Thinking And Stress: Are You A One-Way Thinker?

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Woman negative thoughts

I believe that thinking and stress are strongly related. Many of my previous posts on this blog fit with that theme.  But most of these were discussions about how specific thoughts—mostly erroneous or misleading ones—can cause us to experience problems in life and hence stress.

This week, I’d like to explore a much broader perspective on thinking and stress. I’d like to focus on thinking styles and not just on the styles themselves, but rather on how many thinking styles you employ in your daily life.

Styles Of Thinking

What prompted me to choose this topic was a recent book I read called The Art Of Thinking (formerly Styles of Thinking) by Allen Harrison and Robert Bramson.

Based on years of extensive research, interviewing, and testing, the authors of this book determined that there are five primary styles of thinking:

  • The Synthesist: Sees likeness in apparent opposites; interested in change.
  • The Idealist: Welcomes a broad range of views; seeks ideal solutions.
  • The Pragmatist: Seeks shortest route to payoff; “Whatever works.”
  • The Analyst: Seeks the “one best way;” interested in data-driven, scientific solutions.
  • The Realist: Relies on mix of facts and expert opinions; interested in concrete results.

They go into detailed descriptions of each style, explaining how each determines how you typically approach situations, ask questions, make decisions and try to solve problems.  They also point out that every individual can have components of all five styles but that usually one or two predominate.  They also define the characteristics and behavioral tendencies of the most common combinations of thinking styles such as Synthetist/Idealist, Analyst/Realist, Pragmatist/Idealist, etc. And they also found in their research that in rare instances (only 2% of people they tested) individuals scored high in three different thinking styles.

Thinking Styles And Stress

The authors of this book also describe how each thinking style has positive and negative consequences.  They also point out how certain styles can produce conflicts and stress in our personal and work relationships, especially when they clash with the preferred thinking styles of others.  And they also mention that people who are comfortable with more than one thinking style are usually much more adaptive, flexible and successful.

This fits with my own observations that the more rigid and fixated people are in just one way of thinking, the more problems, conflicts, and stress they seem to have. So without having to know all the details of the five styles of thinking, let me ask you the following questions:

  • Are you a one-way thinker?
  • Are you a two-way thinker?
  • Or are you a rare three-way thinker

These are the questions I invite you to ask yourself this week, and in my next two posts I’ll try to share some ways to figure out which you are.

Note: For a full list of all of my Kindle books about stress, click on this link:






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