Our Better Thinking

Del Close, one of the grandfathers of modern improv, told people to wait for their third thought.

The idea, in my rough rehashing, is that our first thought is automatic and uncreative. The second thought might be a bit fresher. But the third thought is likely to be original. And - this is Caitie here, not Mr. Close - perhaps original before we tip into overthinking and self-consciousness.

Taken off the improv stage and onto the sidewalks of our daily lives, it can shake loose new thinking. The third thought drives us out past our usual routes and onto less-trodden roads.

When deciding where to go for breakfast, we could go to that diner we always go to. Then there’s that pancake house Alice recommended - wait! What about that new crepe place you read about?

I’ve got a sticky work situation. I could send off a passive-aggressive email and hope he reads the subtext. I could just not respond. Or I could call him and see if we could talk through it.

The third thought makes no promises of greatness. But it opens our mental landscape wider, gives us more play space. And reminds us we have more options than our first thought alone would suggest.

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