I hear this from people occasionally, when suddenly the conversation veers deeper and I share some of the thoughts in my head. I think they say it out of concern for me, because they believe only distress, worry, sadness and “suffering” can come when you think too much and they don’t want me to be in any of the states. Yes, I agree. That tends to happen when it’s unconscious thinking, which seems to be what happens most of the time. It happens when our thoughts take the lead and take us into dark and funny places, like thinking about the past that we can’t change, feeling sad and beating ourselves up and suffering for it again (and again), or worrying about the future that hasn’t happened yet, focusing only on the worst possibilities that we fear.
But there is conscious thinking too - where we reflect and think about what we can learn from the mistakes of our past, what we can do now to either minimise the possibility of a negative future outcome, and how we can enable ourselves to overcome it with grace should the negative outcome come to pass. Or for the matter, whatever the outcome.
Conscious thinking is not the same as positive thinking - positive thinking is fantasy la-la thinking ignoring what could go wrong and only insisting and thinking everything will go right, and then trying to will it into existence, leaving ourselves totally unprepared when situations and things don’t happen the way we want them to. Conscious thinking is saying yeah, things will happen as they will and we cannot control nor predict it, and asking ourselves what can we do to increase the probability of the good happening, and if the bad should happen, as they sometimes will, how can we prepare ourselves with skills, knowledge and mental clarity to overcome them.
I don’t think that not thinking is the best solution (I love thinking about not thinking). In fact I think thinking too little is one of the reasons contributing to a lot of preventable and avoidable negative situations not just for ourselves but the world around us. I mean, we didn’t really think that much when we saw the invention of plastics as the best thing since sliced bread did we? Or with AI now for the matter.
The ability to think is one of the greatest gifts given to human beings, a gift not bestowed as expansively to any other creature on this planet, and it is the reason we have evolved way ahead of everything else. So to me not thinking so much is not the answer, thinking better is. Dumbing down for peace of mind is not the answer - understanding how the mind works is. Learning how our brain and thoughts work, and learning to use them as tools the way they’re meant to be used could be the better way. To direct our thoughts and to use our thoughts better, rather than let our thoughts run all over the place randomly (and they usually run to dark corners where our fears hang out because they are so persuasive) and decide for us what we do. To learn how to use and instruct our tools, rather than letting our tools use us and direct our thoughts and actions randomly.
Now that’s something to think about.