The Elastic Mind: The Skill We Should All Train

Albert Einstein said that the true potential of our intelligence is in the ability to change . Being able to assume new perspectives and ideas, banishing concepts that no longer serve us is one of our best virtues. Thus, it is not surprising that within the field psychology, and also of art, a new concept, the “elastic mind”, has emerged strongly

A few years ago, at the museum of modern art in New York, MoMA, an exhibition was held representing this same idea. Our society and the human being live a moment where everything is constantly changing. Science and technology are increasingly important in our way of processing reality, working , relating and even understanding the world.

Thus, in books as interesting as Design and the elastic mind , by the architect Paula Antonelli, director of research at MoMA, she speaks to us precisely about the need to develop a more elastic thinking . Only in this way will we be able to survive and give our best in an environment in constant change, in which we are almost forced to improvise, to react quickly to solve more than one challenge.

Achieving it is not exactly easy, the brain is usually very resistant to change and lives very clinging to its comfort zones. However, teaching our conservative mind to be something more innovative and flexible can help us generate very positive changes .

The characteristics of the elastic mind

If we were to talk about a mental quality that we should all train, develop and apply in our day to day life, it would undoubtedly be cognitive flexibility .

On its opposite side, we would have that fixed mindset that is beaten and frustrated almost continuously by checking that things are not always as one wants and expects. They are people who do not admit criticism, who do not handle failures or errors well and who also avoid challenges for fear of failure .

Knowing this we should reformulate the concept of talent. Thus, although it is true that there are those who present a natural disposition towards certain competences (music, art, engineering), that advantage will not allow them to achieve success or well-being if they do not also have an elastic mind. Being able to open ourselves to new paradigms and to apply a series of very specific processes are the ones that really mark the advantage . Let’s see what this is about.

Get used to ambiguity

Things are never white or black. Our reality unfolds in a range of unattractive grays that we must get used to. In this way, the elastic mentality becomes accustomed to the uncertainty that defines many of the things that surround us : the work you take for granted today can be lost tomorrow, that person who today bets on us can withdraw his support, etc.

The elastic mind goes beyond the conventional

The conventional thing is that safe space that is so easy to get used to. It gives us a feeling of permanence, of stillness and roots. However, if there is something we must understand, it is that life is not static, it flows, varies, changes and often moves with rapid speed. One way to survive these changes is to be able to innovate, to go beyond the conventions .

In this way, to develop innovative thinking, we must begin to rely on our creativity and intuition . Something like this is only achieved by observing, but being able to see beyond, perceiving needs, new perspectives and applying proactive behavior .

Failure tolerance: an error is a learning

Tolerance to mistakes and how we deal with them says a lot about us. While the fixed mindset remains blocked and tends to avoid those situations where it does not feel competent, the elastic mind applies another vision. Understand, for example, that a failure is not a reason to give in to certain things, it is a learning opportunity and a forced step back is often a way to gain greater momentum.

A brain that never stops questioning and that feeds on curiosity

If we were to give an example about a figure who knew how to apply the elastic mentality throughout his life, we would highlight Leonardo da Vinci . The Renaissance man par excellence inquired as nobody in knowledge through observation, experimentation and daring.

It was as we know well ahead of his time in many subjects and, something he did, thanks to that gift that we all have and that usually has its greatest luminosity in childhood: we talk about curiosity . The elastic mind not only does not fear change, but seeks it because it is motivated by a constant need to know.

To conclude, as psychiatrist Robert Cloninger points out, if we are receptive to news and changes in our daily lives, and accept them without fear and in a creative way, our personality will be strengthened . The elastic mind that dares to extend beyond its comfort zone is never the same again.