Deep Thinking Can Change Your Life

Thinking: the talking of the soul with itself.
Plato

brainWe all think, but not all of us think deeply, which is thinking beyond what your mind defaults to. This is a problem. Can you guess why?

Deep thinking is how we increase our number of valuable and useful thoughts. Your quantity of valuable thoughts has a direct effect on your quantity of valuable actions. And great lives are made by taking valuable action.

But the number one reason that people don’t think hard is because it is hard.

Deep Thinking is Work

It’s not just because the infinite number of possible thoughts and ideas can overload your processor (i.e. 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 alert, 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.

A Toast To Ireland :-)

This is a toast to Dublin, Ireland on the top (7th) floor of the Guinness Brewery. For an entry fee, guests are able to tour the Brewery and see how the famous beer is made. Once they reach the top, they are served a complimentary Guinness from the tap with a 360 degree view of the city.

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 compared them to our desired outcomes? What if we did it all with great persistence?

This as a life philosophy really isn’t that hard…it merely requires focused, disciplined thinking. It applies to all of life: relationships, dreams, values, careers, health, and major decisions.

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.

About the Author

I'm lazy, but you can call me Stephen. When you're as lazy as I am, you need superior strategies to live well. My strategies are so effective that I'm productive every single day. As the world tries to figure out how to always stay motivated, I create strategies that don't require it.

Andrew Pedning

Little known fact – sguise is, in fact, a Squirrel.

I just want to say that this post, your Ireland/Germany adventures, and a blog from another photographer friend of mine, have all come together to change my life. No small feat for a cynic of my extraordinary magnitude.

sguise

I am honored! Especially because I know of your legendary cynicism, haha. With great cynicism comes great doubt about everything.

Jake D

I’ll have to think about this… (and re-focus)

Benjamin K.

One reason this article is meaningful to me is because I share your value for deep thought. However, I am glad you did not praise critical thinking without honorably mentioning its natural result of action. Being considerably more difficult, I find myself avoiding this crucial next step. The last thing I would need is more justification for sitting around thinking splendid thoughts but never realizing them. I’ll have a drink with you, to thinking and doing!

sguise

I completely agree with you. I think that some people are “action people” that need help with thinking, while others are “thinking people” that need help with action. I’m not sure which is better, because action people need the depth of thought behind their actions and thinking people aren’t taking enough action. I believe the most successful people are those who excel at both of these things.

Thinking and action should be a tandem that work harmoniously. Without each other, they are significantly weakened in meaning. You can count on me writing about action sometime. I am a huge fan of it!

sguise

Thanks for reading, Jake! I hope your thinking and refocusing is productive and meaningful.

FreshBlogger Carnival of Personal Development #1 at FreshBlogger

[…] Guise presents Deep Thinking Can Change Your Life posted at Deep Existence, saying, “This post is all about deep thought as the basis for […]

Ray

Great points, Stephen. The correlation between thought and action is fascinating. So many of us spend all of our time daydreaming and never accomplish anything. I also like what you mention about lifestyle. If you haven’t already, check out Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Workweek. He writes a lot about choosing how you want to live your life and working toward that goal rather than some arbitrary dollar amount of wealth.

sguise

Thanks Ray, I checked out his website and blog and they are both very interesting! I know a few people that would enjoy a 4 hour work week. 🙂 I’ve been working about 70-80 hours a week on this blog (I have a lot to learn about things), but it never feels like work. So in that sense, I’m enjoying a zero-hour work week because I’m doing what I love.

As for thinking and action, I have always been a thinker…and in the past I’d just daydream like you said. Recently, that thought has been transforming into action. I do think the order needs to be right – Think, then act. Otherwise, you lack focus on what you’re trying to accomplish.

A. Irvin

I love this post and your overall zeal for deep thinking! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I “think to much,” or that I “over-analyze” things (I placed those words in quotes because I don’t agree – LOL). It is refreshing to come across the writings of someone who shares my penchant for deep thought. I guess I will stick around so that we can “over-analyze” together 🙂

sguise

Thank you for reading Angela! I absolutely share that penchant (good word)! Please do stick around so we can over-analyze together. I love criticism and feedback. 🙂

There may be a flaw in over-analyzing, but I love it! Deep thought is terribly underrated, and that is a big reason why this website exists. The world provides enough distractions for us to go an entire lifetime without thinking deeply – and it is truly a shame when it occurs.

Gary Taylor

Sorry. Too late to change my life. I’m three generations away from you. But you can add a little sparkle. You did this Saturday whilst I was struggling with the shallow concept of increasing blog traffic on a dang good blog (www.gendads.com). I like deep think. Comes out of the margins, margins few have left by filling every moment to the edge of the page with life and, now, cyberstuff. So, old coot here will follow and subscribe. It’ll force me to eliminate a few others just to keep a decent margin open.

sguise

I’ll add as much sparkle as I can, Gary. It may be too late to make huge sweeping changes, but isn’t change is always possible on some level? I’ve found that even small changes can produce big results. Thanks for sticking around and sharing!

Mark Fiore

Hey, Christin sent me a link to your site. Great stuff, you are a good writer…something I find very difficult. I have a few deep thinkers that I think could help you out:
Philosophy: Stefan Molyneux at Freedomain Radio, possibly the brightest guy I have ever come across…he is shockingly insightful on almost all issues
Economics: Doug Casey, Marc Faber, zerohedge.com
Politics: Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul (one of the very few honest politicians ever)

sguise

Thanks very much Mark. I will have to check these guys out.

Emma@young intellect

Great article. I find the aspect that talks about – loosing focus every 60 sec. and regaining focus back 60 times.

Ranjit

respected all admin and viewers of website… i really like this report of deep thinking. but i have one confusion in my mind that i want to make clear. i have some stitches on my left head part. around 7 stitches that i got in my childhood at age of 1 year. right now. i am of 23. but sometime i think that i am not able to think deep because of my head injury… so its just my false notion. i think its part of my low self esteem. guys please help me for this… what is this???

savsav

I loved this article. I’m a deep thinker myself & everything you said you do I could totally relate with. Its good to feel a little less alone in the world… (& not to mention, a little less crazy…)

Ryan Carroll

It seems ironic to have a hyperlink directing to a separate topic in an article about deep thinking. Additionally, this is also the first article I have read on deep thinking. To fully absorb it as you describe I must read other material on deep thinking. Off I go. Thanks for the running start.

Stephen Guise

All of the links open in new tabs so you can view them after reading the current article. My newer articles on focus tend to only link to other focus-related articles.

http://stephenguise.com/how-to-focus-your-mind-instantly/

Dianne Tolar

It seems to me it is false. I was hit on the head by a friend when I was five. The friend was standing on the other side of a fence and he threw a flower pot at me because he thought I was a cat. Think about it…I have a dent in my head sixty years later but I am not a cat and have never been.

Gabe Vialpando

I’m 15 and over the past three or something years I have been able to deep think. Music helps me trigger the thoughts and when I think it’s usually with no distractions. I have gotten better at it now and can even deep think at school with some music. When I start letting my mind work out the deep thinking in my head everything blurs out and I get pictures of what I’m thinking of in my head. I can only hear my music see a picture of what I’m thinking of and all that helps me think deeper and I try to look at the subject I’m thinking of from all different kinds of perspectives.

Stephen Guise

That’s great, Gabe. Thinking deeply will serve you well in life. It’s good to start at a young age like you have.

Dan Tredo

My thoughts have always jumped around like monkeys in a banana tree. I always considered that a valuable asset – you know, multi-tasking and all. But now I have a new goal and I’m realizing just how important focus really is. BUT WAIT – whats on TV tonight honey? And whats for dinner? Should I buy those new golf clubs? Should we see a movie on Saturday? Which movie? Ok, what were we talking about? Oh yea – focus.

Dan Tredo

You must define what deep thinking means to you. I suggest setting a new goal – something that you want. But keep it an easy goal at first – nothing too lofty. Then think about the steps needed to reach the goal and write them down. Then take simple baby steps moving toward the goal. Stay focused on doing the mini tasks and keep relentlessly moving forward. Don’t worry if the steps change along the way or new steps are added. Keep taking small actions one after another. With each step accomplished, reward yourself. The continuous action itself will improve your self-image. And when you reach the goal, smile from the inside.

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