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5 Reasons for Us to Stop Thinking

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5 Reasons for Us to Stop Thinking

Everyone has an opinion in today’s tightly connected, always-moving, overloaded and uncertain world. How do people get their opinions? By thinking—at least a little bit. Walk up to just about anyone on the street, ask them about a recent public event, and they’re likely to have some thoughts already formed about the topic. We all develop opinions because we all have individual lives, and nearly everyone likes to shape their opinion to fit who they already are.

We also want to live a certain type of life, and our opinions blend into our future goals. In order to plan a goal, some thinking is required, because a fulfilling goal will not simply achieve itself. What I’m here to challenge, however, is the notion that thinking too much or too often can actually become a hindrance. As someone who loves thinking, this is strange for me to hear and stranger still for me to write, but it’s a concept we can all benefit from. Prioritizing implementation over thinking can yield incredible results.

1. Don’t think. Listen!

Listening is an incredibly underrated and rarely experienced state (or action) in today’s societies. People are working more hours now than throughout most of human history (primal humans engaged in recreational socialization for roughly six hours every day). Sadly, we’re seeing the effects of this. It’s commonplace now to see restaurants packed to the brim from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. without a single person engaged in peaceful reflection.

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The catch here is not to think too much about when, where or how to listen, but simply to listen. Think just long enough to find a time when you can listen intently, then listen. Pay attention to a river, creek or lakeside. Listen to birds chirping early in the morning. Listen to the far-off hum of cars late at night. Or, simply listen to silence. There’s so much peace and vitality to be gained in taking time to listen.

2. Don’t think. Feel.

When is the last time you thought about what you want to do with your life over the next 2-5 years? Was it during your first job? Back in college? Perhaps all the way back in high school? Whenever you did your most recent deep contemplations about life, you may not have gotten the results you wanted. You may have accepted a job that hasn’t truly fulfilled you, or perhaps you’re still on the path to the job you want.

Before you think too much about it, though, ask yourself this: “Am I really feeling out what I want to do?” This may sound like a foolish question on the surface, but in all reality, the best results in life come from emotionally convicted decisions. It takes guts to face your true feelings about your future and come out with a decision you’re set on. So, do yourself a favor and feel your way through life’s current questions.

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3. Don’t think. Observe.

Closely related to listening is observation. In fact, people who are skilled with one are typically skilled with both. They’re so closely tied to each other that you can most often do them simultaneously. They provide you with the power to see and gather things you couldn’t before.

A business owner can think he knows what his customers want, but he won’t really know until he takes enough time to watch and listen to them as they mill about a store, commenting on likes and dislikes. A dad who has been away serving the army can think he knows who his daughter has become, but he won’t really know until he’s back home, watching her interact with the whole family again. An individual can think they know what the solution is to a problem, but they won’t really know until they spend enough time in the according scenario to gather enough information.

Observation is one of the most powerful skills you can obtain, second only to listening. Rather than automatically assuming you know the answer to something, take two hours (or more, if you want) to observe the appropriate situation. This way, you’ll be far more familiar with the people involved and the best way to get a solution going.

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4. Don’t think. Rest.

Rest is a gift that most people desperately need and want. The ragged single mother, the overworked college student, the melancholy grandfather, the hyperactive businessman, the nightclub owner, the schedule-packed grade-schooler and everyone in-between. Everyone needs rest now and then; it’s literally impossible to lead a healthy life without it. The benefits of proper sleep and rest have been long touted, so anyone who avoids these recommendations does so at their own peril.

Before your next day, it’s all too tempting to think about what you need to accomplish and in what order. We can quite honestly think ourselves sick if we think too much about what needs to be done. As the great writer Sydney J. Harris once said, “The best time to rest is when you don’t have time for it”.

5. Don’t think. Believe.

Just like opinions, everyone has beliefs on various subjects. Some people have limiting beliefs, other people have empowering beliefs. Regardless of where you stand on a given spectrum, your beliefs shape the actions you’ll take.

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While this post is not predominantly about action or how to achieve something, it’s challenging to argue the premise that one’s preconceptions and inherent notions about life (and themselves) are directly related to their outcomes.

This is why shaping and then acting on the beliefs you already hold is so critical. A belief can only remain a belief if it is tested and holds true. For example, someone could believe the ocean is red, but when they see the ocean, their belief is most likely to be changed.

What does this have to do with the subheading, though? The key is to strengthen the beliefs you already have. In this case, thinking and believing aren’t necessarily worlds apart, but you have to know what you believe—and then believe with conviction—before you can act.

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These are five ways you can harness the power of putting different mindsets into practice. This week, rather than thinking about something too much, use one of these prompts to change how you’d approach a situation, and watch how your results transform.

Featured photo credit: Ponder by AleXander Agopian via Flickr via flickr.com

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Brad Johnson

Top 5 Kindle Author | Author of 10 Books

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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