When you don’t allow space for change in your life you stop growing, and although you might superficially feel secure and safe by not taking risks and accepting the challenges that usually result from thinking, in reality you will always be filled with regrets for not daring to create a better life for yourself.
A major reason why people don’t think is that thinking tends to throw them into a state of doubt and skepticism. Eighteenth century poet, Thomas Gray, in Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College, famously meditated on the effect of knowledge on the happiness of man. He reached the interesting conclusion that knowledge is misery and ignorance is bliss.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
‘Tis folly to be wise.
To say that “ignorance is bliss” is true, in a destructive way, as a means of justifying apathy on a given subject—if one is unaware of an unpleasant fact or situation one cannot be troubled by it. However convenient this ‘truth’ might be, it is deadly nonetheless. The more ignorant we are, the less we feel the need to think, and hence the less we feel the strain of change and become the greatest version of ourselves.
Many people choose to remain ignorant, afraid that thinking might ruin their lives, believing that, as Gray wrote, “thought would destroy their paradise”. This is particularly true for people who identify themselves with ideologies. For example, a religious person may resist the urge to think deeply because it might lead them to question and doubt their religious belief systems, believing that by doing so they might be judged and possibly sent to hell, so they shy away from critical thinking.
In addition, thinking can make you aware of problems that currently exist in your life, urging you to find the solutions to them, which can be emotionally and mentally stressful at times. That is why many people, afraid of facing their problems, and unwilling to go through the painful process needed to get rid of them, find all sorts of ways to distract themselves from thinking, preferring ignorance to knowledge and conscious living.
Sadly, TV has contributed greatly to killing our ability to think. The most important thing for TV producers is viewers rating so they create contents that are easy to understand. When people sit in front of a TV, they do not think deeply—they simply amuse themselves with apparent junk.
The advent of social media, email and instant messaging has also contributed to the weakening of our thinking quality. These media are assessable at nearly every hour of the day, distracting us and interrupting the tiniest attempt to be immersed in productive thinking.
To be able to understand and manage how and why you do the things that you do, you need to learn how to think deeply. This can be aided through the conscious continuous training of the mind by consuming as much knowledge as possible: educational, motivational and inspirational books that stimulates the brain—be it fiction or non fiction. And if you find it hard to read, go for audio books. It has been established over and over again that successful men and women are good readers.
Thinking can also be aided through writing. As American novelist Flannery O’Connor revealed, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say,” and journalist Joan Didion asserted, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” Therefore, writing is a very great way of examining and exploring our minds—the result is always deep thinking with clarity, the catalysts of productivity.
Activities like taking long showers, cleaning the house or organizing your workspace can also help in positioning the mind for productive thinking. Lives improve if you are able to think a lot. Thinking can make us reconsider our way of living, allowing us to see things from different perspectives, and helping us find ways to overcome obstacles that we might be facing. In short, it can change our lives to the better, if used wisely.