Today's Reading


Imagine this: you've got a great idea, and all you hear are the yes-buts. "Yes, but that's been tried before, and it didn't work." "Yes, but shouldn't we just let it sit for a while?" "Yes, but what if it doesn't work..."

All those yes-buts make you feel that every attempt at innovation will be buried in a swampy morass of seemingly sensible objections. And that's exactly how it works: yes-but thinking takes a closed attitude to life, throwing up restrictions and threats like dragons blocking your path. However worthwhile an idea or argument might be, it's met with rigidity, which leads to stagnation.

There's another way: the yes-and attitude. This open-minded perspective emphasizes what can be done, appreciating possibilities. With this attitude we see past the dragons to the path forward. The result? Creativity and innovation.

This book is about the transition from a yes-but to a yes-and way of living; from thinking in terms of problems to thinking in terms of opportunities. When we approach a problem with a yes-and mindset, novel solutions can sometimes be surprisingly easy to discover. Looking at a problem from a new angle, even just a quarter turn, can lead to a big insight, with so little effort. We don't have to fight our problems; we can transform them into opportunities. We can make them our allies.

The art of turning problems into opportunities can be learned. It's a type of psychological jujitsu, a technique that I call "Flip Thinking" (or Omdenken in my native Dutch). Flip thinking not only leads to a solution to an existing problem but, unexpectedly and surprisingly, it can open completely new vistas of possibility. As a caterpillar morphs into a butterfly, a problem is flip-thought into a beautiful new reality. This leads to a surprising paradox: the more problems we confront, the better.

At its core, flip thinking can improve your life, paradoxically enough, not by avoiding your problems, nor denying them by emphasizing only the good like a Pollyanna, but by embracing problems, recognizing and accepting pain, loss, and want. Flip thinking always starts with acknowledging reality. A pessimist is completely indifferent to how much water there is in the glass; he'll still just moan that he'll have to do the dishes again. Why not enjoy the glass of water instead?

I started the concept of flip thinking in the Netherlands, where I live, in 1997. Since then, my team of actors and trainers and I have put on more than 10,000 theatrical, entertaining, and educational workshops on the principles of flip thinking for, altogether, more than 1 million people. Besides performances in the Netherlands, a BritishlAmerican team of actors and trainers performs flip-thinking sessions in Spain, Singapore, Britain, Germany, and France. In total, I have written 12 books about the principle of flip thinking, all of them bestsellers. In the Netherlands alone they have sold more than 1.3 million copies (bear in mind we have a population of only 17.4 million people!). These books have been translated into Italian, Portuguese, Danish, German and—as you are reading right now—English.

The story of flip thinking doesn't end here. It develops, grows, and matures. And I'm proud that you, dear reader, are a part of this journey. Hopefully you'll enjoy this book. Hopefully you'll take much away from it. Above all, I hope you'll come away from reading it with the understanding that problems are nothing more and nothing less than frustration that hasn't found its form yet. Frustration then can be enjoyed once it is flipped and transformed into a new, desirable, sparkling reality.

Berthold Gunster


A few thoughts on how to read this book


I once read that around 64 percent of people regularly read before going to sleep, that the average reading time is 10 minutes, and the average reading pace is around 300 words per minute. This may not be true for every reader, but with these averages in mind I divided this book into chapters of around 3,000 words each, so you can fit in a chapter each night before bed.

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