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Some Thoughts on Thinking

“It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” Abraham Harold Maslow 1908 – 1970

Do you Think?  Or do you fantasize, obsess, argue and defend positions?  Or maybe a better question is what’s the ratio of your thinking to all of the other ways you choose to use your mind?

If you’re not getting enough …

…of what you want out of life, or business or even your relationships look to both the “quantity” and the “quality” of your thinking.  Just as I’m always droning on about your collection problems starting with you, I believe most of your problems start with you and that you can think your way both out of most problems and in to many circumstances you desire. 

I remember I was in my late 30’s or early 40’s when I realized I didn’t do much thinking and that in fact I wasn’t very good at it.  Like everyone else there were a lot of words rolling around in my head, lots of obsessing and arguing but not a lot of thinking. That came as a quite a shock to me honestly.  Probably because I’d never really thought about it before!

So how do you “Think Better?”

… Well, you’ve got to do a bit of thinking about thinking.  If you’re reading this from my E-Newsletter you’ll notice I included an article about First Principles thinking and another on Mental Models.  First Principles thinking is one of 109 mental models that have been identified by people smarter and more educated than I am.  Expand the number of mental models you’re able to use and you improve your thinking. 

Let’s try applying First Principles to this concept by asking a question; What is true about thinking?  Here is what I came up with:

  1. Words in your head aren’t necessarily thinking
  2. It requires focus
  3. It requires concentration
  4. I can solve problems by thinking them thru
  5. Thinking is a valuable skill
  6. Thinking is hard but not as hard as you anticipate

Then what? …

…I decided to examine my own thoughts, and when I did I found I spent a lot of time arguing in my head.  Often with people I didn’t know, and would never have a real conversation with.  I’ll bet you believe you don’t do that??  You probably don’t spend 5 min cursing the guy that cut you off on your way home either, or that snippy twit you talked to at the cable company, or the guy you’re planning to ask to … you get my drift I’m sure. 

It took about 3 weeks of checking those thoughts for me to stop doing it.  Every time I found myself having an argument or criticizing someone in my head I stopped myself and redirected my thoughts to something else.  And guess what?  That simple exercise changed my life.  I’m not as ticked off or as easily aggravated… but that’s another post for another day.

You try it.  Watch what you do with your mind for a couple of days, then go to Vienna’s Views and let me know what you noticed. 

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