Why Is Deep Thinking Important?
Thinking is the starting point for all non-autonomous actions. Your quantity of valuable thoughts has a direct effect on your quantity of valuable actions. The number of thoughts it takes for a person to take action (action/thought ratio) is immeasurable due to variation, but the two will always be positively correlated (see chart).
Of course, one could conceivably sit in their room and think of ideas all their days without taking action, but that is like planting a seed in concrete. Thinking is not worthwhile unless it leads to purposeful action or a changed mindset (which ultimately results in action).
Ideas! Ideas make the world a fun place to live and thinking is how we generate them. All of the amazing inventions we enjoy today started out as thoughts and then ideas. Persistence is the next step that eventually leads to a breakthrough and a key component of successful thinking.
Thomas Edison said, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is just one more step forward.” Mr. Edison pointed out a very important concept here – it isn’t a one-step process. Thinking involves considering a multitude of options in order to accomplish the task at hand.
Like in Edison’s case, sometimes trial and error is the way to go, but that requires a constant stream of new ideas to try. There is also something else that makes thinking challenging…
Deep Thinking is Work
It’s not just because the infinite number of possible thoughts and ideas can overload your processor (brain). I have heard it said that the typical human will lose focus every 10 seconds. If you decide to think about a single topic, you will need to refocus continually to do it successfully.
This is what makes thinking difficult. You must consciously decide at each 10 second interval whether or not to continue thinking about the topic. If you don’t make a decision, the default decision is to lose your focus. Yes, I literally just had to refocus. If you’re not motivated or interested enough, you will move on to something else.
A great thinking exercise to try: find a peaceful area with no distractions and choose an important topic that you’d like to think about. Bring a time-keeping device and think about that topic for 10 minutes, uninterrupted.
Success will depend on each person, as attention spans are greatly varied. So start out with 10 minutes, see if you can do it, and take it from there. If you fall into the average statistic of losing focus every 10 seconds, you will have successfully refocused 60 times!
You might be surprised at the ideas you come up with and just how difficult it is to focus constantly.
Written in 2009
I can hear the smooth purr of the air conditioner in the silence of my room. I like silence because it is conducive to thinking, and I’m in love with thinking. My thoughts take me to new possibilities. Goals, dreams, and amazing ideas can be formed in a single moment just by deep, focused thinking. Thinking is also how we make these dreams reality.
In August 2008, I left the USA for the first time. I went to Ireland by myself and stayed for 4 days. It was a defining experience for me and the beginning of a dream to travel the world. It was so special because until that point I could only muse passively on the glories of international travel. I was able to visit Ireland because I thought about what I wanted to do and how to do it (research, work, save, etc. all the way up to purchasing a plane ticket and reserving a hostel in Dublin). The dream continued the next year when I spent a month in Germany with two of my closest cousins. It would have been EASY not to think about how it could be done and just assume that I’d go these places someday. Someday is how dreams stay dreams.
All that said, I don’t think enough. More commonly, I’m pouring my time into the trashcan. Sound familiar?
A New Way of Life
What if we thought about who we wanted to be and how to get there? What if we thought of possibilities before we’re hit with the consequences? What if we calculated the outcomes of different lifestyles and thought about our desired outcomes with great persistence?
Too often we drift towards a pre-determined mold laid out for us by society. Society says if you’re in this situation, do this. Deep thinking allows us to choose what situation we’re in in the first place, and then helps us to decide what is truly best for us once we’re there.
As a child, I was put into a school system that did not teach me how to think freely and deeply, but rather to memorize these dates and follow these steps. We are so much more capable than that!
I’m not advocating detailed plans that map out an entire lifetime, for these plans will be shattered once “life happens.” General values, direction, specific goals, well-thought-out lifestyles and diets, and other important things are what I’m speaking of. The more you think about your life, the fewer unpleasant surprises you’ll experience.
Deep thought compels us to be accountable to our values (by uprooting inconsistencies) and propels us towards our dreams. Do not do what the world expects you to do. Do the things that thinking, planning, research, and your own judgment tell you to do. Cut out the distractions for a little while and think about (deep) thinking to see if it is something worth investing your time into.
You already know what I think.