I’ve been thinking about thinking…
I feel when it comes to thinking, it’s sort of a three little bears experiment. We have Papa Over Thinking, and Mama Under Thinking and baby bear just right thinking. But like Goldilocks…how do we know when we’ve reached the level of thinking that is JUST RIGHT
Let’s start out with a premise that thinking is good. When you are about to do just about anything, the universal thought is probably that you should think about what you are doing. You shouldn’t cross the street without looking, you shouldn’t invest your money in shares of a bridge with a person that you met at the dollar store, you shouldn’t just pick some greenery from the forest and ingest it. You should at least glance at at least one possible consequence. So thinking = good
But let’s look at how thinking affects us by looking at the crossing the street example. If you decide not to look both ways, if you choose to not pay attention to your surroundings, if you decide to text while you walk, maybe you are thinking, but you are not necessarily thinking about the task at hand. If you don’t at least think about the possibility that cars could hit you, you are not thinking effectively. At some point you need to think about danger.
Now, if you are standing at the corner and think about the velocity of the cars, look to see if any car is faster or slower, if they seem to be swerving, if there are too many pedestrians, if the road is in good repair, etc there is a possibility that you will not get across the street. Ever. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be aware of the pitfalls that lie ahead, but you also have to learn to assess what could most likely happen from what will probably happen. Actually hearing the revving engine or a siren are actual signs that should heighten your senses. A truck three blocks away probably doesn’t matter in the ten seconds it takes to cross the street.
It’s very east to go from thinking to over thinking.
But what about under thinking? Do you just cross the street without looking? Do you hear the sirens but don’t stop to ascertain how close they are or from what direction they hail? Do you not look to see the pothole and try to avoid it?
But how do you know when crossing the street what the correct amount of thinking is? How does your brain make the connection from not to under to regular to over?
I guess part of the answer lies in distraction- how distracted are you when you are doing something. Thinking means that you have to be paying attention to something. Can you think when you are distracted? Yes, no and maybe. Sure, we say that we can multitask, but if nothing is getting 100% of our attention, are we really giving any of the things we are thinking about their proper due? When you are crossing the street, what percentage of your brain are you actually giving to it? Are you also thinking about work, family, where your life is going? Are you listening to music or a book? Are you holding the hand of a toddler or walking a dog? Are you texting? Haven’t we all seen at least one video of someone walking while texting who has fallen into a hole or fountain? Of course, we might call that “Not thinking”…
Next we have the risk thing. How much of a risk taker are you. I’m going to take a stance and say that over thinkers are less risk averse. I think over thinkers try to weigh out every single possibility that comes down the pike, so much so that they end up in a state of inertia. Instead of doing something they end up doing nothing. They become so bogged down in the thinking that they can’t move ahead. They are paralyzed with fear of taking a risk.
Impulsiveness, on the other hand, could be a sign of under thinking. Someone who decides spur of the moment, to take a leap, has probably not thought about the pros and cons of the situation at hand. They saw an opportunity and seized it. Depending on the situation, impulsiveness can be good or bad. Deciding on a whim to get on a train with a person you just met can have a delightful outcome. Deciding that jumping on top of that train might not work out so well for you. But yes- in both these cases, you should at least think a little bit about the consequences.
Personally, I think I can fall into any of the thinking categories. I don’t think, I under think, I think and I overthink. It all depends on what I’m doing. I have regretted things that I have done, and I have regretted things that I haven’t done. I have never overthought myself into paralysis though. I am actually a confident decision maker- I think, make pros and cons and decide. It’s neither good nor bad- it’s just me.
Food For Thought
- Do you consider yourself an over or under thinker
- Do you think it’s better/worse to be an over thinker (or under thinker)
- How much thought do you put into something before you move forward
- Have you ever been too scared to make a decision?
- Have you ever acted impulsively- what happened?
- Are you a risk taker
- What is your “just right” level of thought
- Anything at all that came to mind as you read my post