“Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.” ~ George Bernard Shaw …
By most of our definitions of thinking, George seems to claim a logical contradiction here: how is it possible that the majority of humans do not think but a few times a year when most everything we do requires thought? And yet George is not far from the truth, for true thinking is indeed rare–rather than think on our own, we tend to react with our thoughts; rather than ponder concepts and ideas carefully, we tend to skim over them with our first reactions and not take the time to think our ways through to the core of the matters at hand.
When it comes to deep thinking, most of us barely scratch the surface of even a single topic, much less spread our thoughts out over the breadth of all the subject matter that is available to us. If we were to ask ourselves truthfully, “How often do we deliberately seek to analyze and ruminate on complex subject matter, create or restructure thoughts and materials, or reach value judgements based on our moral principles and divine nature?,” most of us would probably answer with a humbling, “Not enough.” And perhaps that is a symptom of the culture and society that we live in. For many of us, because we have things we would like to be doing, a lot of the tasks and work we commit ourselves to requires little effort. And similarly, most of our relationships with one another are given the minimal amount of effort to maintain them. So when it comes to thinking about things deeply, it really is no surprise that we would instead tend to think about them superficially because there are so many other things we would rather be doing or that need our attention.
Some of this world’s best and brightest individuals are those who are able to spend time in the company of deep thought, who consistently give their undivided attention to learning, studying, understanding, and growing. And although these individuals are willing to put forth the time and effort necessary to think deeply about things, most likely that was not always the case, and was instead an acquired skill that each of us has the ability to learn. But we have to be willing to make the time in our busy schedules to truly exercise our minds, and make the effort to do so clearly and fully by removing outside noises and silencing the multitudes of other thoughts racing through our minds as we go about our days–something that can add a beautiful dimension to our lives and really enrich who we are.
Take some time today to focus your attention on one thing, considering it from different angles and perspectives.
Questions to consider:
How would you define truly thinking? How often do you participate in that activity?
Why do we tend to get caught up in our racing thoughts, unable to slow them down or control them?
What are some ways that you can practice thinking at a different level than you think now?
For further thought:
“Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” ~ Thomas A. Edison, The Diary and Sundry Observations of Thomas Alva Edison