Alter your thinking about thinking. Sometimes sitting with a question can expand your mind without always needing to find an answer.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Eugene Lagunov
A powerful question can act like a mind-altering substance. It can be a catalyst to help fire previously underused neurons and emit floods of neurotransmitters to help us think new thoughts.
Modifying our thinking on our own can be difficult. We are constantly bathing our minds with many of the same messages, 24/7. Consider relating this idea to Newton’s Law of Inertia which states:
“Every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.”
What are some ways you can alter your current thinking?
What are some internal and external forces that can support you to change your life for the better?
What questions can you sit with that may help you in this effort?
Your mind is like a bookshelf. You can browse the titles without opening them all.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Patel Czerwinski
What’s on your mind these days?
How many open tabs, apps, and pages have some or most of your attention? How does jumping from one thing to another at the speed of thought make you feel?
When was the last time you visited an actual book store or library? What was it like to browse through the shelves at a leisurely pace?
How many books did you select and actually open to see if the contents were worth a longer look?
How would patiently browsing through the bookshelf of your mind help you be far more discerning with what you let into the library of your life?
“He never chooses an opinion, he just wears whatever happens to be in style.”
—Leo Tolstoy, 19th Century Russian, regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time
Image from Unsplash by Hermes Rivera
Wendy and I recently saw the film AIR — the story of how Nike pursued Michael Jordan to wear their basketball shoes.
One of the companies also competing for this sponsorship opportunity was Converse. At Creighton Elementary in the sixties and early seventies, having a pair of Chuck Taylors was a must. Any alternative sneakers were called Bo-Bo’s and this meant certain school yard ridicule and razzing.
To what degree can you relate to similar types of peer pressure and the need to conform? How does this influence your thoughts, beliefs, and social norms? Where do you find yourself going along to get along?
Where and how did you develop your current thinking about life?
How often do you stick with popular opinion and what’s in style?
Where do you feel the tug to go in another direction and still hesitate?
“Your thoughts are bubbles waiting to be popped.”
—Jon Kabat-Zinn, American professor emeritus of medicine
Image from Unsplash by Alex Alvarez
The other day I was refilling a soap dispenser at the kitchen sink. While pouring the liquid soap carefully into the opening a bubble formed, creating a dome-shaped barrier which caused the soap to spill over the counter. Until this bubble popped my efforts to continue filling the dispenser were thwarted. This happened a few times and given my level of impatience, I used my finger to pop these bubbles to get on with my task.
This routine chore got me thinking about how I used to read the comic strips in the Sunday paper, or eat a piece of Bubble Yum gum in my youth. How are your thoughts like bubbles of awareness? How long do these bubbles last and guide you successfully through your days?
How aware are you of your inner voice? How many of your thoughts bubble up without your awareness? Where would greater mindfulness help you sustain the bubbles you want and pop the ones that don’t serve your best intentions?
“Worry compounds the futility of being trapped on a dead-end street. Thinking opens up new avenues.”
—Cullen Hightower, American quip writer
Image from Unsplash by Yellow I’m Nik
Over the past several weeks I’ve become increasingly aware and sensitive to the worries, complaints, and repeating gossip in the people around me. I am sure I must participate at some level, but I can’t stop wishing others would cease and desist with these ever-looping, dead-end conversations.
I wish I had a magic wand to shift other’s perspectives to open up new avenues to more empowering and productive paths in their discussions.
What are some of your best approaches when you and others in your communities are trapped on the dead-end streets of worry? What can you do to open yourself and others up to new avenues of thinking?
“If your mind were a suitcase and could only hold five things, what would they be?”
Image from Unsplash by Amy Shamblen
About 10 years ago we bought a set of luggage from a local warehouse store. It was a good value, the right color and the set of three pieces conveniently fit inside one another for easy storage. This was actually a second set and we justified it because we packed heavy for some longer trips to address all contingencies, and our desire to not use unfamiliar laundry facilities.
Prior to our recent move from Michigan to Pennsylvania we amusingly donated more than two thirds of our luggage and about a third of our possessions, realizing that traveling lighter had many advantages.
Keeping our most essential items was a step in the right direction to reduce both our physical and mental loads.
What size mental suitcase are you carrying around? What are the five most important things packed inside? A small backpack may actually be all you need.
“To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing.”
—Eva Young, M.D. Orthopedic Physician
Image from Unsplash by Jason Strull
How familiar are you with the concept of BE, DO, HAVE?
One way to describe this idea might sound like: in order to HAVE the life you desire you must DO the things that are consistent with your vision, values and BEINGNESS.
Other examples of this could be wanting to be healthy and fit without the proper nutrition, exercise, and rest, or wanting to move up in your career without doing the hard work to earn your advancement.
Where are you procrastinating and still thinking about what you most want in your life? What must you begin doing today to not have this habit become your undoing?
”It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life, it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power!”
—Robert Kiyosaki, American author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Image from Unsplash by magnet.me
Thoughts become things. In a typical day, we actually use our inner voices far more than our external ones.
We are constantly having what Susan Scott describes in her book, Fierce Conversations, as versations — which is simply a conversation with ourselves.
The power of bathing in our own thoughts is a form of leadership where we repeatedly speak about our reality and our vision for the future. This repetition carves deep grooves in our conscious and unconscious minds, which can and often do lead to behaviors that determine our lives.
Notice your inner voice whispering to you throughout the day. What is it saying?
Is this voice positive and affirming or negative and judgmental?
How can and will you use the power of versations to enhance your life?
“Losses loom larger than gain.”
Image from Amazon
I have become a consistent meditator. This daily mindfulness practice has had me thinking a lot about my own thinking and how it influences my experience of life.
Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking Fast and Slow fit nicely with this exploration.
Throughout my professional life, I have consistently had a sales role, or at least a position that required persuasion or influence. On many occasions, I noticed that people tend to be pain-adverse rather than pleasure seekers. It seemed that avoiding loss influences our choices more than the potential upside of a particular decision.
What has been your experience?
Observe both your fast and slow thinking on choices and decisions you make today.
Which way of thinking serves you best and offers fewer losses and more gains in your life?
“Dialogue is balancing advocacy with inquiry.”
Image from Unsplash by Priscilla Du Preez
In his book, Dialogue: The Art of Thinking Together, William Isaac describes this critical skill as the intention to reach new levels of mutual understanding.
Doing so, he indicates we can form a totally new basis from which to think and act.
He further states that this capacity for talking together constitutes the foundation for democracy.
Where are you observing and participating in true dialogue in your various communities?
How could a better balance between advocacy and inquiry improve communities throughout the world?