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Looking at things differently

One of my favorite writers, Sydney Harris, once suggested that we as a society would be so much better off if only we would take the time to understand the perspectives of other people before expressing our own viewpoints. Roger von Oech, author and creativity consultant, takes that suggestion to its periphery, which he contends leads to imaginative thinking. Dr. von Oech further tells us that the third right answer to any given problem or situation is usually the best because it’s the most creative and that ambiguity actually stimulates creative thinking.By combining the notions of these two truth-seekers, I thought I might posit a few ideas about looking at the world with a fresh perspective: — For those who have a particular political or social bent, wouldn’t it be a great idea to take a position on an issue that’s a polar opposite of our own, then, research the subject and support it with facts and reason. (Who knows, perhaps Matt Zalaznick could write a commentary supporting George Bush or I could say something positive about Barbara Boxer.)– Many of us are volunteers in the community, which is usually a noble undertaking. But perhaps it may not be a bad idea for volunteers to stop and look at what we’re doing and ask ourselves if we’re really helping to change what needs to be changed and if we’re actually preserving what needs to be preserved. — Several years ago I promised myself that I would maintain relationships with only loving and caring people. Yet all too often I find myself involved with people whose primary concern seems to be the pursuit of affluence and pleasure. Not that those preoccupations are inherently bad, but its occurred to me that it might be beneficial to associate with people whose concept of things material, and gratification are by-products of their way of life rather than its focal point.– I believe it was Mark Twain who said we should have several friends of each gender who are older, younger and our same age. To extrapolate upon his idea it may be of even greater benefit to cultivate friendships with people whose life circumstances are vastly different than our own – e.g. a minority, someone new to our country or persons much less fortunate than we.– Each of us has goals in life (or at least we should – after all, if one doesn’t have a firm fix on a destination, then any port will do and it usually does). But a question we may want to occasionally ask ourselves is whether our proximate goals are leading us towards or away from our ultimate goals.– Bernard Shaw once said, “It’s impossible for the smoker and the non-smoker to be equally free in the same railway car.” Society continually presents us with such contradictions. So I thought it might be interesting that the next time we encounter a paradoxical issue, even if it the outcome is preordained, to take a moment and think about how we could reach a solution that is more palatable to all who are involved.– Posing a problem in an ambiguous way can affect startling outcomes. Gen. George Patton once said, “If you tell people where to go, but not how to get there, you’ll be amazed at the results.” I once used this technique with my own daughter when she was a teenager by saying, “You can use the car this weekend, but only if you do something this week that really pleases me.” The result far exceeded my expectations.– It’s probably a good idea not to fall in love with ideas, especially our own. When we fall in love with a certain approach or system it frequently renders us unable to see the merits in alternative methods. When we let go of a given way of thinking, of viewing a problem or even the way we look at the world, it opens us up to see new approaches we didn’t know existed. Well, that’s enough waxing philosophic for one day; I’ve got to go find something positive to write about Barbara Boxer. Butch Mazzuca of Singletree, a Realtor, writes a weekly column for the Daily. E-mail him at bmazz68@earthlink.netVail, Colorado


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