Unlike probability thinking which has an element of uncertainty, possibility thinking infuses one with a positive feeling about life

The famous preacher Robert Schuller often talked about possibility thinking as opposed to probability thinking. He said, if one resorts to possibility thinking, the individual will tend to gauge the outcome in terms of ‘what can be’; while one who is pre-occupied with a probability approach will compel himself/herself to anticipate outcome as ‘what may be’.

The two approaches differ in that possibility thinking equips the individual by infusing his attempt at a task or deed with positivity, while the probability approach resorts to mathematical chance.

In the latter the individual is propelled by logic, while in the former freewill and choice dominate.

When we allow ourselves to look at possibilities, we are enthused by hope, faith and positive anticipation; probability thinking tells us that outcome follows a cause and effect trajectory, so we might as well reconcile ourselves to ‘what might happen’ and await outcome. That we have choice to cause change in attitude and thinking is absent.

Possibility thinking also encourages one to believe that the outcome will be desirable.

The father of two young boys, one who the father felt tended to see the downside only and the other son who always celebrated possibilities, decided to gift each son a present. To the less positive he gave a bicycle and to the one who seemed to be positive he gifted a basket of horse dung. Said the less positive son, “Only this, now I will not get the motor-cycle I so much wanted for Papa has spent his money on getting me a cycle”.

By contrast, said the son who had received the horse dung, “If my father has given me a basketful of horse dung, then surely there must be a horse to follow”.

Possibility thinking returns cheer to our lives.

(The writer is an organisational and behavioural consultant. He can be contacted at ttsrinath@vsnl.net)