With no judgment about one's position on this, we offer the following "thinking" about "thinking", for your consideration.
HOW DIFFICULT IS THINKING?
There actually is no difficulty involved in using the prefrontal cortex (higher, reasoning brain). We do it when on trips, by looking at maps and deciding which way to go.
Is that difficult?
Of course not.
WELL, WHY DOES IT "SEEM" SO DIFFICULT?
It Is Improperly "Associated" With Pain
If we don't use our reasoning brain to look at directed thinking, we will make unintelligent, inappropriate "associations" with "thinking".
We often (mis)believe that thinking is painful simply because humans often only bring in "thinking" when there are problems to solve. We then "associate" pain with thinking, because they seem to occur at the same time and our primitive reasoning says it must be the thinking that causes the pain or "is" the pain.
However (and this is a "duh!"), since we bring in higher brain thinking when we have problems, it must be that we believe also that it is needed and therefore useful to help solve the problem! Why else would we use it?
The only "logical" conclusion is that, on average, higher thinking lessens our problems and therefore results in a reduction of pain - and is not a cause of it!!! (Duh!)
Not-Thinking Is Innapropriately Associated With Pleasure
We also associate "non-thinking" with pleasure. And "the culture" supports that incorrect belief!
The unintelligent "reasoning" is that it is pleasureful to watch tv or be otherwise diverted from "thinking".
However, diversion does not actually represent pleasure, though it can sometimes be pleasureful. Note that after 15 minutes of regular tv program you enter into a mild depressive state. (It doesn't seem like that would equal pleasure! Duh!)
It is actually not the "thinking" that you want to escape, it is the pain of what you are thinking about. The thinking we are referring to is that ruminating about our problems, inadequacies, failures, believed threats, and on and on. We, as humans, understandably, want to get away from feeling that pain.
The irony here is that if one applies thinking to the pain that that is the only way out of the pain! (That is, if you use the effective thinking techniques we talk about, the simplest easiest ones.) If we don't do the thinking, then the problem will still be there after we finish our diversion (plus the "problem" almost always is running in the background of one's mind, reducing the pleasure of the moment!)!
The Cause Is Incorrect Beliefs
Pain is caused by incorrect beliefs, not by the process of trying to solve the pain through thinking! (Duh!)
Incorrect beliefs are responsible for almost all of our fear and emotional pain.
How do we know that?
Because, if we use our brain to observe what occurs, we see that some people are still intact, able to fully function, and be happy after experiencing rejection, failure, or some supposedly threatening loss. Those who "suffer" do so only because their belief says that something is threatening when it actually is only the equivalent of their thinking there is a "bogeyman" who is real. (See Suffering and Struggle and, of course, Beliefs.)
Avoiding The Thinking Perpetuates The Cause
Anyway, the point here is that the thinking is not the source of the problem but it is the "not-thinking" that leaves the source of the problem intact. If we simply examined the beliefs and converted the stupid, dysfunctional ones, we would be much happier and would have much, much, much less pain! (Note that "solving the symptoms", by such things as escaping into distractions, never solves the cause. Thinking people solve the cause of the problem, so that they won't keep on getting the effects of the problem. The "effects" of the problem are the "symptoms".)
Yes, it will seem that we are inflicting pain upon ourselves by focusing on the belief for the moment, but we are actually only feeling a little pain because we have chosen to focus on the "problem" in the time spent on it - but the total pain is actually diminished. (Actually, those who have better belief systems do not experience pain in looking at problem - plus many have learned to experience pleasure in anticipation o f the problem being disappeared!)
If we didn't solve the problem, then we would experience the pain over and over again, experiencing, say, 150 units of pain. If we do the "pain" of focusing on the problem and then solving it, we might experience 1 unit of pain and skip the other other 149 units in the future!
Somehow people have it all wired up that going to counseling or using some other problem solving mechanism is incurring extra pain, but it actually is reducing total pain! But we can see why people stay away - and that they stay away because they have done incomplete, unintelligent non-thinking leaving stupid beliefs in place!!!!
They believe, quite unintelligently and unwisely, that they are lessening their pain by avoiding looking at it! (This is the equivalent intelligence to ignoring a tiger in front of you, hoping that it is not a problem...)
Not facing a problem does not help to solve a problem, it only perpetuates it! (Duh!!)
On this site, we deal with what is needed in order for people to have the emotional space and resourcefulness to handle life instead of life "handling" us!
Escaping Noticing The Problem Is Not Useful!
Many will say "there is no problem". Some even think the following is a bit of wisdom, on T-shirts in Bermuda: "Drinking. A problem? No problem. I drink. I get drunk. I fall down. No problem!" (We just need to substitue "x" problem for the "drinking". "x" could equal: resentment, relationship problems, health problems, unhappiness problems, and so on and on. I eat junk food, no problem. I watch lots of tv and I'm happy, no problem. I have a temper, no problem.)
Many people are living "the gradually boiling frog" syndrome. A frog will jump out immediately if it is put into boiling water. But if it is put into tepid water which is then slowly heated, it will boil to death.
So, if you think you have "no problem" and are already wise enough or whatever, then the thing for you to do is to get concrete feedback (aka a dose of reality: "hey, the water is going to boil you to death").
What do others think? Your siblings, your parents, your friends - what feedback would they give you? Many deny the fact that they do see things that are problems for you.
If you took a health test, what would it say? If you took any of the "reality" tests, what would they say? Would there be a "problem" to be solved? Would there be a desired result that could be achieved if you were made aware that you wouldn't get it on the path you are on?
Do You Have Enough Thinking Capability?
Yes, you do (anybody who is fairly normal). It is true that you might have to access knowledge and wisdom from somebody or something else, but you do have enough ability to come to a reasonable decision/solution from directed thinking. And your capability is enhanced each time you eliminate the problems (fears, etc.) so that they are no longer getting in the way and dragging you down.
Take The Test To See If There Is Anything To Apply Directed Thinking Toward
Incidentally, we are not defining "problems" as being some deficiency in you or some fault. They are simply having a situation that is different than the result you desire. The "problem" is to figure out how to close the gap and arrive at the desired results.
Take the test that is listed first on the Tests And Tracking Page. Then engage in a plan to close the gaps. (You could take some of the other tests that related to problems in specific areas, if you wish additional feedback/reality.)
IS THINKING TOO MUCH EFFORT?
Actual directed thinking takes very little effort, as thinking is easy. We only need to say "I'll think about this for a bit" and then do it. Of course, it is easier (takes less total time) if one follows a systematic path. And it is more fruitful if one follows a systematic path, as it makes no sense to have to reinvent the wheel (the path that works) - 'tis best just to use the wheel. (See "problem-solving/decision making", "time/productivity", "belief reworking"
From the point of view of value derived relative to amount of effort, the ratio is the very highest of anything you can do. This means that it is "little effort" compared to the effort involved in re-living the problem or not living life as effectively as one could!
It makes no sense to live life at a lower level than you could. Therefore, we suggest you use the path to wisdom and that you use effective learning to know what will work best in life.
Do I Have Enough Time?
Yikes! Not that old belief: "it takes too much time."
The question is what does it take time from? TV? Being tired? Recycling pain? Avoiding pain? Distracting oneself?
The time it takes is very small compared to the time it frees up. You'll actually find it will take a net of less than 0 hours. In other words, one hour of thinking and learning will save upwards of ten hours of time spent in no or negative payoff activities and will give you more hours of time spent in doing what really makes you feel better and be happier. (I'm just suggesting here that you reduce the number of hours it takes by using the systematic paths that we provide, either through our own design or pointing to the resources we have pre-screened for usefulness.)
How Much Time And Effort?
Mostly from one to five hours a week. Some people find it to be such high payoff time that they choose to do more hours, using the some of the time that they freed up from useless and/or counterproductive time.
Will you lose some hours of entertainment and feeling good?
No! You'll gain some!
Unintelligent thinking might see it as a loss of TV time, but intelligent thinking sees past that to see that there is more pleasure derived from the saved time and from the degree of happiness experienced per unit of time.
THE BOTTOMLINE - WE RECOMMEND DIRECTED THINKING AS THE MOST USEFUL THING YOU CAN DO IN YOUR LIFE - IN FACT, IT WILL HAVE YOU CREATE AN UNBELIEVABLY HIGHER HAPPINESS IN LIFE.
"You will achieve levels of performance [happiness] in your life that occur as impossible to most people." (Zaffrom, Logan)