I Think Therefore I Feel

Monday June 21, 2021

[To listen to an audio version of this blog post, please click here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1396123/8724396 and to watch the video, please click here: https://youtu.be/AAGMUcdmgL0]

The other day, Leah wrote, “What is your ‘happy hat’?” I’d spent the week thinking about Edward de Bono and his Six Thinking Hats.

It’s time for hats!

I wonder if René Descartes would be gracious enough for me to adapt his famous, “I think, therefore I am”? His was a way to prove our existence. Mine is a way to improve our experience of our existence. Why? Because our thinking often drives the way we feel.

I was having a complete hissy-fit the other day, a bad mood that grew progressively worse. “Could it be,” I thought to myself, “that moods are purely chemical?” If so, my thinking was agitating those chemicals!

A little Internet surfing seemed to confirm that every emotion is a complex cocktail of chemicals rushing through the bloodstream. How are these chemicals triggered? They are triggered by our reaction or our response to a stimulus. If something makes us jump, the “fear” emotional reaction is necessarily fast – leaving no time to think before the cocktail is released. However, in most circumstances, we have time to think, we have time to respond, and thus have time to change how we feel.

Feeling cross was a real downer, something I want to learn to influence even if I can’t quite control it. It was therefore interesting to be reminded of the contribution Edward de Bono has made to improving our thinking. Edward died on the 9th June – a great loss to the world of thinking.

One of Edward’s most famous techniques is “Six Thinking Hats.” Playing on the idea of, “Putting on our Thinking Cap,” de Bono suggested we would have a better experience of life if we learned “Parallel Thinking” – to think in multiple ways.

He asked us to put on one Thinking Hat at a time.
We put on the White Hat to think about facts and to use our powers of logic.
The Black Hat is the one to wear when thinking about what could go wrong – the worst-case scenario.
To balance this with optimism – the best-case scenario - he said to wear the Yellow Hat.
To create options, alternatives, and possibilities, we put on the Green Hat.
The Blue Hat is the management hat, put on to lead and organise the thinking process.
But by far my favourite is the Red Hat which allows us to express our emotions without needing any argument to justify them.

Returning to my hissy-fit, a wise friend would let me keep the Red Hat on for a few minutes while I ranted and vented! They could then ask me to put on the Black Hat to exaggerate the worst-case scenario (i.e. “The day was ruined, I wouldn’t get any work done!”)

Rant and gloom and doom over, I could put on the White Hat to calmly look at the facts.

After this, the Yellow Hat would help me think through the best-case, and the Green Hat would facilitate the generation of positive options to improve the day. Finally, the Blue Hat would help me organise what to do next.

Frankly, it’s cute even if over-complex for most situations, but it made me think… and the more I thought about it, the calmer I became. Surprise, surprise – I ended up having a pretty good day. I think, therefore I feel.

A Moodscope member.

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