Ever wonder what some common traits of free thinkers are?
Free thinkers tend to shape our world. Whether it’s a mind blowing revelation that changes the course of history or just a simple improvement to someone’s everyday life, that ability to think outside the box and not be held captive by the dominant view is an admirable quality. This is a skill you can actually learn. If you want to be novel and an agent of change – whatever the scale – here are common traits of free thinkers you should cultivate:
Are you a free-thinker? One way to tell is if you aren’t limited by the rules of institutions or societies. That isn’t to say you are trying to be a trouble-maker. It just means that you understand rules for what they are - a way to control people. Sometimes rules are beneficial, like stoplights at a busy intersection for example. But free thinkers resist the pressure of rules and come up with some startling and innovative new ideas, many of which upset the status quo.
They say meetings are where good ideas go to die. That’s because there is such pressure for consensus that it’s difficult to bring up anything truly innovative. However, the free-thinker isn’t drawn to approval and even less to the monotony of herd mentality. You question convention and the standard ideas of what’s right and wrong, and have your own inner code of behavior.
You don’t see creativity as belonging to the artists or the bohemians, you see it as a natural birthright that everyone has but has perhaps forgotten. It’s possible that education and the molding of childhood brains has taught people that conformity, not creativity, was a virtue. However, it’s creativity that solves problems and creativity that thinks of new ways to do things, so its value is immeasurable.
Free thinkers look through time to see not only what could change for the better right now but how things could play out in the future. Free thinkers understand that the current thinking is a product of the current time, and that our thinking may change as we move forward through time towards the future. Some of the world greatest thinkers saw beyond the narrative of the time they lived in and created with the future in mind.
Free thinkers are almost never conservative, authoritarian or super religious. Most of these institutions believe in an absolute truth, whereas the free thinker thinks truth is ever-changing. For example, the conventional thought used to be that the Earth was the center of the universe, and now we know that not to be true. The free-thinker knows with new discoveries our ideas about “truth” change, because even with as much as we know currently, we still don’t have a clue about the bigger picture.
Free-thinkers know that how you see or feel about something can change by just viewing the situation from a different angle. Perspectives are sometimes difficult to change, but questioning yourself and your views is nothing new to the free-thinker. Sometimes listening to someone tell a story about their experiences, or hearing a new interpretation of a problem is enough to make you see things from a different viewpoint. Learning a new language opens up opportunities for altering your view of the world. Adversities suddenly become learning opportunities; and failure can be seen as the beginning of success.
Our perception of the world around us is largely a product of agreed-upon meanings behind the labels we give things. For example, we may all think we know what the color white is. However, if you ask a person who is surrounded by white all the time, like the many of the Inuit, you’ll understand that their perception of white is much more detailed. Not surprisingly, some free-thinkers engage in chemically induced perception alteration, such as LSD, peyote, and mushrooms.
I think I’m creative, not sure that I’m a free thinker. Is this something you see in yourself or aspire to be?