Some time ago I read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. It’s a good read about why right-brainers will rule the future.
The future, really today, is the “conceptual age.” Pink discusses the “six senses” that one uses to build a whole new mind to thrive in this conceptual age: design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning. While I do not necessarily subscribe to his premise in total – I believe we need to engage both parts of our brain – he offers lots of great exercises to get your right brain working. And even though many artists are right-brained, you will find the exercises fun and expanding.
Onto ifs, ands, & buts. In his discussion on meaning, one of Pink’s suggestions for creating more meaning in your life is to replace the word “but” with “and.”
He says that “buts” can create roadblocks for creating more meaning in your life and suggests creating a list of what you are trying to accomplish and what is in your way. Here are a few examples:
“I’d like to get these new drawings for the proposal finalized, but I have to pick the kids up after school.”
“I really need to create new art classes, but I don’t have time to work on them.”
“I am happy with the design of my new quilt, but the color is off.”
Now replace each “but” in the sentence with “and:
“I’d like to get these new drawings for the proposal finalized, and I have to pick the kids up after school.”
“I really need to create new art classes, and I don’t have time to work on them.”
“I am happy with the design of my new quilt, and the color is off.”
Two things happen.
First you have not negated the phrase before the “and.” When you use “but,” you devalue all that came before it.
Second, you have, as Pink says, moved from “excuse-making” mode and into “problem-solving mode.” This opens your mind to look for possibilities. It is easy to see that when you read the sentence with the “and” your mind starts to think of how you could solve your dilemma.
If you get stuck thinking the “but” isn’t really an excuse, perhaps using this acronym will help. BUT = beyond the underling truth.
In the first example, you might say, “I would like to get these new drawings for the proposal finalized and I have to pick the kids up after school. So I need to make arrangements for someone else to pick them up so I can work.”
In the second example, “I really need to create new art classes, and I don’t have time to work on them. So I need to look at what I can eliminate or delegate.”
In the third example, “I am happy with the design of my new quilt, and the color is off. So I need to pull some colors from the stash and see what I can change.”
I also think the same thing can happen when you use in the words “if only,” as in this example:
“I really need to create art new classes, if only I had time to work on them.”
“If only” negates creating classes and leaves you in excuse-making mode. And, while you cannot make a direct swap with “and,” changing the last part will move you into problem-solving mode. Try it with “I really need to create new art classes, and I need to find time to work on them.”
Next time you find yourself saying “but” or “if only,” give “and” a try. It has made a difference for me.
It’s your turn!
Can you share an example from your own life when you changed a “but” into an “and?” What difference did it make for you?