“Your greatest need is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters your mind.
You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day.
This is a power you can cultivate.
If you want to control things in your life, work on controlling your mind. In most cases, that’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”
So. Controlling things <shit>, in general, in Life, in business and, well, in everywhere I imagine, is possibly the least possible objective of all.
Yet. In some form or fashion we attempt again and again to gain & maintain some control over all the shit we are faced with day in & day out. Pragmatically this is our attempt to offer some sanity to what can seem like a fairly insanely chaotic life.
All that said. Control, for the most part, is an illusion. It is an attractive illusion, but an illusion nonetheless.
But. As the world swirls around you like a hurricane I would suggest the one thing you can control is your mind and what you think. It ain’t easy, but it is doable.
Control when you think.
Not everything takes a shitload of thinking. This is my way of suggesting overthinking is a bad thing. Uhm. So is underthinking. Controlling when you think is about “thinking just enough” – not over or under – when faced with something. Some would call this ‘maximizing efficient thinking.’ I would simply call it learning how to not overthink or underthink something. This comes naturally to an incredibly small % of people, let’s make up a number, less than 5% of people. Haggle with that number of you would like but I offer it to make the point that the majority of people who say “I am a good thinker” <with regard to over & underthinking> are probably not.
You have to learn how to do this. My guess is even if you are a great learner no one truly becomes an expert at this.
Control how you think.
Our minds are often like people viewing an all-you-can-eat buffet table … we will inevitably gravitate to either the desserts or the prime rib. We don’t focus on the most healthy and less glamorous stuff on the table. This means you have to control not only your thoughts, but also how you think.
You have to sift through what appears attractive versus what may actually be more healthy <the ‘non-rubbish’ as it were> in order to most effectively meet the needs of the thought moment. By the way. Please note I purposefully chose effective and not efficient. ‘When you think’ is about efficiency and ‘how you think’ is about effectiveness. This is a focus aspect of thinking. Shiny objects are shiny objects and tasty indulgent desserts are tasty indulgent desserts.
You have to learn to do this. Some people are actually very good at this. They have a knack for viewing everything all at once and have an ability to discern the less important from the most important without being distracted by shiny and tasty things. please note “some.” Not a lot. Not many. Some. You can learn to be better at this but unless you have the innate instincts you will just be good at it and not great at it.
Control how you select your thoughts.
Ah. Once you have focused you have to select some thoughts to craft your decision, choice & conclusion. This point kind of circles back to underthinking & overthinking. If you suck at controlling how you select thoughts, you will invariably end up mired in overthinking shit <because you chose the wrong things and got bogged down in a less-than-conclusive spot> or underthinking shit <because you found an attractive thought which seemingly, in some linear way, suggested “that’s it!”>.
We all have a rolodex of thoughts in our minds that we have accumulated over time through whatever experiences we have had. Inevitably the mind, in its wily way, flips through it for you and shoves a thought or two to the forefront – immediately. Some people call this ‘instincts.’ I call it dangerous.
The subconscious can be wrong as often as it is right. Unfortunately you have to force thinking at this stage. Dive a little deeper than your initial “oh, that’s it.” This is absolutely learnable. Unfortunately today’s world doesn’t exactly encourage us to force thinking and learn to do this. We encourage instincts & speed above all.
That is unfortunate.
That is dangerous.
That is unlearnable <you can unlearn this> … and controlling how you select your thoughts IS learnable.
Disconnecting. It would seem fairly obvious that if you want to increase control you would decrease distractions. And, in general, that is a fairly safe formula.
But, I admit, I am not a disconnecting <from twitter, facebook, social media, internet … any escapism > fan. I am not because, if you buy into what I shared above, that is simply avoiding some possibly valuable inputs into your thinking for the sake of, well, thinking. It seems to me that controlling my own mind has less to do with managing external stimuli and more to do with HOW I manage incoming external stimuli.
Just to finish this whole thought. I do believe we spend far too much time talking about distractions and how smartphones are decreasing attention spans and how the external world is killing true thinking. The only thing killing true thinking is us … people … the individual and how the individual decides, or doesn’t decide, how to think.
I imagine I am talking about personal responsibility in some form or fashion. In a world in which we do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time blaming a whole bunch of shit on someone other than ourselves it really does seem like we should spend more time talking about how we can assume more responsibility for how we think, what we think and learning to think.
But that’s me.