How to Change Your Point of View
Dr. Edward Jenner was busy trying to solve the problem of smallpox. After studying case after case, he still found no possible cure. He had reached an impasse in his thinking. At this point, he changed his tactics. Instead of focusing on people who had smallpox, he switched his attention to people who did not have smallpox. It turned out that dairymaids apparently never got the disease. From the discovery that harmless cowpox gave protection against deadly smallpox came vaccination and the end of smallpox as a scourge in the western world.
We often reach an impasse in our thinking. We are looking at a problem and trying to solve it and it seems there is a dead end. It is on these occasions that we become tense, we feel pressured, overwhelmed, in a state of stress. We struggle vainly, fighting to solve the problem.
Dr. Jenner, however, did something about this situation. He stopped fighting the problem and simply changed his point of view—from his patients to dairy maids. Picture the process going something like this: Suppose the brain is a computer. This computer has absorbed into its memory bank all your history, your experiences, your training, your information received through life; and it is programmed according to all this data. To change your point of view, you must reprogramme your computer, thus freeing yourself to take in new ideas and develop new ways of looking at things. Dr. Jenner, in effect, by reprogramming his computer, erased the old way of looking at his smallpox problem and was free to receive new alternatives.
That's all very well, you may say, but how do we actually do that?
Doctor and philosopher Edward de Bono has come up with a technique for changing our point of view, and he calls it Lateral Thinking.
The normal Western approach to a problem is to fight it. The saying, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going," is typical of this aggressive attitude toward problem-solving. No matter what the problem is, or the techniques available for solving it, the framework produced by our Western way of thinking is fight. Dr. de Bono calls this vertical thinking; the traditional, sequential, Aristotelian thinking of logic, moving firmly from one step to the next, like toy blocks being built one on top of the other. The flaw is, of course, that if at any point one of the steps is not reached, or one of the toy blocks is incorrectly placed, then the whole structure collapses. Impasse is reached, and frustration, tension, feelings of fight take over.
Lateral thinking, Dr. de Bono says, is a new technique of thinking about things—a technique that avoids this fight altogether, and solves the problem in an entirely unexpected fashion.
In one of Sherlock Holmes's cases, his assistant, Dr. Watson, pointed out that a certain dog was of no importance to the case because it did not appear to have done anything. Sherlock Holmes took the opposite point of view and maintained that the fact the dog had done nothing was of the utmost significance, for it should have been expected to do something, and on this basic he solved the case.
Lateral thinking sounds simple. And it is. Once you have solved a problem laterally, you wonder how you could ever have been hung up on it. The key is making that vital shift in emphasis, that sidestepping of the problem, instead of attacking it head-on.
Dr. A. A. Bridger, psychiatrist at Columbia University and in private practice in New York, explains how lateral thinking works with his patients. "Many people come to me wanting to stop smoking, for instance," he says. "Most people fail when they are trying to stop smoking because they wind up telling themselves, 'No, I will not smoke; no, 1 shall not smoke; no, I will not; no, I cannot...' It's a fight and what happens is you end up smoking more."
"So instead of looking at the problem from the old ways of no, and fighting it, I show them a whole new point of view—that you are your body's keeper, and your body is something through which you experience life. If you stop to think about it, there's really something helpless about your body. It can do nothing for itself. It has no choice, it is like a baby's body. You begin then a whole new way of looking at it—‘I am now going to take care of myself, and give myself some respect and protection, by not smoking.'
“There is a Japanese parable about a donkey tied to a pole by a rope. The rope rubs tight against his neck. The more the donkey fights and pulls on the rope, the tighter and tighter it gets around his throat—until he winds up dead. On the other hand, as soon as he stops fighting, he finds that the rope gets slack, he can walk around, maybe find some grass to eat...That's the same principle: The more you fight something the more anxious you become—the more you're involved in a bad pattern, the more difficult it is to escape pain.
"Lateral thinking," Dr. Bridger goes on, "is simply approaching a problem with what I would call an Eastern flanking maneuver. You know, when a zen archer wants to hit the target with a bow and arrow, he doesn't concentrate on the target, he concentrates rather on what he has in his hands, so when he lets the arrow go, his focus is on the arrow, rather than the target. This is what an Eastern flanking maneuver implies—instead of approaching the target directly, you approach it from a sideways point of view—or laterally instead of vertically."
"I think the answer lies in that direction," affirms Dr. Bridger. "Take the situation where someone is in a crisis. The Chinese word for crisis is divided into two characters, one meaning danger and the other meaning opportunity. We in the Western world focus only upon the ‘danger' aspect of crisis. Crisis in Western civilization has come to mean danger, period. And yet the word can also mean opportunity. Let us now suggest to the person in crisis that he cease concentrating so upon the dangers involved and the difficulties, and concentrate instead upon the opportunity—for there is always opportunity in crisis. Looking at a crisis from an opportunity point of view is a lateral thought."
n. a highly contagious disease causing spots which leave marks on the skin 天花
n. a position from which progress is impossible; deadlock 僵局;死胡同
n. a method or process of carrying out a scheme or achieving some end 战术;策略
n. a girl or woman who works in a dairy 牛奶场女工
n. 1. place where milk is kept and milk products are made 牛奶场;奶品场
2. shop where milk, butter, etc. are sold 乳品店
n. a disease of cows, of which the virus was formerly used in vaccination against smallpox 牛痘
n. thing or person that causes great trouble or misfortune 苦难的根源;灾难;祸害
n. a point beyond which progress or achievement is impossible; a street or passage closed at one end 僵局;死巷，死胡同
ad. uselessly; in vain 枉然地;徒劳地
a. 1. having too high an opinion of one's looks, abilities, etc.; conceited 自视甚高的`;自负的
2. useless or futile 无用的，无益的，无效的;徒劳的
vt. rub out; remove all traces of 擦掉;抹去
a. of, at, towards, or from the side or sides 横向的;侧面的;向侧面的
ad. in a lateral direction, sideways 横向地;侧面地;旁边地
n. 1. the condition of the ground for walking, driving or riding 地面状况
2. condition of progress 进行情况;进展
n. 1. set of principles or ideas used as a basis for one's judgement, decisions, etc. 参照标准;准则;观点
2. structure giving shape and support 框架，结构
a. straight up and down; at right angles to a horizontal plane 纵向的;垂直的
ad. in a vertical direction 垂直地
a. of, forming, or following in (a) sequence 相继的;连续的
n. a defect; fault; error 瑕疵;缺点
n. sth. built; anything composed of parts arranged together; way in which sth. is put together, organized, built, etc. 结构;建筑物;构造物
a. greatest; highest 极度的;极高的
n. importance; meaning 重要性;意义，含义
v. step aside; avoid by stepping aside 横跨一步避开;回避
ad. in a direct manner; with the head or front first 正面地;迎头向前地
n. a brief story used to teach some moral lesson or truth 寓言
a. not tight or firm; loose 不紧的;松弛的
v. be located at the side (of); attack the side (of) 位于侧面;攻击侧面
n. a planned movement of troops or warships; a skillful move or clever trick 部队等的调遣;巧计;策略
n. a japanese form of Buddhism, emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition 禅;禅宗
n. a person who shoots with a bow and arrows 弓箭手
vt. express indirectly; suggest 暗示;意味着
a. to or from a side 旁边的;向侧面的
vt. declare to be true; say firmly 断言;肯定
vt. put an end to; stop 终止;停止
Phrases and EXpressions
receive; absorb 接受;接纳;吸收
in reality 实际上
take control in place of sth. else 取而代之;取得主导地位
be hung up on/about
be thinking or worrying too much about 因…而烦心;因…而心神不宁
(infml.) bring or come to an end; end in a specified state or circumstance (口)(使)结束;以…告终
wind up; come out 结束;结果是
draw (one end of sth. long) continuously and with force 用力拉(某长形物之一端)
爱德华·詹纳(1749 — 1823，英国医生，发现牛痘对天花有免疫力，1796年试验牛痘接种成功)
Edward de Bono
歇洛克·福尔摩斯(英国作家 A. Conan Doyle 所著系列侦探小说中的虚构主人公，一位推理能力极强的私家大侦探)