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5 Reasons for Us to Stop Thinking

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 July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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