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Once we understand that energy needs to cycle between recovering energy (thinking and resting) and applying energy (climbing and taking action), we need to know how to improve the flow between the two. One of the biggest hinderances to this flow is an emphasis on thinking. People think too much. They use their attention to overthink intellectual information and get stuck in the recovering energy pole of the cycle. When we’re stuck in one pole we’re out of balance and energy doesn’t flow well.

Alfred Korzybski wrote a book called Science and Sanity in the 1930s about general semantics. It goes into detail about the effect that words have on our reality. One of his principles is: the word is not the thing. Words aren’t reality but only point toward reality. This is important because we tend to identify ourselves with our thinking process, which consists of words within the language we’ve learned. Words are just sounds we make with our vocal cords that we’ve associated specific meanings to. Saying “thank you” makes sense to someone who speaks English; saying “merci” doesn’t make sense to someone who doesn’t speak French. Intellectualizing separates us from reality.

We need to remember that we know something when we’ve experienced it, not when we just think about it. We don’t know how to climb until we actually climb. Intellectual knowledge must be converted into experiential knowledge. Therefore, we need to diminish thinking and see it as simply a beginning point for learning.

To break from thinking we need to develop our ability to witness it. Thinking is something the brain does for us, and it wants to think continuously. Most of this thinking is habitual and not intentional. Thinking uses past experiences to interpret future possibilities. We think in the present moment, but that thinking is either about the past or future. We can’t think about the present moment. The present moment requires observation, not thinking.

There’s nothing wrong with thinking, but it needs to be intentional. We don’t need to think continuously. We need to choose when we intend to think. By witnessing when we’re thinking habitually we can redirect our attention to the body and our senses. By diminishing thinking we engage our attention more completely in the experience. The body and our senses engage our attention in the present moment with what is actually occurring. Doing this allows the present moment to be observed and brings balance to the cycles of recovering and applying energy.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Brant Herrett

    Wow, you’re the first person I’ve known that has mentioned Korzybski’s book! An analogy I also like to use is ‘the map is not the territory’. You can look at a route in the guidebook, but that doesn’t mean it will match the real climb.

  2. Mark Ilgner

    “We think in the present moment, but that thinking is either about the past or future. We can’t think about the present moment. The present moment requires observation, not thinking.” I found this particularly helpful, if I can remember this as much as possible.

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