Tag Archives: how to think

Are You a Surface Thinker? — New Surface Thinkers’ Rx Series

Are you a surface thinker?

Let’s test you and find out.

Do you cling to the surface of understanding like these thrown-overboard-undesirables cling to topside to breathe?

Photo credit: Hakan Norberg

If you read a headline, do you investigate further before you consider the headline part of your vast wealth of understanding? Or do you cockily throw that half-assed version of understanding on the table during group conversations like a merit badge representing your intellect?

Do you think many things are obvious?

Do you think ALL things are to a degree obvious?

Do you scoff and say, “well obviously,” a lot?

My friend, if you answered, “yes, no, yes, yes, yes, yes,” you might be a surface thinker. But fear not! The vast depth of beauty lying beyond that reflective surface Narcissus fell captive to is accessible to you!

If someone asked you to estimate the number of fish in this cove, how could you count all the sardines from the top? It’s only by submerging down into the depths that you can number the layers.

“Under the sea, Under the sea, Darling it’s better, Down where it’s wetter, Take it from me.” Me Swimming with Sardines in Thailand. Photo credit: Suzanne Van Der Veeken

This is the beginning of a series of posts called, “Surface Thinkers’ Rx”. I want to give you alternate viewpoints to consider . . . viewpoints that I believe can assist you in understanding not just the topics at hand, but also in understanding understanding. I hope to help you learn how to shift your own camera angle . . . and to swap out lenses on the fly.


Question what you consider to be “obvious” truths. Question in a pure way — not just in a way you are told to question by a group or specific person with an agenda. Otherwise, your “questioning” reverts back to more spoon-fed acceptance of headlines.

Be Curious.

Let yourself find joy in the curiosity you once relished as a child. The curiosity that let you rapidly expand your knowledge and understanding in a way that let’s you survive as an adult. Think of how much knowledge you amassed in such a short amount of time! You became fluent in a foreign language, grasped the concepts of: basic math, social interactions, dexterity, bike-riding, that touching hot shit on a stove can burn you, reading, writing, art, singing, how to maintain a priceless piece of equipment — your human body, and so much more. That is all difficult shit to learn from scratch!! Yet you acquired these capabilities because you were born with a burning craving for deep understanding and mastery. Find that hunger again. Satisfy it for its own sake.

Have faith in the possibility that there is always more to the story than you grasp . . . always more beneath the surface. And remember that this kind of faith is the prerequisite of genius.

Some call it humility.

Put another way, I say hubris is the greatest threat to intellect. Kill your hubris, embrace the depths you do not yet know. Come dive with me, under the sea!

PART 1: There is No Such Thing as Shades of Gray