THE THOUGHT FACTORY
Thinking is probably the most important gift from God. This is what distinguishes us from other species on the planet. It’s free and available all the time and there is no limit on how we use it. Amazing, isn’t that great?
The five inches above our shoulders controls the five feet body below. I call this five inches structure a ‘Thought Factory’. All the thinking happens here – all the time, non-stop. When we have between 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day, this means between 35 and 48 thoughts per minute per person on average. Like in any other factory, please take care of the production, the quality of thoughts, timely delivery etc.
Many of us have wondered how some people can think faster, more logically and creatively, think out-of-the-box, think more clearly. Yes, we all saw some people do it and said, “Why can’t I think like that?” The answer is: “Yes, you can”. All we need to do is to ‘firstly think that we can’.
I saw this many times in my experience in the human laboratory that I experienced in the “Empower Camp’ over 10 years ago where I got to observe human behaviours in a safe, free, unthreatened environment. We often experimented with these behaviours.
If we said shall we go for rafting? We got different responses. While some children would start jumping with excitement, many others would already be scared to death.
Can you relate to some of these thoughts?
- Wow, that is going to be real fun!
- Oh God, I am not having spare change of clothing and my clothes will get wet
- I hope the water is not too deep
- Are there any safety measures in place?
- I hope I will not drown
- I think I can try it next time
- Let one batch go first, while I opt for the second batch
This is how one situation can generate so many different thoughts in different people. Some of the elements of thinking are quite easy to understand. These thoughts come to us from maybe a past experience or an accumulation of many experiences, a visualisation or imagination, something you saw in a movie or on the television, or something you have heard of, it could be anything. Somewhere it is your belief system, too. It could be something that you formed since childhood, from family, religion or environment. And then what you believe is correct becomes your benchmark. The best part is, all this is in your hands. The good news is that you can control your thoughts. You have the power and capability of changing the way you think to way you want to think. However, it requires some hard and persistent work and a strong will and determination.
Adding more fuel to thought
Here are some of the simple techniques that you can start practicing:
Believe in yourself: It’s important to work on your self-belief. You are what you ‘think’ you are. And to change the way you think is easy.
Learn to think positively: Negative thoughts will come into your mind naturally. They come from your belief system. As I said earlier, thoughts keep flowing continuously. So, to have a positive thought you can’t wish away a negative one. You can’t remove it either, as you can’t have vacuum. You need to ‘replace’ it. That’s the only answer.
In this regard, I quite like life-coach and author Malti Bhojwani’s title of her book, Don’t Think of a Blue Ball. While explaining the title of her book at the launch event, she said, “If I tell you not to think of a blue ball, it’s most natural that you will only think of the blue ball. One of the best ways you can ‘not’ think of it is to think of a red ball.” This simple explanation intrigued me but I tried it and found that it actually works.
Learn to de-clutter your mind: Have you found yourself struggling for good ideas or thinking hard for a decision. If yes, it’s time to de-clutter. Free your mind and get to focus. Although easy to say, it seems hard to implement. However, it’s certainly quite possible. Try some of these tried-and-tested simple techniques. They have worked for me as well for many of my students, too.
Breathing: A very powerful way to free your mind and refresh it is to consciously learn something as simple as breathing. Breathe and slow down for a couple of seconds. Take a large deep breath through your nostrils, hold for a few seconds and then slowly release through your mouth. This will have a calming effect and soothe your mind. Now take a few slow, but deep breaths, holding for a few seconds. In a few moments, you would realise that your brain is feeling energised and read to work more efficiently.
Make a priority list: If your challenge is to cope up with many wavering thoughts, just jot them down on a piece of paper. Now, reorganise these thoughts as per your perceived priority.
Take a walk: When you are feeling muddled with thoughts, get up, walk around, look at something green, even at the sky, it will certainly help. This way your heart pumps a little faster and more blood is sent to your head. More blood means more oxygen, which means a more effective functioning of the brain.
We shall delve more into developing the faculty of thinking and how to use it constructively in the following chapters highlighting the concept of critical thinking.
This is an extract of Chapter 12, ( 7 pages #76-82) of my book, “Design Your Life”