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How to unthink

Knowledge can be a hindrance. The more we know, the more likely we’re to hesitate in times of execution.

So the overthinking basketball player misses a wide-open layup, the tennis player misses an easy return, or the painter or writer can’t seem to get their inspiration to convert on a blank canvas.

We trip over our best selves. Stalling is also a symptom of facing the resistance. When we try too hard to be perfect, we end up producing nothing at all.

So how can we stem the tide of excess contemplation?

One of the ways to think less is to do it poorly.

For the artist, that may mean making until we have something to play with. As Vincent Van Gogh put it: “Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile.”

Another way to readjust the psychological thermostat is by substituting perfection with joy. When we enjoy what we’re doing, everything else disappears. Execution doesn’t need thought.

We are ultimately our best when we’re relaxed and instinctive, free from the chaos of the monkey mind.

Unthinking is the ability to apply years of learning at the crucial moment by removing your thinking self from the equation. Its power is not confined to sport: actors and musicians know about it too, and are apt to say that their best work happens in a kind of trance.

Non cogito, ergo sum

So do the work and let go, let God. Once you get out of your head, you’ll get out of your own way.

art via giphy

By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of Discvr.blog and four books.