Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Paradox Thinking Once More...!

It just struck me that had one of the characters in a favourite (for its morals and touching narration) story of mine (loaded with emotion and pathos) adopted Paradox thinking a precious life could have been saved! The story of course wouldn’t have been as effective as it is now, without the change that I suggest. Nevertheless, here’s what occurred to me.

The story is one that many in India may be familiar with; the story of the Mongoose and the Child. For the benefit of those who are not aware of the story, here’s a quick narration. There may be many versions of the story, but here’s the one I remember. There lives a childless couple in a village in India. One day, the husband finds a mongoose kid and brings it home and the couple takes good care of it and showers it with love and affection. Soon, the couple’s sorrow of not having a child is taken care of by providence and they are blessed with a child. The couple in fact believes that it was the mongoose that brought them good luck and continues to take care of the mongoose as one among their family. The mongoose in turn is very loyal and loving to the family. One day, it so happens that the wife has to go out to fetch water from a far away place and thinks about whether it would be safe to leave the child with the mongoose while she is away. She finally decides that there is no harm in doing so and goes off, trusting the mongoose to guard her child. In her absence, a snake crawls into the house and is headed toward the child’s cradle when the mongoose risks his life and fights the snake and succeeds in killing it as well. Having done a great job of saving the child, the mongoose triumphantly marches out to meet the returning mother of the child. On seeing the mongoose with blood dripping from its mouth, the woman is shocked and immediately concludes that the mongoose has killed her child and drops the pot of water on the mongoose thus killing it (Unbearable this scene). She runs in with a scream only to find a smiling child and a dead snake nearby. She runs back to the mongoose but it’s too late; the damage has been done. (I feel a huge lump in my throat and tears welling up in my eyes even though this story is an old and oft-encountered one for me). Well, the moral of the story is clear –

1) Do not jump to conclusions/ Look before you leap…

2) Trust your loved ones

It just occurred to me that there could be another moral to it – 3) Adopt paradox thinking. It may or may not turn out to useful (lead to the truth), but the very act of entertaining paradox thinking can help! It can help overcome difficult situations even if it doesn’t eventually lead to the truth. The woman in our story killed the mongoose because she thought it had harmed her child. Before letting go of her emotions in the form of the pot of death on the mongoose, if only she had thought for a moment and approached the situation from the opposite direction! If only she had adopted paradox thinking and entertained the thought that the blood dripping from the mongoose’s mouth was not her child’s – due to the mongoose KILLING her child - but that of another animal that the mongoose had killed to SAVE her child! And that was the not so obvious but bare and biting truth.

Going by this example and many more that I’ve read about and experienced myself, I am completely convinced that we could all do with a lot more conscious paradox thinking (in the positive direction) in everyday situations as well as difficult situations. Sometimes, we may be very much right in what we think but despite that, entertaining paradox thinking may make the situation a lot easier to handle and keep us from doing anything impulsive or foolish. If someone says something that hurts us we may choose to think for a moment that they were perhaps only trying to make us feel better! When we face a situation that we initially think will kill us we may choose to believe that it will only make us better people! When we feel our body temperature going up we may choose to remember that our body is fighting the germs successfully rather than worry about the fever! When we fail to open a door after repeatedly trying to push it, we may choose to try pulling it! :-))) When we find ourselves hating someone for making life miserable we may choose to start loving them for building character! Paradox thinking can be wonderful. Paradox thinking can be fun and lead to creativity. Paradox thinking can even change one’s approach to life. It can thus, be, most importantly, worth it.

Inspiration: The Paradox Process by Derm Barrett

Also check out - http://enchantedmind.com/html/creativity/techniques/paradox.html

I’ll also try and link all my other posts on paradox thinking, in the next few days…

1 comment:

Prabu Missier said...

Hi Nimmy,

Nice thoughts on positive thinking,but alas lesser mortals like me can't even think when adversity faces us. Overcoming negativism is perhaps easier than embracing adversity....

Prabu