When browsing through website about the topic: thinking, I came across an article How to think deeply, published on the website TheTrumpet.com.
That is just up to my alley, and the writer spoke some very true words: “Superficial, unfocused thinking produces a superficial, unfocused life. We are what we think.” I’m not truly sure that I agree with the first part, because in essence that means that I thereby need to confess that I lead a superficial unfocussed life. But we indeed are what we think. An old Buddha quote.
The author Joel Hilliker really grabs the problem by its horns. Whom did ever teach you how to think high quality thoughts? In my live: no one, I even was born without any instructions on the side! He asks if your brain is skilled in analyzing problems. Hell no, I can get very well distracted by the most tiny things like the ticks of a clock! Then he hands over a simple solution: you need to replace the inferior thoughts with the deeper ones. Yes, I’m all for, but how! The article also is clear on that: to think deeply you need to move those shallow thoughts aside so you can create space for the deep thoughts as your mind cannot switch between the two. Okay, still agreeing, but how!
Well, he does provide a plan for removing barriers that make your thoughts shallow:
- Remove distractions. Okay, out with the ticking clock! And for the sake of being complete: out with tv / mobile phone noises / background music / movies / video games / even quality information like the news can be a distraction if it is not relevant: stick to the essentials.
- Cultivate concentration: thinking is actually a series of associations. Thinking smarter is to set up boundaries so that just a small bandwidth of associations on a topic you do want to think about is coming to mind. And how we do that then: by practice. Concentration is a skill you can learn (so there is hope, I hear myself think!). And how to practice then: to concentrate on what we enjoy and to learn to enjoy on what we need to concentrate on. Hmm, first might be easier than the latter.
- Ruminate good mental food: didn’t see this one coming, but I do find it interesting. Hilliker advocates to populate your mind with greatness by having people in your social group that you admire for their smart thoughts. It rubs off a bit, so to speak. I do have highly intelligent people in my surroundings, so I could try to gain a closer bond with those people for sure. Meet minds and think deeply together – I’m all for. O, and a very good one is in the closure of the ruminate part in the article: read quality and think more! Yes, how often it is that we just read an entire book and when try to explain the plot to a friend can’t even remember the names of the main characters that we must have read dozens of times. Not that the character names were so super important but it’s does showcase how much of the book just flies past the mind without leaving any imprint.
- Beware conformity: in essence if you are a follower you will never have original thoughts of your own. There is a need for independence of thought not to be sidetracked by pragmatic memes.
- Cultivate solitude: embrace private time. It is very big in mindfulness to allocate time-to-self, but there is a grand logic: have you ever tried to get/nurture/finish smart thoughts when partner and spouse are around?
I’m truly liking the article, all thumbs up for Joel Hilliker. I could add to point five that not only solitude must be cultivated, also a thinking cap needs to softly land on your head. Perhaps by winding down doing some yoga, before you want to focus on a topic might be handy.
- Shallow thoughts hinder the presence of deep thoughts. To nurture the presence of deep thoughts eliminate the boundaries that prevent smart thoughts from arising.
- Remove distractions that just result in the most easy habit of your mind: shallow thoughts.
- Cultivate concentration by enjoying topics of interest.
- Ruminate good mental food by truly thinking about the information instead of letting it pass by your brain.
- Beware of conformity as following the masses might not lead to original thoughts.
- Cultivate solitude that increases the chance of following through smart thoughts.