How to think better

How to think better

Do you have any idea how much time you waste? Well, perhaps not you personally but you in concert with others who do their best to devour your time as they fritter away theirs. It is probably as high as 60% of all your waking time. I’m not speaking about recreational time. That is generally very well used. Whether golf or judo you will concentrate your efforts to achieve the best rating you can. There is no more challenging competitor than oneself. Challenge yourself to think better.

The real time waster is when a process takes over and you leave the void blank. Think of it like a water wheel generating electricity. Subject only to periodic maintenance work, the wheel runs by itself, on and on, day and night. The paddles play their part unthinkingly as do the cogs in the gear wheels. The flow of water provides the pressure to create power. The process is one of transforming flow into usable energy. Once established very little thought is necessary.

You are a waterwheel. You turn the energy of a fuelled body and mind into action to benefit yourself and others. Much of what you do is automatic process. When you rise in the morning your ablutions and dressing are largely systematic. You have to think about what to wear but pretty well everything else is done by rote. Which means that you have the best part of an hour to think. Do you do so? If so, what about? What can make you use this potentially void time better?

The secret of all good discipline is to tackle the impossible first. Our natural tendency is to deal with what is easy, the admin of life, the quick answers, the politenesses. All highly desirable but what matters is the insoluble. A dilemma that would phase even Solomon is a great place to start our thinking, tempting as it is to play with the rest. Put the tricky difficulty firmly in front of your mind. Define why it is unresponsive to your attempts at thought. Unscrew the bolts of the logic jam.

Examine each piece of mechanism you set aside. Could it be different, could it be better? Could you do without it altogether? The most successful thinking starts with decoding or disassembling. Insoluble problems are monsters. They stalk and haunt you until you turn round and face them squarely. Most of them disintegrate, for they are myths. And a myth is a moth that flies away.

Now reassemble the bits of the problem you have taken apart. Do not worry if they aren’t immediately compatible or cohesive. Cut corners to reach a model of an answer even if it turns out to be wrong. Errors are the staircase to solutions. Keep reassembling until you see a more or less workable solution. It will not be perfect. An insoluble problem is insoluble.

You have only one thing to do with it.

Solve it as best you can.