An Unabashed Endorsement for Integral Thinking
by Jordan Myska Allen, a lover of life and entrepreneur. He acts as a psychological, spiritual, and professional consultant and practices applied integral thinking.
We have talked a lot on DailyHap about psychological, physical, even spiritual development. We’ve talked about how all of these relate to happiness. But we haven’t talked too much about mental development and how our framework—the lens through which we see the world—affects the way we feel.
The mental lens through which you see is just as important to your happiness.
Most of us value learning, but that usually means a particular skill, as opposed to learning new ways to think about the same things. New lenses through which to view the world. Most of the time we’re not looking to work out our brain like a mental muscle, building up by tearing down the fibers of our old view down, then letting the mind get enough rest to re-grow new fibers even stronger.
It makes sense that we do not often seek this kind of learning; tearing down our point of view, questioning the basic assumptions we hold about reality is a challenge. Many people do not want it, and even those that do have a hard time finding something that really does it for them. We generally look for articles, books and ideas that confirm our opinions. When we read alternative points of view we often use these to reify our positions. We focus on how wrong “the other” point of view is instead of questioning our own point of view.
New Ways of Thinking Help Us
The problem with this is that it doesn’t help us achieve our goals, especially if our goal is to grow, or be creative, or to innovate, or help other people that might see the world through a lens different from our own. All of these require us to step outside of of our normal way of being. They require us to synthesize different ways of thinking, unique pieces of information that seem unrelated at first glance, and integrate them. To see what fits and what doesn’t.
Ideally you can keep an open mind and actually consider the truth behind differing opinions. No one is 100% right, therefore no one is 100% wrong. What is the relative truth and how can that inform and expand your thinking? But in the reality of stress and emotions keeping an open mind is really hard. Accepting a new idea that is in contrast to your current thinking can be painful, especially when we hold our ideas dea.
Hack Your Worldview
So instead we can hack ourselves, work around our thinking by zooming out and seeing the thinking itself. We see how our views themselves fit in a context of other views.
The best way to do this is to read a book on Integral Theory; ideally a book by Ken Wilber such as A Theory of Everything or Integral Psychology. A book or course on Spiral Dynamics or CoreIntegral.com online training works well. Audio learners might try downloading presentations and interview on IntegralLife.com or the Kosmic Consciousness CD set.
I considered recommending a more open ended, pick-anything-you-haven’t-read before (similar to this creativity article), but I can’t guarantee that what you pick will truly workout your mental fibers in a way that will increase your capacity and change the way you see. I can guarantee that with these recommendations. This kind of thinking represents the cutting edge, applicable to nearly every field of interest and study—including happiness. It certainly informs my writing.
I will warn you that this thinking is complex, and reading related wikipedia articles is the equivalent of going to a CrossFit gym and watching others work out: It may help you decide whether or not you want to invest your time and energy into that system, but it doesn’t actually help you grow.
You do not need to bite off the whole system. Pick one of these mental workouts as an opportunity to draw something useful for what you care about. And then let us know how it goes.