Friday, 8 March 2013

Bridge the gap between opposites

When Brahms wrote his Academic Festival Overture, which is full of the optimism of youth and new beginnings, he also wrote his darkly turbulent and tormented Tragic Overture. As balance and proportion were very important to Brahms's compositional style, it is not surprising that he did this. Brahms succinctly described the difference in character between the two pieces by saying that "one weeps and the other laughs".

It is very easy to imagine Brahms hard at work on one of these pieces, his thoughts occasionally flitting to the other: dark inspirations originating from bright beginnings and vice versa.

Sometimes our thinking and approach to problems can be limited by our one-sided view of them; we tend to see things as good or bad or right or wrong rather than allowing our thoughts to cross-fertilise with the opposite interpretation or point of view.

The next time you are addressing a difficult situation or problem, allow your mind to bridge the gap between opposites. Ask yourself the following:
  • What is positive about a negative situation?
  • What is negative about of a positive situation?
  • What positive consequences could grow out of a negative situation?
  • What negative consequences could grow out of a positive situation?
  • What is the opposite point of view to your own and what interesting, intriguing and/or useful insights does it provide?

Remember that sometimes opposites, just like salt and pepper or sweet and sour, can complement rather than contradict each other.

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