Around the World in Words: Malta

Although I’m not particularly fond of Maltese poodles, they are the first thing that come to mind when thinking about Malta. And there are many claims that they do originate from this Mediterranean nation. Other than that, I know next to nothing about it.

Six Thinking Hats, by the Maltese author, physician, philosopher, and psychologist Edward de Bono, was a book I found in a restaurant where I have breakfast almost every week. Throughout the restaurant you will find books which you can take home, in exchange for a donation to their charity tins.

If you’ve ever heard the expression “put on your thinking caps”, a simplified explanation of de Bono’s book could be summed up with that phrase. His thinking hats are essentially these metaphorical thinking caps. De Bono has six, each with a different colour, and each representing a different frame of mind.

Human thought processes and emotions are far more complex and can’t be reduced to six emotions or angles; but de Bono’s concept is worth trying out, especially to encourage a more positive outlook, instead of defaulting to the negative consequence of every idea or decision. And de Bono does make concessions, that our thought processes are not as simplistic as six different emotions engaged in isolation.

De Bono is also known as the originator of the term lateral thinking, something we probably apply more often than we realise, but aren’t always consciously aware of using. It’s something I only became explicitly aware of in primary school. In my English classes, one thing we dreaded more than anything else was unprepared speeches. These usually consisted of receiving a theme or even a mere word, about which you were expected to cobble together some kind of coherent speech with minimal preparation.

For one such speech I received the word “stars”. With today’s obsession in finding our 15 minutes, especially through the easily accessible means of reality TV and social media, we might more quickly equate stars with celebrities; but back then you thought first of the pinpricks of light in a dark sky. But what did I know about these stars, besides the fact that they come out at night?

However, having grown up obsessed with models like Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer, and actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, I quickly realised I could talk about those that sparkled in the night sky as well as those that shone in front of the camera. After delivering my speech, my English teacher praised my application of lateral thinking.

De Bono might say I juggled a few thinking hats in order to create my speech, just as I applied his thinking hats here to contemplate what I could possibly write about Malta. I’ve still much to learn about the country, but at least one of its writers inspired me to write a whole post. Some might see this as applying lateral thinking, others might call it “going off on a tangent”. I guess it just depends which hat you’re wearing.

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