Thoughts about thoughts

January 6, 2016 by Joshua
in Awareness, Perception

When you think, do you consciously decide what to think? I think most people do.

But if you pay attention very closely to your thoughts, do you notice different parts of your mind working differently? I mention this because there seems to me to be a part of the mind that generates thoughts and another part that observes the thoughts. The part generating the thoughts seems to work on its own. Like breathing, if you choose to control it you can, but most of the time it works by itself. The part that observes is the part that feels like yourself.

When you work on influencing and motivating yourself and others, as leaders do, how our thoughts work matters. The more automatic they are, reacting to your environment and beliefs, the more important the environment and beliefs of the people you want to motivate and influence, and the less important things like willpower, determination, and grit. Iron willpower is great, but it fades, while environment and beliefs endure.

In other words, if you want to get work done, create an environment conducive to work free from distraction. If you want to lose weight, create an environment free of empty calories. If you want your teammates or people who report to you to work more effectively, pay attention more to their environments and beliefs than on just telling them what to do.

Anyway, if you haven’t tried before, try relaxing, free from distraction, and pay attention to your thoughts. You don’t have to try to think about anything in particular. You’ll notice your thoughts ambling on their own, whether you want them to or not. See if you sense one part of your mind creating the thoughts and another part observing them.

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