I think; Is That All There Is?
So we have spent the past ten days talking about philosophy, the science of – depending on how you define it and there are multiple ways to define it – wisdom or thought. You might be asking yourself “Am I somebody who overthinks?” “Do I ever think at all?” (We all know someone we think that question would characterize, admit it!) And then there is the most important question of all: “Is there anything wrong with thinking?”
In an article published over four years ago for Psychology Today’s website, Ilana Donna Arazie discussed “The Problem with Thinking: How and why to stop the chatter in your head”. In it she mentions the constant questions people ask themselves about every life. “Does this look okay?” “Why didn’t he/she call me back?” “Am I making the wrong decision?”
We will, for the next forty days since there are fifty days in the season known as Eastertide and I am using such seasons as an organizing tool for this site, continue to discuss philosophy. I would be remiss, however, if I did not include the whole picture, as it were, and mention the downside of spending too much time thinking.
Thought is not everything. Wisdom gained is worth very little unless it is applied. A person can be the best in the world but if those talents or skills are kept hidden, then they might as well not exist. Very few religions or spiritualties hold the ability to purport harming one’s fellow man. However, all things must exist in balance. It is the lack of balance that leads to fanaticism. Thinking is great but one must live as well.
Kristina Leonardi is the founder of The Women’s Mosaic, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to providing education, inspiration and motivation for women of every background to express their full power and potential. She explains: “Our guts and hearts are like hard drives, our minds the software. We need to let our centers do the heavy lifting and lead the way. But like any other muscle, you need to exercise love, intuition and trust in yourself on a regular basis. Then, little by little you grow stronger and more confident in order to let that part of you run the show, instead of your brain.”
Leonardi also advocates having balance in one’s life and that includes balancing the process of thinking with living. She encourages doing something physical as well as being creative, especially seeking out creative outlets that involve doing something with the body such as throwing pottery, crochet or knitting, or dancing. Writing is also a great way to get your thoughts out of your head. Play is always a great thing as long as you are really playing. Children and pets are great role models for this. Then there is the admonition to disconnect from the electrical world; turning off televisions and computers (after you’ve finished reading this!) and reach out to nature. Nature is one of the world’ s greatest balancing acts and simply being in the moment in nature can often do more than a year of therapy.
We need to think. Otherwise, we simply lead and will continue to make the same mistakes over and over. Those who do not review their actions and seek change either can for nothing or assume they are an omnipotent presence, a god, and know everything. No one knows everything. Accept it it and move forward in spite of it.
Eckhart Tolle once stated: “Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don’t realize this because almost everybody is suffering from it, so it’s considered normal. This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding that realm of inner stillness that is inseparable from being. It also creates a false mind-made self that casts a shadow of fear and suffering.” What we need, he feels are “smart arguments” rather than useless noise. “All the things that truly matter – beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace – arise from beyond the mind.”
We need to think but we need to live and that means stepping outside our mind, our so-called “comfort zone” to let the world touch us, hurt us, and heal us. Life is not for the weak. It is messy. It is also glorious. So today, turn off whatever device you are reading this on and go walk through a rain puddle. Don’t just cross the street, skip across it. Hold the door open for someone and then smile. None of these things cost any money and they really require very little thinking. We think because we live and it is important to do both. Let someone think you are crazy as they see that smile on your face or watch your celebrate life in a little dance. Think about what you need to get done today and then dance your way through it. After all, the best way to predict the future is to create it.