Can You Think?

Do you let yourself think? Do you actually let yourself think? Perhaps I can ask, do you know how to think? Not just casual thoughts, do you know how to really think?

When was the last time you allowed yourself or even gave yourself the opportunity to engage in deep thought? Sadly enough, for most people, I could pose the question: have you ever thought deeply?

The truth is, we don’t like to think. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel natural. It’s just so easy not to. It’s just so easy to distract ourselves instead. It’s just so easy to have others do the thinking for us. While it may be easy not to, we all need to spend more time in thought. This is where you truly grow and develop yourself.

With running, I always discourage people from listening to music. The usual response is, “But running without music is so boring.” Why is it so boring? Because you don’t know how to think yet. It’s boring because you’re scared of what it requires. It’s boring because you’re required to spend time in your own head and you don’t know how to dig deep into your thoughts yet. Because, again, thinking is hard and it’s much easier to avoid it all together.

Even if you don’t run, when was the last time you went for a car ride with nothing on? No radio. No music. No podcasts. Just you and your thoughts.

At first, thinking is awkward, it really is. It’s kind of like meeting someone new and being forced into conversation, but you don’t know what to talk about yet. In this case, that other person is yourself. You don’t know how to talk to yourself because you don’t truly know yourself yet—that’s why thinking is hard. Just like with meeting someone new, it starts with small talk. You ask easy questions and begin to know that person more. As you ask more questions and get more answers, the conversation can naturally grow and evolve. The same goes with your thinking. It’ll start with small talk at first, but over time, you’ll be capable of engaging in deep and intellectual thoughts. The kind of thoughts that really challenge you to think even harder each time and make you a better person in the end.

We need more people who are able to think, otherwise we’re left with a society that’s merely regurgitating the same information and ideas. How do you really know what you stand for? How do you really know what you believe in? How do you really know what you like or dislike? You can’t truly understand yourself until you learn to spend time in your thoughts.

When you get better at thinking, you get better.

You get better at asking questions.
You get better at developing ideas.
You get better at speaking your ideas.
You get better at challenging conventions.
You get better at being innovative.
You get better at learning.

Deep thinking, and your ability of doing so, is the gatekeeper—this is what separates great from excellent; remarkable from life-changing; noteworthy from momentous. Developing the ability to think deeper inherently puts you at an advantage, for everyone has become comfortable with settling—with having the answers and their thoughts handed to them.

We are in a constant state of influence—that’s inevitable—but now allow yourself to develop by spending time in thought. So I’ll ask you one last time, do you let yourself think? Do you actually let yourself think? Or is your fear of thinking forcing you to seek distraction?