Thursday, November 13, 2008

Quit Taking and Start Thinking - Pt. 3

So if we are trying to guide ourselves to be more inclined to do more thinking and we know if we continue to pepper our brains with less than challenging material (i.e. garbage in garbage out), then what Mr. Ripple would you have me be doing on a daily basis to aid in making me more of a thinker?

So glad you asked!

For me the answer to the question is both simple and complex. In order to guide our brains to do our bidding we need to continually encourage them to get up and stretch. Very much like your legs when you sit for long periods of time, the muscles become tight and somewhat resistant to getting up and actually doing physical exercise. Your brain functions very similar and when you quit giving it mind numbing input like television or other less challenging stimuli it is gonna complain and even resist. Just are in charge. Your brain works for you not the other way around. Don't forget that!

The easy part is making the decision to do things differently - I want to be a thinker damn it! The hard part is breaking the habit of just flipping on the boob tube at night or picking up the latest trashy novel for the 3 hour flight to Denver. It's hard my friends but not impossible. So here's what I have done over the past few years to stimulate my way of thinking and force-feed my brain into working for me not against me.

Here's a few of the things I have done to actually quit taking and start thinking:

I maximizing my morning and afternoon commute by listening to NPR, talk radio or some self-improvement CD program. I pay attention and try and find one interesting story, point or idea and immediately share it with someone when I get to a meeting or into the office. Many a day its those conversations that I start that open up the flood gates of new thoughts and ideas!

I have music playing constantly when I am at the office or I am writing. I find inspiration in all sorts of music and sometimes during a stressful day I will pop on my headphones of shut the lid of my laptop and just let the music wash over me like a warm blanket. The music coupled with some slow breaths allow me to zone out for a few minutes and that's when my brain knows its time to start working. Many a day I can be caught watching the birds outside my office window while the music takes me on a journey of contemplative thought and appreciative understanding.

I exercise. One of the best ways to reduce my stress and clear my mind is going for a long run, walk or a trek on my mountain bike. Motion creates emotion and your brain's chemistry is automatically altered when we take on physical exercise. By doing exercise you automatically force your brain into action and for me that is when some of my best inspirational ideas have started.

I read books that challenge my way of thinking. Whether it be a more heady historical novel or one of the latest business strategy books - I read constantly. On average I probably read between 35-50 books a year. I don't just read to read. I read because it forces me to focus and in doing so, I discover new ideas and new concepts. I also make sure I take periodic breaks when I read to let my mind wander over the material that it is has just seen. It's amazing how sharp this has made my thinking.

Along the same lines of reading constantly I subscribe to numerous periodicals and the Wall Street Journal. I find that opening my Journal every morning forces me to read a wide variety of content from what the markets are doing to the latest book reviews. I try and find at least one or two articles per day and use them as a conversation starting point with someone.

I also believe that in order to force yourself to experience new ideas and new ways of thinking you need to surround yourself with people who will challenge you mentally. I have been lucky to surround myself with many people that enjoy a good conversation, debate or simply sharing new ideas. We have long conversations and dialogue on a variety of subjects; politics, religion, space exploration, you name it. I find that by hearing other people's opinions that my brain is instantly challenged to explore and understand that which it is being exposed to. I make an honest effort to have several stimulating conversations per day and because of that it has made me a more veracious all-around thinker.

So there you have it, that's what what works for me. Sure there is more but this might at least get you started or more to the point....thinking about thinking! I think thinking (slight pun intended here) is one of the most important things we can do as humans. Don't let your minds atrophy. Challenge yourself to spend more time in your own head. Expose yourself to new ideas and other alternative ways of thinking and pay attention to what happens within yourself. If you are like me, once I started, I couldn't stop.

The simple action of trying to evolve as an individual will have a Ripple Effect on the connections you make and the relationships you hope to grow.

Good luck. Good thinking. And as always...

Good Rippling!!!

1 comment:

Rami said...

I really liked what you said. Since I came to United States
(The Land of Opportunity),I am constantly listening to self-improvement, motivational, management , and leadership CD programs. Basically, anything that can help me out to grow. As you said, During daily commute is the best time to take care of our emotions. These are some books and programs on CD that I think anybody should listen to.
- Primal Leadership
- Get the Edge
- Execution, The discipline of getting things done
- The Millionaire Mind
- Emotional Intelligence
- Who says elephants can't dance?