To understand inclusive thinking, it's important to understand the words separately. Inclusive pertains to everything and is related closely to the word "include." Thinking is the act of creating thoughts or dwelling on a subject for a period of time. Thus, when you combine the two, it creates the idea of thinking of everything.

Inclusive Thinking in Making Choices

To think inclusively means to consider all possible outcomes to an action. If you drink this expired milk, what are the possible outcomes and what benefit could come from doing so? If you accept this job, how will that affect the place you currently work, the people you will be leaving behind and other factors? Inclusive thinking means considering all possibilities before taking action.

Inclusive Thinking in Education

Inclusive education became popular in the early 2000s, as education desperately needed an overhaul. Inclusive education means to include not only every child in the educational process but every resource at the teacher's disposal. For instance, a teacher will take her kids outside during windy day to demonstrate how a wind vane works. The teacher might have the students each draw a picture of an item that begins with a different letter of the alphabet and then post them on the walls as a constant reminder of different vocabulary. In an inclusive classroom, the imagination of the children is used effectively for educational purposes. Inclusive thinking has also been used a lot more in special education as a tool for focusing the students and helping them feel included (especially in classes where they might not be separated based on their disability).

Inclusive Thinking in Relationships

Many of the conflicts that may occur in a romantic relationship or in the social relationship of two friends could be prevented by inclusive thinking. The major factor in any argument is the unwillingness of either party to consider the other person's point of view. Rarely does anyone go into a fight believing he is wrong. Thus, inclusive thinking can be used by you to consider not only your perspective but the points of view of the person you're fighting with and the people around who have an impartial view of the situation. In romantic relationships specifically, inclusive thinking avoids making many irrational decisions, like moving in together, getting engaged, getting married and getting divorced. By using inclusive thinking, you will use your partner's perspective to work through the right course of action. Also, you will consider all possible outcomes before acting.

Inclusive Thinking and Eastern Religion

Much of the inclusive thinking of the 2000s must be attributed to the growing popularity of Eastern religion during this time. Western religion and logic dictated that one point of view must be true, absolutely. With scientific advances that are constantly proving old theorems incorrect and disillusionment with some western religious organizations, curiosity about inclusive thinking has grown. Inclusive thinking, in this area means accepting that your perspective on anything (science, religion, favorite pizza topping) is limited and needs to be broadened. This does not mean denying gravity, your religious distinction or pepperoni. It simply means joining the global discussion with an open mind and the principles of inclusive thinking.

Over-Inclusive Thinking

According to Reid Hastie and Robyn Dawes in their book, "Rational Choice in an Uncertain World," they outline the possibility of over-inclusive thinking. Their scenario involves a ski trip that goes awry. In this hypothetical, a couple has paid $90 to ski but find "it's cold, it's icy, and several of the best ski lifts are not operating because of the wind." They want to leave at first thought, because they believe that they'll have more fun at home. But inclusive thinking comes into play, and they start to consider the cost of skiing. They decide to stay and ski because they don't want to lose the money. Their initial exclusive thought was to go home, but when they inclusively thought about the money involved, they chose to have a rotten afternoon, instead of going home.

Basic Inclusive Thinking

Inclusive thinking at its core is the act of considering all the information about a specific action or topic before making a decision about it. In fact, inclusive thinking may not even allow you to come to a decision, as there's always more information to be contemplated. As a basis for making decisions, inclusive thinking can be helpful in avoiding mistakes. However, be wary of relying too heavily on inclusive thinking, or you might find yourself over-thinking and never acting.