Monday, November 12, 2012

Like A 7-Year Old

Is it just a hat or could it be an elephant swallowed by a boa constrictor? In Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s famous fable The Little Prince, the narrator draws a picture of a boa constrictor and asks adults around him whether they find it frightening. “Why should anyone be frightened by a hat?” they replied.

As adults, we tend to hang our hats on what we have learned and what we have experienced. We explain our world with logic and rational thinking. But what about radical thinking?

A study in 2010 took this theory to the test by asking a group of college students to write a short essay on what they would do if school was cancelled for a day. Another group of students were asked to imagine that they were seven years old when answering the question.

After this exercise, participants were asked to complete a creative thinking test. Most participants performed as expected, apart from the participants who had been asked to write the essay from the perspective of a seven year old. This group exhibited significantly higher levels of originality in thought.

The Little Prince reminds us to look at the world through the eyes of a child once in a while so that we can see of new ways to approaching old ideas. Take a moment to free yourself from the mental constraints of routine and give yourself the opportunity to think like a child again. I just spent some time with granddaughters Stella (5) and Chloe (2). What a wonderful world they see and live in.

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