James Allen, a late 19th early 20th century author once wrote, “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.” This got me thinking about where do our thoughts come from? For me they come from:
- Reading a variety of books.
- Listening to different, sometimes off the wall, podcasts.
- Searching the Internet.
- Listening to the news.
- Talking to friends and colleagues.
- Sitting in the local coffee shop and watching people.
And so the list could go on. I suppose the real answer lies in allowing yourself time to reflect. Each and every day we are bombarded with a host of information, images and ideas. The problem is that we are so busy we have a tendency to either ignore half of this information or, hear it, see it, but not really think about it. We live such busy lives that we don’t allow ourselves thinking time and then time to reflect on those thoughts. If James Allen is right and our character is made up of the complete sum of all of our thoughts, then we are doing ourselves down by not looking after the quality of our thinking.
Arnold Bennett in 1908 (you may have noticed that I’ve been looking at some ‘old’ self-help books!) in his book ‘How To Live on Twenty Four Hours a Day’ (what a great title!) said, “I am entirely convinced that what is, more than anything else, lacking in the life of the well-intentioned man of today is the reflective mood. We do not reflect. I mean we do not reflect upon genuinely important things; upon the problem of our happiness, upon the main direction in which we are going, upon what life is giving to us, upon the share which reason has (or has not) in determining our actions, and upon the relations between our principles and our conduct.”
We obviously didn’t invent rushing around and being busy. He goes on to say, “And still another danger is the danger of developing a policy of rush, of being gradually more and more obsessed by what one has to do next. In this way one may come to exist as in a prison, and one’s life may cease to be one’s own.”
Our creative minds are often overwhelmed by mediocrity and boring routines and we often find ourselves exhausted through chasing targets and deadlines. It is as if we are not fulfilled unless we are doing, hurrying and meeting targets. We need to begin a revolt against this busyness and introduce a slower pace into our lives. A pace that allows us to see more, hear more, think more and then take time to reflect.
Lily Tomlin, an American actress, once said, “For fast-acting relief from stress, try slowing down.”