Video: Why Black & White Thinking Can Be So Hard To Kick“Why do we park in a driveway, but drive on a parkway?” my third grade teacher, Mrs. O’Malley, once asked during an English lesson.

It’s a question that stumped, amused, and bewildered me and my fellow nine-year-old classmates.

We furrowed our eyebrows, but couldn’t answer the question. Was there an answer to this question? Was it a riddle? But wait, even if it were a riddle, can it be more than that? Where do words come from, anyway? And who gets to decide what they mean?

“English is a funny language,” was all Mrs. O’Malley had to say in response to our wide eyes.

And the English language continues to fascinate me now as a adult. Words often work for us — we employ them as tools that aid in passing along a message.

But words can work against us, too — and they can prevent us from seeing the world through an accurate lens:

Are you a black-and-white thinker like I am? How do you “catch” yourself in the moment when you’re thinking in extremes?