Linear thinking: What is actually controlling our life choices?

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Linear thinking. In our conscious thinking, we can only handle one thought at a time, but this thought is not isolated. It instead builds on the previous thought and leads to the next thought, in linear thinking chains based on a broader overall plan, where A leads to B leading to C …

Our linear thinking works both in the small everyday situations and in our big life choices. If our interest is captured by a certain phenomenon early in life, it may be history, politics, motocross, fly fishing, veganism or something else, then the first, often random contact, may sometimes lead on to a life-time interest.

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Linjärt tänkande: vad är det egentligen som styr våra livsval?

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Linjärt tänkande. I vårt medvetna tänkande kan vi bara hantera en tanke i taget, men denna tanke är inte isolerad. Den bygger i stället på föregående tanke och leder vidare till nästa tanke, i linjära tankekedjor utifrån en större övergripande plan, där A leder till B som leder till C…

Vårt linjära tänkande fungerar både i det lilla och i våra stora livsval. Om vi tidigt i livet börjar intressera oss för ett visst fenomen; det kan vara historia, politik, motocross, flugfiske, veganism eller något helt annat, så kan den första, ofta slumpartade kontakten, ibland leda vidare till ett livlångt intresse.

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The experiment with the five monkeys

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Five monkeys are placed in a cage. From the ceiling of the cage hang bananas that can be reached by using a ladder. As soon as one of the monkeys climbs the ladder to pick a banana, cool water is sprayed all over the other four apes. When the monkeys soon realise the consequence of one of them climbing the ladder, the remaining will immediately and with great force drag down anyone in the group trying to climb the ladder before the cold water is turned on. It will not be long before no one of the monkeys climbs the ladder anymore out of fear of the others.

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Experimentet med de fem aporna

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Fem apor placeras i en bur. I taket hänger bananer som kan nås via en stege. Så fort en av aporna klättrar upp på stegen för att plocka ner en banan så spolas kallt vatten över de övriga fyra aporna. Då aporna snart inser konsekvensen av att en av dem klättrar upp på stegen, så drar de övriga genast med våld ner envar i gruppen som försöker klättra upp på stegen innan vattnet hinner sättas på. Det dröjer inte länge förrän ingen av aporna längre klättrar upp av rädsla för de övriga.

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What is your question?

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On her death bed, the American poet, novelist and playwright Gertrude Stein, asked her life partner Alice B Toklas “What is the answer?”. When Toklas did not answer, Stein sighed and said “In that case what is the question?”.

In our lives, we so often focus on providing the answers that we seldom reflect on the questions. We are going for the quick fixes, and by doing so we risk running in different directions without really knowing why or where we are going. If we are always seeking the answers, we also become reactive and steered by questions posed by others. Being the ones formulating the questions, instead puts us in the driving seat and allows us to define the direction, and eventually our lives.

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