Things Are Simpler than They Seem (Lateral Thinking)

February 6, 2019

The term “lateral thinking” was coined by the psychologist Edward de Bono to talk about an alternative way of thinking. It consists in getting out of the logical, linear form of reasoning we usually have, so that we can look for original, creative solutions to any problem or situation.

In this article we’ll go over lateral thinking, the logic of mental frameworks, and give you a series of riddles to try and figure out. Will you accept the challenge?

Linear thinking as a routine

We’re all used to logical reasoning. This means thinking in a linear form and solving problems sequentially, going step by step until you solve it. Ever since the time you’re little people teach you that life is made up of complicated puzzles that you have to solve by using your full potential in a world full of mazes.

Obviously life isn’t easy and the pathways of your mind are, most of the time, a jigsaw puzzle you have to learn to put together. Or, other times, to stop trying. We’re all used to trying to find an explanation for everything around us. 

man thinking

In fact, when you find yourself faced with a situation where you don’t have enough information, you’ll fill in all the facts you’re missing based on the way you understand the world. And it will also happen based on the kind of learning you’ve created out of all your experiences.

The truth is that this linear way of thinking can occasionally cause you problems when you aren’t able to look any further. No one ever told you there are more paths than the one that goes in a straight line.  Actually you can go in any direction, and if you do that you’ll also be stimulating your brain.

Awaking lateral thinking

As you can see, logic says that you go from one step to the next. In this way you’ll move closer and closer to the answer. But in lateral thinking you have to abandon the logical process of thinking to solve puzzles that are simpler than they might seem. 

With this new kind of thinking, you should stop thinking in that step-by-step way. Instead, you should think just like the name says: laterally, or sideways. And not all the solutions are as hard to reach as you might think. That is, you think too much about what’s there and not much about what could be there. Now give it a try!

The rules of the game

Now we’re going to suggest a game to boost your cleverness and creativity when it comes to solving problems and using lateral thinking. You just have to read the instructions and then you can get to work:

  • Read the riddles really well.
  • Choose whichever one you like best.
  • DON’T look up any information about how to solve it.
  • If you already knew the solution try to help someone else solve it. But DON’T tell them directly. Help everyone else reach the solution on their own.
  • Have fun, comment, and take part on our social media pages.
doing a puzzle

The man in the elevator

“A man lives on the tenth floor of a building. Every day he takes the elevator down to the bottom floor to go to work or go shopping. When he gets back, he always takes the elevator up to the seventh floor and then takes the stairs the last three floors up to his apartment on the tenth. Why does he do this?”

Death in a field

“A man is lying dead in a field. Next to him there is an unopened package. There are no other creatures in the field. How did he die?”

One clue – the man knew he was going to die as he came near the place.

The man in the bar

“A man walks into a bar and asks the bartender for a glass of water. The bartender bends down to look for something, pulls out a gun, and points it at the man who just asked for water. The man says “thank you” and walks out.


“Anthony and Cleopatra are lying dead on the floor of an Egyptian villa. There is broken glass nearby. The only witness was the guard dog. There are no marks on their bodies and they weren’t poisoned. How did they die?”

The blue-eyed islanders

“There are 100 inhabitants on an island. They all have either blue or brown eyes. They can see everyone else’s eye color, but not their own. They’re not allowed to talk about it and there are no mirrors. And remember, there’s a law that says anyone who finds out they have blue eyes has to leave the island at 8:00 the next morning. All the islanders have the same ability to reason and are all entirely logical.

One day someone comes to visit the island, and while they look at everyone, they say, without pointing at anyone in particular, ‘It’s so great to so at least one other person with blue eyes after so much time at sea!’ What consequences does this comment have for the inhabitants of the island?”

blue eye

Monk on a path

“A monk leaves his monastery at sunrise and walks down a path for three hours up to the peak of a mountain. He stops to rest and sleep, and walks down from the mountain at that same time in the morning to go back to his monastery.

It’s possible that it wouldn’t take the same amount of time to get there as to get back, and makes no difference if he didn’t go the same speed, or how many times he stopped to rest. But the monk passed the same spot on the path at exactly the same time, with one day of difference. Why?”


The man in the elevator

The man is a dwarf. Because he can’t reach the elevator’s button for the 10th floor, he pushes the button for the 7th and then climbs the stairs. On the other hand, he has no problem going down because the button for the bottom floor is closer to him.

Death in a field

The man jumped from a plane, and his parachute failed to open.

The man in the bar

He had hiccups. The barman could tell this from the way he talked, and drew the gun in order to give him a shock. It worked and cured the hiccups, so the man no longer needed the water.


Anthony and Cleopatra are two colorful fish who live in a fish tank, which was smashed by a dog.

The blue-eyed islanders

All the people with blue eyes will leave the island.

If there were only one person with blue eyes, they would know it because the other 99% would have brown eyes, and the person would leave.

If there were two people with blue eyes (A) and (B), the first might think the visitor was talking about the second person, and that only one person had blue eyes. The second person would think the same about the first person. When they see how neither of them leaves the island on the first day, they’d both realize they also have blue eyes, so they’d both have to leave on the second day.

The same thing would happen if there are three (A), (B), and (C). This is because the first person would see how the other two don’t leave the island, so this person must have blue eyes too. That would mean all three would have to leave the third day, after first seeing that the other two didn’t leave on the second day.

And it goes on like that until all the blue-eyed inhabitants leave, however many there are.

The monk on a path

To answer this riddle you have to imagine that there are two monks who leave at the same time from opposite points. If they follow the same path, they’ll have to go by each other at some point…Now it seems obvious, right?

This is all much easier than you might think. The thing is to not let yourself get tripped up by the traps your mind sets, and to start looking from new perspectives…Lateral thinking can help you with that. Now give a new way of thinking a try!