Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

Unblocking thinking with kindness?

Mindfulness appears as the main practice which unblocks thinking in innovative ways. But, paying attention is not enough. The attitude matters if you want to innovate.

Photo by Sandrachile at Unsplash

Photo by Sandrachile at Unsplash

A study reported in the Harvard Business Review aimed at engineering students says

“mindfulness may heighten the divergent thinking that is so essential in technical design, and how a mindful attitude of openness, not just attention, may be a major catalyst for innovative mindsets.”

The 3-drivers of a mindful attitude are openness, curiosity, and kindness. While the first two seemed logical, I was puzzled by the last.

Open and curious attitudes allow us ” to make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts, which is crucial to generating original ideas.” But kindness?

Beth Rieken, Shauna Shapiro, Shannon Gilmartin, and Sheri Sheppard say that ” having a kind attitude is an aspect of self-compassion, which protects against harsh self-criticism and a fear of failure, inspiring people to take risks and explore uncharted territory, leading to novel solutions.”

While kindness protects you from the fear of failure, resilience protects us from the blocking of failing. Every time we take a risk and move outside our comfort zone, we’re bold to explore because we’re born to learn. Failing is a necessary step but it doesn’t make you a failure. Therefore, besides kindness, a resilient mindset might also be a step toward unblocking innovative thinking.

Finally, kindness with yourself is important, but never forget to be kind to others too.

True learning is always relational.

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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