Thinking: The Master Skill
Practicing And Development Of The "Muscle"
Use Of Thinking In Creating Psychological Well-Being
You'll See This In Every Area Of Your Life
Advisory note for you to "think" about and decide from on how to proceed
Before reading this piece, be advised that it is important not to get lost in the links for now, but to just the the idea of what thinking actually is and the level of importance it has in life. It is vital that you make the decision to seriously devote energy and time to actually develop the skill of thinking (including knowing where to go to get the forms that will guide you, since memorizing it all would not be feasible). Follow the program in the sidebar and be aware that one can get the overview and the sequence for reading by going to the master page called Thinking, Contents/Links. You might best glance at that page now to get the perspective of the "terrain" involved, as that it what The Thinking Man/Woman would do (called SQ3R, which is covered in the Learning section under "Best Ways To Learn".)..
Try not to jump into too many links as that may cause you to be disjointed and to lose track of the overview and perspective needed. (The smart reader notes down what links would be of interest , most likely having printed this page to be able to mark on it.)
The reality here is that it is vital that you decide to truly master your thinking, not at the "academic" Ph.D. type level but at the level of effectiveness that will have you creating your best life. This will take time. If you are convinced by this page/article, then plan on at least 10 hours of study and then use that to decide whether to go quickly to Level 1, later going to Level 2 (after you've mastered a few other things with big payoff), and then to what I call the mastery level, which is based on you being able to think through and create anything possible that you want in life.
THINKING IS NOT THE SAME AS "HAVING THOUGHTS" - INSTEAD IT IS...
Thinking is not the same as "having thoughts".
The first of the two is active (proactive); the second is passive.
Thoughts are merely neuronal patterns automatically occurring in association to something seemingly related to what is occurring - or related to a problem that "seems" unresolved - it is unorchestrating with only primitive automaticity. Thoughts are often inaccurate and/or incorrect.
Thinking is the process we actually orchestrate on purpose to screen and correct the thoughts and then to create ways to get what we want. Thinking is
1. The organizing of data and the verification of such data, and deciding what data is missing that is needed (as such it also engages us in "learning", which is the acquisition of data, some of which is "how to" data).
2. Using the data relative to a desired result - it will involve "evaluation" of the data as to its impact and, as part of the process, prioritizing what is to be done.
3. Putting the data in order and in perspective so that it can be used effectively to attain the end result.
4. Coming to a final (correct) conclusion that has a result that is of value/meaning.
If you leave out any of these, you are not doing "thinking" in the true sense, as a missing in any part of it can lead to the wrong conclusions and/or results. Lazy thinking is not thinking - it is sloppy thinking and as such may be ineffective and/or harmful.
True thinking is getting from one place to a desired end place. It is "closing the gap" between where one is and where one wants to be. As such, it is "problem solving" (closing the gap between undesired results and gaining desired results) AND decision-making (what to do, what is correct and right).
THE THINKING PROCESS IS ALL MECHANICAL...COMPLETELY!
It is all mechanical, a series of "events" happening in a sequence to arrive at an end point (aka "result"). [To live a good life, you MUST "get" (grok) this physical law/reality, as your understanding of life is based on this reality.]
Good thinking produces a good result. That is the test and purpose of thinking.
Event → Perceived → Interpreted → Matching → Selection → Emotion → Action → Result
of data of response
All of this is based on rules of "if this, then that means that..." (which is exactly how a computer operates). Beliefs are rules that govern our lives and thinking. When we use our thinking ability for the purpose of testing the validity of the beliefs, we then make sure that we have sets of rules that actually work. When an "if this, then that" rule doesn't work (it doesn't end up getting us the "that"), it needs to be "re-thought" and corrected to get the result we want. (To do the thinking, just follow the forms in the process Changing Beliefs.)
That's it. Simple. Mechanical. Doable.
A SUPER-KEY APPLICATION OF THINKING WE FOCUS ON
It is crucial that each person "does the process" of rethinking and replacing one's key beliefs - to the point that one is freed up to the point that one is able to achieve anything. The "big" beliefs for a human are those that involve one's perception of one's basic capabilities, the understanding of what can be done to build from those basic capabilities, magnified and/or false threats/fears, and the "why" of life. As such, correcting those are the biggest priority in life, for they affect everything else.
Note that beliefs are not limited to things that affect us emotionally. We can believe that if we use a particular tool or systems or whatever, we will get a particular result (like more money) in any area of life or the world. Belief systems are, as everything in the world, strictly mechanical - and as such they either work or don't and are revisable.
EACH STEP IS CLEARLY LAID OUT (AND EASILY ASCERTAINABLE)
Thinking is not some "mysterious" or "magical" process, though lack of understanding of what thinking is will allow one to "unthinkingly" attempt to "explain things" by merely "making them up" and then believing they are the truth [which is a classic thinking error!] The pieces of the process include "analytical thinking" (aka Critical Thinking) and "creative" thinking (which is merely critical thinking used in a process that produces "creative" results that are not achieved in less focused/intentful thinking). I call this overall "Effective Thinking".
SINCE THINKING IS AT THE CORE OF LIFE...
Since thinking is at the very core of life, it is also the core thing to learn to do effectively to create the results you desire in life. If that essential is missing or defective, then one cannot have a great life. It would be impossible to have a great life without good thinking.
I repeat: A great life is impossible to achieve without good, effective thinking!!!!!
To the extent was is not thinking properly or well, one is engaged in foolishness and operating "unsmartly" (probably "stupidly") in life. No rational person would choose to live his/her life "stupidly" or even to any degree "unsmartly". But if one does not choose to master the thinking process, one will "leave alot of the chips on the table", meaning many of the benefits of life will be left unattained!!!!
THINKING: THE MASTER SKILL (You might consider using it more...)
Go beyond low level use of the mind, to skillful and easy use of our key ability that allows us to do and conquer anything.
The brain is capable of great reasoning and systematic thinking. We need only harvest it and learn how to "ride the horse". Proper use of the brain is the path to making the right life decisions, which in turn is also the point of acquiring wisdom in life.
However, there is a great obstacle that exists with many people, they believe that emotional thinking and/or non-thinking works just fine in life. In fact, there are a number of people who get very emotional about this when emotional thinking is challenged as being ineffective!
The task here is to, amazingly, try to convince you to use systematic, rational, logical, critical thinking. The reason for trying to convince you is that there is no way in Hades that you can produce what you truly want in life without applying it and/or you will end up with problems and feelings that harm your life.
"Thinking is the highest mental activity present in man. All human achievements and progress are simply the products of thought." "thinking starts with a problem and ends in a solution". To solve problems, get perspective, challenge preconceptions, make good decisions, make progress happen, can't create unless stop and think, to achieve goals...
Thinking is the master skill that serves the purpose of getting the results we want in life - and determining what those results should be.
Without it, you are screwed, at one end of the spectrum. And somewhere in between you get varying degrees of effectiveness
Passive, Applying fully
Poor Great results
Results Good decisions
In Life Create happiness
Passive thinking is something we are capable of doing and many people have the impression it is enough. It is not even close to being enough. The "mind", by itself, generates unuseful thoughts and recycles concerns ineffectively - wasting one's time and life and being unproductive. Use the wonderful functions of the "mind" but don't depend on "Dumb and Dumber" to make effective decisions. (See The Mind, to see how it developed and why it works as it does.)
Emotional reasoning is one of the key modes of distorted thinking. An example, from David D. Burns, M.D.'s top seller Feeling Good: "You reason from how you feel: 'I feel like an idiot, so I must be one.'"
The key thing to do here is to use "straight talk" (languaging) where you use accurate wording. The term "I feel" is often used to justify that something is right, because, "after all, I do feel it and I learned that my feelings and intuition are accurate." However, this is a false belief.
You actually "think" that "I believe I am an idiot" and the feeling (emotion) you have is "fear" (and there is usually some belief that one derives that from such as "people won't like me and therefore..."). This is where we would use the worksheets for looking at one's beliefs, in order to straighten out one's thinking.
"GUT FEELINGS" AND "INTUITION
One huge error in beliefs about thinking and feelings lies in the "magical" thinking area where we get a full blown answer from our gut, intuition, or our heart - many of those are just useful metaphors.
But the fact is that you can "feel" that murder is wrong and you'll be correct, but that is really a knowing/belief that is correct - it is a thought with an accompanying feeling. Since the thoughts (even though you aren't aware of them) come up and evoke a feeling, that does not mean that all thoughts or intuitions are correct - they are only indicators of the possibility of something being right, which you should pay attention to and then determine if it is true through rational thinking.
It is time to drop this romantic, superstitious belief, so that you will not be blocked for the benefits of rational thinking - and you'll be much happier once you drop this nonsensical, non-provable belief.
Note that this area often involves metaprograms, which are complex combinations of thought/belief programs, so you should be familiar with those, so that you don't believe in magical explanations, such as "consulting your heart" for advice - it can't give advice though the thought that the advice is good can be felt in the body because it evokes an emotion.
It is only directed, on-purpose, systematic thinking that pays off at the highest level and gives us the greatest rewards, creating a life that is many, many times more happy and fulfilled. This type of thinking gives us
1. MORE PAYOFF for each ounce of effort than anything else, plus
2. It SAVES US a lot of mistakes and unnecessary pain.
The reasoning capability provided by the higher brain (prefrontal cortex) is what had us survive evolution better, as it provided us the most powerful tool of anything known in this universe. I think it is a good idea to use that tool. (Duh!)
"Right Thinking" is one of the major precepts of Buddhism (see Philosophy section, which is a great source of principles that work in life, far greater, in my opinion, than religions). If you want to live an effective life you would make the commitment, in writing: Commitment To Develop Right Thinking.
It is also absolutely and profoundly necessary for a sound psychological foundation and for developing peace of mind.
One form of "Right Thinking" is called "Rational Analysis", where one focuses on seeing "what is so" through the filter of noise and flak that gets in the way of effective decision making. This is a key means of improving one's psychological well-being (eliminating one of the greatest malfunctions of pschology that we as humans indulge ourselves in, to our detriment).
living a good life and having psychological well-being.
Lazy thinking, irrational thinking, not thinking, reacting, etc., are all opportunities for distorted thinking, where reality is not really duplicated at all. In cognitive behavior disciplines they identify 10 basic types of distorted thinking that one should use when one is testing out thoughts and beliefs for validity.
They are exaggerating, black and white thinking, all or nothing thinking, emotional reasoning (oxymoron!), catastrophizing, assuming, reading minds, negative biasing, etc. See Cognitive Distortion.
PRACTICING AND DEVELOPMENT OF "THE MUSCLE"
Thinking is a skill that can be practiced to further develop and strengthen in a way that is similar to muscle development, where we practice and use bigger and bigger weights. However, we are not trying here to become rocket scientists, but only to become masters of creating a hugely happy life.
Useful to read, even if you think you are not in this category (you might might be, when compared to where you could be):
greater impact on life than one would think. Not somethng to be
minimized in importance.
Learning how to make "distinctions" (telling the difference between things, going deeper) is a function of using this muscle, as is using Powerful Languaging.
THE "INTELLIGENCES" OF LIFE
Intelligence = The ability to respond quickly and successfully to a new situation and learn from exposure to similar situations.
In life, there are intelligences that are different than the standard overall I.Q. Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman, helped define a new way of looking at intelligence in terms of psychological health and relationships. What are the intelligence and what level are you at? To find out, read The Intelligences Main Page.
USE OF THINKING IN CREATING PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING
We know that insane thinking is irrational thinking with some element of incorrect beliefs and not being in touch with reality. Well, we need to create the opposite - and that can be done best through using the "right-thinking process," which does better and better with inputs of learned life-knowledge.
Use the thinking process to unravel the mess of thoughts that roam through the brain, often doing harm and serving few useful functions.
Being able to think without an emotional fog bank or unclear viewpoint is vital to mental health. Here is one way of eliciting the use of thinking that will benefit you greatly in terms of psychological well-being: Objective: Objective: Operating In The Loving, Rational Adult, Allowing The Play Of A Child (Live in this role or persona and your life cannot help but be magnificent. It is also great for relationships.)
LOGIC IS THE ONLY WAY TO ANY KIND OF PROBLEM-SOLVING
When one is experiencing difficulties or a gap between where one wants to be and where one is, then logic and reason must be used to get to a solution. When one is operating off of an illogical conclusion (which you can spot, because it produces an undesired result), then the only solution to unraveling the illogic is to take it throught the use of a logical process. Read about this in The Use Of Logic and apply the process.
YOU'LL SEE THIS IN EVERY AREA OF LIFE
You'll see throughout various sections of this site how to use "Right Thinking" rather than letting the dumb, primitive, caveperson brain sections run your life. Success in the other areas of life is dependent on your developing and sticking to "Right Thinking".
A HUGE THINKING ERROR THAT BLOCKS PROGRESS
One of the great thinking errors is believing that it is beyond mechanical, as if there were a mysterious force or entity of some sort that is running things or doing things. See the 20 page summary: How You And Your Brain/Body Operate.
"However, the brain is physically a neural network, which has very simple operations as its forte. Neural networks are understood to use pattern-matching as their fundamental method. How does the brain use pattern-matching to achieve logical deductions? Also, how is pattern matching evident in brain functioning?
We have two modes of thinking.
1. Pattern-Matching - originating with handling sensory data
2. Logic - originating with planning how to satisfy our bodily needs"
"The role of emotions in thinking? They are crucial in controlling attention. [They have an impact] in coloring our perceptions and in setting our basic conceptions."