Sunday, June 27, 2010

On Thinking

I was writing in my journal today, some musings about perspective and how to approach life. Yes, very vague I know. When I finished, I said to myself, “I like to think.” Then I immediately thought of people who would say they don’t like thinking, or “think too much”. I know several people who have trouble getting to sleep at night because they have too many things on their minds. Yet I find thinking to be very relaxing and enjoyable. So, let’s ask the question, what is thinking, and why would some people dislike it and others enjoy it?

At its most basic definition, thinking is the brain processing information. Feeling hungry, making decisions, and watching a movie are all forms of thinking. The verb “think” can encompass so many actions by the brain. Worrying is not the same as pondering, and imagining is not the same as deducing. So those who don’t like to think, maybe you and I are doing different kinds of thinking?

In school, the type of thinking most commonly seen is deduction. We’re taught logic, to take varying items of information and come to conclusions based on what was presented. Yet, I don’t find this type of thinking to be that enjoyable, and while I’ll admit I know many people who love to reason, I find it stiff and boring. So, in this capacity, I do not like to think.

Then there is imagining. When we imagine, we picture situations without foundation in reality. This is completely different from reasoning, which is based in reality. Imagination is anything but. It can be something as light as fantasizing about a new car, to a fantastic daydream on an alien planet or a mythic land. In this capacity, I like to think.

The worst kind of thinking is worrying, constantly relaying unpleasant thoughts and information through our minds. This is why I believe some people don’t like to think. Their minds insist on constantly thinking unpleasant thoughts and remind them of things they dislike, and yet worrying offers no solutions to these problems, only reminders of them. In this capacity, I do not like to think.

Lastly, I want to talk about pondering. It’s like a Captain Planet combination of these previous three: it has the flexibility of imagination, the deductive power or reasoning, and the power to solve what we worry about. Pondering is the reflection of how things are, but at the same time, we apply the whimsy and possibility of imagination to our reality. Pondering overcomes problems, we think of new ways to look at the problems we face, and find hope where there once was despair. This is the kind of thinking that I love to do.

The next time you face a problem, remember there are different ways to think about it. Instead of worrying about it, try pondering instead. Think of new ways to overcome the mountain, think of new opportunities you didn’t notice before, just think.

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