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Flexible thinking

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

In previous articles, I have discussed dichotomous thinking. It is an all-or-nothing, rigid, inflexible method of understanding one's experience. Alan Aragon wrote a great book called Flexible Dieting: A Science-based, Reality-tested Method for Achieving Your Optimal Physique, Performance, and Health. Interestingly, his diet solution works very much the same way my philosophy does.

The primary reason why people experience dysfunctional or disordered eating is that they think dichotomously about food. People often form judgments about good and bad foods and create unnecessary stress in their diets. People who adopt a one-size-fits-all, all-or-nothing approach to eating are more likely to binge, which can be more harmful than not doing the diet at all.

According to Arango, a black-and-white approach to criminal law might be appropriate, but a relativistic approach to nutrition and dieting is more productive. Science tells us that up to 20% of our daily caloric intake can be discretionary calories, or in other words, as long as the other 80% adheres to macronutrient guidelines, you can eat pretty much anything you want. Our eating does not need to be governed by a strict and rigid conception.

The same applies to hyper-focusing on what is true, since absolute truth, like reality, eludes our grasp forever. Thus, adopting a flexible mindset about how things work is healthier. As much as we think science provides the truth about things, it also requires the same flexible mind that is open to new discoveries.

Confidence is a better word than truth. We can comfortably adopt some scientific beliefs that have been thoroughly tested with sufficient evidence and peer review into our personal worldview. In the same way, there is considerable scientific research out there that lacks the level of testing and evidence to be given the same level of confidence. It is important to note that life is broad and complex and cannot be fully and properly understood by strict and inflexible rules.

The environment in which you worked in the past may have been rigid and limited your freedom and creativity. You probably remember what it feels like when you are unable to do what you want or what you think could be done differently that would be more effective. Remember the feeling of working through barriers to resolving the conflict. Essentially, that's what I'm suggesting about our relationship with reality

Uncertainty and ambiguity are challenging aspects of this philosophy. Cognitive closure is important to us, and we don't want to waste our lives not pursuing the goals we want to achieve.

We can re-engage with goals in a healthier way by adopting this open mindset. In order to avoid the stress and anxiety associated with repeated failure, we can evaluate whether or not a proposed goal is likely to be achievable. Additionally, not all anxiety is bad anxiety. Anxiety can sometimes give us the energy we need to be productive. These aspects will be discussed in a future discussion.

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