and worth living and carefully weighs their thoughts  before acting.

The upward thinker believes success is around the corner, even if it’s a few years away.

Here’s an example: When we encounter people we don’t like

The downward thinker confronts and says we can never be friends and even chooses to cast them as an enemy.

The lateral thinker wonders what everyone else thinks about this person and chooses to make friends or not based on public opinion.

The upward thinker says, what are the possibilities? We may never be best friends but how can I elevate this relationship to where it can at least work and possibly grow.

This example shows micro-thinking vs macro thinking with no thinking in-between.

With every thought, every encounter, we have choices. I believe we can retrain our brains to be upward thinkers. This goes beyond positive thinking. Trying to think positively about a negative thing is mostly like shooing away a fly that only returns a few seconds later.

Upward thinking is for those who believe their life, as well as others, has purpose. Upward thinkers don’t see negative thoughts as interruptions but opportunities to think more deeply, be empathetic, and think through to the best possible outcome before acting.

None of this is easy. It’s something I practice every day. We do not have perfect control over the thoughts we think but we do have control over the direction our thoughts takes us. Let’s think upward toward a better, mentally healthier, life.



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