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This Unusual Habit Can Change Your Life

In 1952, Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, was interviewed by a reporter who asked him, “Doctor, what’s wrong with men today?”

He paused for a moment and responded by saying, “Men simply don’t think!”

He may have said these words almost 70 years ago, but his answer is as relevant as ever in today’s world.

We live in an age of constant stimulation, where most of us will do almost anything to distract ourselves so that we won’t have to be alone with our thoughts, even if only for a few moments.

But perhaps it may be a timeless truth that humans have always been lazy to think for themselves.

As George Bernard Shaw, the famous playwright amusingly remarked, “Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people think they think, and ninety-five percent of the people would rather die than think.”

The danger of not thinking

The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd.” Albert Einstein

Our ability to think is what sets us apart from other species on the planet.

But throughout our lives, all of us are told what to think by everyone else. From a young age, our minds are filled with limiting and fear-based conditioning of society.

One of many bad habits we unconsciously picked up from our schools is to meekly conform and look towards authority figures to tell us what to do and think.

Research indicates that humans flock like sheep and subconsciously follow a minority of individuals. It takes a minority of only five per cent to influence a crowd's direction, and the other 95 per cent follow without realising it.

The danger is that if we don’t think for ourselves, by default, we end up blindly conforming even when it is not in our best interest to do so.

Schedule time to think

When was the last occasion you spent your time for the sole purpose to do nothing but think?

If you are like most people, the majority of the thinking that you do happens when you are engaged in some activity or in between tasks.

We, as a society, are obsessed with doing. As millionaire investor Naval Ravikant puts it eloquently, “People spend too much time doing and not enough time thinking about what they should be doing.

Quality thinking requires time and patience and ideally an environment free of external distractions.

I believe that all of us could massively improve the quality of our lives if we schedule time for purposeful thinking daily or at least a weekly basis.

Ways to think better

Here are some tools that can help you to think better.

1. Journal:

Journaling is the process of putting your thoughts, feelings, ideas and observations on paper.

Some well-known figures who kept a journal to jot down their thoughts include people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Mark Twain, Thomas Alva Edison.

Writing down my thoughts help me to think with more clarity, focus and hold a long train of thought without letting my mind wander off.

2. Use thinking prompts

Thinking prompts are merely questions that can aid you in contemplating a subject.

Here are some thinking prompts you can use,

  • What am I doing/not doing in my life because of the fear of other people’s opinions?

  • Am I spending too much time on activities that are not adding any value to my life?

  • How am I taking care of my physical and mental health every day?

  • What are the three things in my life that matter to me the most? How can I adjust my schedule to spend more time on things that truly matter to me?

3. Mindstorming

Self-development author, Brian Tracy recommends a wonderful thinking exercise he calls Mindstorming to achieve goals and find solutions to problems.

Here’s the process explained in his own words,

  • “You begin the mindstorming process by first getting a clean sheet of paper.

  • At the top of this page you write your goal or problem in the form of a question. The simpler and more specific the question, the better will be the quality of the answers that you generate in response to it.

For example, instead of writing a question like, “How can I make more money?” you would write, “How can I double my income in the next 24 months?”

Once you have written your question at the top of the page, you then discipline yourself to generate at least 20 answers to that question.

No matter how long it takes, especially the first few times you practice this exercise, you must discipline yourself to keep writing until you have at least 20 answers.

Sometimes the 20th answer that you generate will be the breakthrough answer that enables you to save yourself thousands of dollars and many hours of hard work.

Often, your last answer is the inspired idea that changes your life and career.”

Final thoughts

Instead of being caught up in the cycle of constantly doing things, I’d encourage you to carve out some time for contemplation on a daily or at least a weekly basis.

Deep thinking may not bring about immediate answers or always have a positive impact in the short run, but choosing to think purposefully and contemplate could make all the difference in how your life unfolds in the long run.


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