“People who for some reason find it impossible to think about themselves, and so really be themselves, try to make up for not thinking with doing. They try to pretend that doing is thinking.”
–Laura Riding Jackson, writer
We all have a habit of avoiding difficult issues in our lives. It’s so much easier to put tough questions and problems on the back burner, and avoid looking at them for as long as possible. When I thought about the quote above, I realized that I am certainly guilty of this, as I will try my hardest to keep myself busy and distracted (“doing”), instead of “thinking” or resolving what I’ve been avoiding.
When we spend time just “thinking,” we feel guilty. We have a need to always be doing something, multitasking beyond belief. When on the phone, I’m also answering an email. When I’m cooking dinner, I’m also trying to fold a load of laundry. Studies show that multitasking doesn’t work, and that, when we do it, nothing gets done properly.
The same goes for thinking about ourselves and where we want to be in our lives. How often do we actually take the time to THINK about what we’re doing, where we’re going, how we’re going to get there, and making a plan. We move through our lives haphazardly, with no real focus or goal, and somehow, we hope that we will find our way and get to where we want to be. This rarely happens, of course.
The way we really get to figure out what we want, how we want to move through the world, what makes us happy, and what doesn’t, is by reflecting. It’s by stopping and smelling the roses, so to speak. It’s about thoughtfulness, and turning that thoughtfulness into action, once we figure out what we really want.
How many of us have gone into law because it was expected of us? Or because it was part of our family’s legacy? Or because we were told it would be a good profession for us, because of our personalities or certain characteristics we possess? None of these reasons are necessarily wrong, but did we think about this, and decide if law was really a good fit for US, despite what others wanted or wished for us?
Even now, if we are happy with our choice of profession, do we consider what our future steps are? Our goals? How often do we simply go through the motions of rising, working, going to sleep, and starting it all again the next day? We move through our days like automatons; we’re so busy “doing.”
We have to give ourselves permission to “think,” to reflect, to plan, to make thoughtful decisions. It’s okay to do this; in fact, it’s necessary. No guilt should be involved! We can daydream, too, while we’re at it. Daydreaming has been shown to be critical to our evolution and progress. It’s while daydreaming that we discover what we’re missing in our lives. What do we think about when we daydream: usually the things we wish we were doing! That’s our first clue, our first step, to moving forward. These small pieces of information are so important to our self-discovery.
As we move through our days, we can remember that there’s nothing wrong with taking time out for introspection, and that even though our work ethic tells us we should be “doing” all the time, we can also allow ourselves to take the time to be reflective and quiet.
Call to action: Give yourself permission to take a few minutes each day to turn off your cell phone, TV and computer, and sit quietly and think. Don’t worry about what comes up—just allow your thoughts to flow. Ideas and plans, and perhaps even solutions and answers, will come to you as you focus. Daydream, muse, consider. Allow yourself this time each day. As always, let me know your results in the comments below.
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