Thinking. It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure if you asked anyone to explain what it actually was, they’d have a fairly hard time doing so (even Wikipedia doesn’t know – I checked). Apparently, it’s got something to do with ideas, and it’s a thing that we do to ‘organise’ them. Unfortunately, it can also have nothing to do with ideas that we choose, and it also happens without us trying to do it at all. Which doesn’t sound very ‘organised’ at all. In fact it sounds more than just a wee bit scary.
When was the last time someone asked you to ‘have a think’ about something? Or the last time you encountered something new and confusing and had to ‘give it some thought’ to get your head around it? What did you do? For me, my ‘thinking’ starts with tilting my head from its listening/reading pose – leaning downwards to the left (for which there may be some mad biological reason beyond my understanding) – to more upright and to the right whilst I bite my tongue and lift my eyes upwards and to the right. And that’s where my definite understanding of what my ‘thinking’ looks like stops; the important stuff that actually happens on the inside is beyond the realms of accurate description. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth... thinking about.
Have a go – define what you think ‘thinking’ is. Or even just get someone to describe your ‘thinking’ face to you – it’s an interesting exercise in self-awareness.
Mindfulness. It’s a word that’s being doing the rounds an awful lot in the self-help circles of late. For some, it seems to be some westernized translation of eastern meditation – something akin to Zen in the hustle-bustle of our daily Facestagram lives. For others, it’s colouring-in by candlelight, trying to absorb the scented aura of your 30 quid blendable crayons. After much reading, I’d like to suggest a really boring and literal interpretation of it. We’re all aware of what it means to do something ‘mindlessly’ – to not really pay attention, to not focus, to not care, to not give it much thought (eek! See above^). So, by ‘negative definition’ – it’s a thing, honest – to do something ‘mindfully’ should surely mean to pay attention to it, to focus, to care, to give it some thought (whatever that may mean to you). You know, like reading a book. Without having music on. Or watching a film. Without checking your phone.
I’m not sure I have too much to say about this that doesn’t go beyond what I would call ‘common sense’. But, then again, I’m not sure my definition of this is the same as everyone (anyone?) else’s. I have a personal anecdote which I like about this. A colleague once told me how envious she was of people who had their life in such good order that they could find time to cycle, to run, to row – whatever their ‘thing’ was that gave them some ‘me’ time away from whatever their busy lives entailed. I remember having a wee chuckle at my own response to this (whilst unflatteringly clad as a MAMMIL):
‘I don’t do this because my life is in order – this is the thing that keeps my life in order’
So, self care? Do stuff that keeps you right. Fit it into your day. If you can’t fit a bit of you-time in somewhere, get creative. Or change what your day looks like. You matter.
Doing loads of stuff at the same time? Fine if it’s a big pile of mindless^ stuff.
Trying to do important stuff at the same time? Probably deserves a bit of mindfulness.
Managing my Thoughts.
Yup. Much required. But only for largely new stuff. My life is, generally, pleasingly predictable.
My answer to ‘What is Thinking?’
Perception. Empathy. Memory. Knowledge. Hypothesising. Considering Consequences. Choosing.