You Can’t Solve a Problem Using the Same Kind of Thinking That Created It

What did Einstein mean when he said we need “a new type of thinking”?

Jeff Valdivia
5 min readJun 1, 2022


Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Without a doubt, Einstein changed our world. His revolutionary insights into the nature of the universe propelled physics forward.

But his insights weren’t only scientific. He had a philosophical mind, too.

In 1946, the New York Times quoted Einstein as saying, “A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.”

A commonly expressed paraphrasing of this quote is,

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

How does this apply to you? Just think of the problems in your own life. Does your mind ever run in circles and never get anywhere? Do you ever throw up your hands because you feel like your problems are intractable? Do you feel hopeless about ever resolving them?

Life is tough — it’s so hard. No one has it figured out. You don’t need to add insult to injury by imagining that others somehow see to the “truth” or “essence” of life while you’re just a hot mess.

We’re all hot messes. Some of us are just better at seeing this than others.

Thankfully, life can be easier. And that begins with taking Einstein’s advice — stop trying to solve your problems with the same kind of thinking you used to create them. Of course, at some level, you already know this, but you’re still trapped in a prison of your own thinking.

This article is about how to set yourself free.

Thoughts and concepts

We can so easily become caught up in cycles of thinking that tear us apart.

Can it not sometimes feel like you’re living the same horror movie over and over? You know you’ve been there before but you feel helpless to prevent yourself from going there again? Do you feel the impending doom of that wave about to crash down upon you and threaten to drown you?



Jeff Valdivia

Following my curiosity and hoping it will lead me to wisdom. I write about psychology, meditation, self-development, and spirituality.