Photo by Nitish Kadam on Unsplash
Humans have been running on left-brained, linear thinking for a long time. It has accomplished a lot, but its limitations are also evident.
What Is Linear Thinking?
Linear thinking is based on the idea of sequential events and, therefore, a line. Sequential events lead to a story, reasoning, and narratives.
Linear thinking is very cause-and-effect. Its objective is to create a kind of solidity. Because it connects everything in a line, it is very surface in what it treats as valid. Linear thinking pervades our culture:
- are you in line
- are you out of line
- are you above the line
- are you on the line
- line up
Linear thinking is a way of measuring ourselves and each other. Linear thinking is at home with our inner critics.
Why Linear Thinking Fails
Linear thinking omits a lot of information from what it considers relevant. Natural cycles are ignored, denigrated, and denied in the linear world. The linear world believes that through our efforts, we can control the ups and downs of life. Many years and untold efforts have been dedicated to the goal of permanent positivity. Natural cycles do not recognize our yearning for a life without pain or downside.
Linear thinking creates structures and systems that require force to maintain them. The structures themselves become what people depend on. It is like putting a roller coaster ride in the middle of the ocean and expecting it to be safe.
Natural cycles operate in a natural process of giving and receiving, creating a circular renewal process. Linear thinking does not consider renewal as necessary. The need for renewal “takes away” from the goals of the linear system.
Where linear thinking is more structural, cyclical thinking is process oriented and aligned with the natural cycles of life. Cyclical thinking considers physical limits, the need for physical and other forms of renewal, stages of the life cycle, and the interdependency of living creatures and systems.
Cyclical thinking promotes a way of life aligned with nature. It supports a thoughtful adaptation of human to the reality of life processes. Cyclical thinking places humans in the web of life, not outside it and not over it.
What Is Ecological Thinking?
Ecological thinking is post-linear thinking It is flexible thinking which rejects fixed cultural structures that are not tied to the natural cycles of life.
Ecological thinking manifests wholeness in ourselves and the natural world, a result of embracing the interconnectedness of all life forms.
It’s a way of interacting with all of life that respects the limits and gifts of each life form. It respects the need for nourishment and renewal of all life. It embraces the complexity of the natural world, which includes us, and the natural intelligence and benevolence of the universe.
Ecological thinking sees life as a large web of beings that support each other and an endless process of living and renewal. It recognizes death as part of the process. Ecological thinking does not elevate one species over the others. Each species contributes to the whole, so protecting one over another disturbs the web of life.
Ecological thinking recognizes nature’s balancing mechanism and respects and supports it. By continually aligning with the need for rebalancing, humans can live in harmony with nature.
Ecological thinking is a natural way to live and think. It allows our experience to be part of the natural rebalancing process in our lives and lets our engagement in life serve the interdependent whole web of nature and life. It makes our living valuable to ourselves and others.
Ecological thinking and living restores humans to a balanced place in the ecological system.