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Cognitive flexibility: the ability to shift a course of thought

Cognitive flexibility allows us to consider the values of others, to adapt in new situations, to respect ideas or ways of thinking different from ours. Therefore, mental flexibility is also closely linked to empathy and our way of interacting in social contexts.

What it is and its benefits

Cognitive flexibility plays an essential role in learning and the ability to solve complex problems. It allows us to select the strategy that we must take to adapt to the different situations we encounter. It helps us to capture information from the environment and respond flexibly by adjusting our behavior to changes and needs in the case. Having excellent mental or cognitive flexibility highlights the following characteristics:

  • Allows adapting quickly to changes or new situations.

  • It helps tolerate changes that can occur when troubleshooting or performing a task. It allows for generating alternatives.

  • Easily make the transition from one activity to another and know how to behave correctly in every situation.

  • It can capture different dimensions of the same reality, looking from different perspectives and set up hidden relationships, and they can easily find multiple solutions to the same problem.

  • People with mental flexibility are more easily able to put themselves in the place of the other (empathy) , and more easily reach collective agreements.

Proper cognitive flexibility allows us to consider other beliefs, other values, ideas, or ways of thinking. It can help us to understand the point of view of others, enhancing other options in addition to their own. Therefore, mental flexibility is also closely related to empathy and our way of social interaction.

How to develop mental elasticity

Feed your desire to grow Curiosity is the most powerful tool we have available to grow. Instead of merely accepting ideas, ask yourself the "why" of things. When you start to question everything you have always taken for granted, you will not only meet new answers, but you will also discover a new world, much bigger than what you knew.

Develop empathy In some cases, likely, you will not agree with the ideas, ways of thinking, and attitudes of others. But instead of rejecting them altogether, try to understand how these ideas came about. If you reject what you do not know or do not like, you will always remain the same person, but if you try to understand the other, you will take another step forward, you will grow a little more.

Accept mistakes Having excellent mental flexibility means not being afraid of making mistakes, it means being willing to seize new opportunities, even if it means making mistakes. It is a matter of understanding life as continuous learning in which every mistake is not a step backward, but a step forward towards our evolution, because it allows you to get rid of old patterns and old-fashioned ways of doing things.

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