Thinking without thinking 🤔

Thinking without thinking

Work is the practice of gathering string. But it is the empty mind that weaves experience, knowledge, and ideas altogether.

The apple may have hit Newton's head, but his insights into gravity were brewing all along.

There is no such thing as Eureka, just the gradual harmonization of distilled moments that become apparent when we least expect them to.

We think to get rid of thoughts just like “the blues is played to get rid of the blues.” But we can't think our way to innovation.

We think most effectively when we turn off the monkey mind and permit creativity to break through the hush of silence. Off is on.

Even when we are not thinking — when we're relaxed in the shower or doing the dishes — we're thinking. We are always chewing on context, bringing excitement to the habitual self.

art via giphy

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Facing the blank canvass

The blank page means go. Attack. Write for five minutes straight. Put “TK” (to come) in for things that need to be flushed out or fact-checked. But keep writing, jogging the brain.

Once you have everything down on paper go back and dig through the trash. It's like sampling music: pluck the highlights and play with them, recasting them into something new.

Never be afraid get into the weeds, get more specific, and explore the deeper angles of a thought or a word.

The writing process is messy. It's supposed to be, like smacking paint on a canvass. Writing is observing, splurging, and then editing. It only knows work and process.

So how you do write? You spill your thoughts first, and then you go back and clean up the mess.

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What do we read next?

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We suffer from the infinity of choice, to what type of books we're interested in, all the way down to the format we want to read them in.

Amazon's recommended book algorithms allay the frustration of making decisions by taking into account your past reads and what others have read to suggest what to consume next.

Algorithms (or recipes) therefore resolve two things: Indecision fatigue and the wisdom of crowds.

Spotify Discover Weekly works the same way — after it gets to understand your habits and preferences it recommends prebuilt playlists to appease your taste.

Algorithms free up our brain space to do rather than toggle between the options. They are the antidote to the chaotic linear 21st-century feed.

The more time we spend consuming rather than selecting what's next is time well spent. By outsourcing our digging, we create more time to learn.

Even the proactive tastemaker must yield to the occasional “if and then” statement to build on top of the symphony of algorithms. A remix is not always artistically lesser than its origins.

In an increasingly algorithmic world, there can still be an element of human touch to prove we're not headed toward complete thoughtlessness after all.

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Are you an egg person or an onion person?

A gif of eggs cracked in pain

Introverts are egg people. They’re not hiding anything (per say), they are mostly reserved. And once they start to get comfortable, they are as open and talkative as anybody else. “Don't think of introversion as something that needs to be cured,” writes Susan Cain in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.

Extroverts, on the other hand, are onion people. They contain so many layers of bombast that it’s hard to know when they are being authentic, showy, or just spewing flotsam. Yet, extroverts are most likely to be leaders because they talk loud and carry a big stick.

George Mason economics professor and Oxford humanities associates Robin Hanson sums up the egg and onion divergence:

I’ve sometimes been tempted to classify people as egg people and onion people. Onion people have layer after layer after layer. You peel it back, and there’s still more layers. You don’t really know what’s underneath. Whereas egg people, there’s a shell, and you get through it, and you see what’s on the inside.

Are ambiverts egg or onion people?

Ambiverts are more like salad people, easy to digest and mix in with all types of other folks and scenarios. They’re adaptable like a chameleon depending on whatever social situation they’re in.

We all contain multitudes. But it is the mouth that separates us apart, with different levels of signaling.

Words are the original memes, for which some things are still best unshared and unsaid. Sometimes silence does all the messy talking, reveals all that needs to be conveyed. As Susan Cain puts it: “We have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionally.”

art via giphy

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Imagining life without work

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Some people are obsessed with work. It defines them, gives them a structure. Without work, they'd sail away at the mercy of the waves and get lost at sea.

But technology facilitates creativity. The accountant becomes a music producer at night or a photographer on the weekend. He or she identifies more as being an artist than a professional that crunches numbers. Their online persona is who they really want to be.

Everyone wants to pursue something meaningful. We want to do something that matters. Work, whether it's the day job or an artist, is supposed to reflect our life philosophies. Most jobs though are solutions to a practical problem: we need the cash to live.

The pressure to blend work and life is the result of our obsession with the careerism in a twenty-four seven hyperconnected world. So what would we do with all that free time if we didn't work? We'd probably just do stuff: read, hang out with friends and family, watch and play sports, and listen to music. It would look like a lot of a vacation.

Will we be ok when the robots take over, and the concept of labor fades away? Will making art suffice? We're born off balance. It's how we dance with the uncertain future that shapes who we are.

Read The Shame of Work

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Write a memoir to make sense of your life

A gif of writing papers

“Why write? To write. To make something.”

Claude Simon

Most people think of writing as a creative outlet. But it's also an instrument for coping.

According to recent studies, writing your own memoir has various psychological benefits. Whether for private eyes or for public viewing, writing extensively about traumatic events helps you break free from the cage of anxiety.

“Psychologists believe that by converting emotions and images into words, the author starts to organize and structure memories, particularly memories that may be difficult to comprehend and accept.”

Words can save your life

Making sense of the past not only gives you perspective, it also strengthens your personal operating system by refocusing attention on what matters.

Want to better control your inner-narrative? Consider funneling your thoughts from mind to paper by starting your own memoir.

gif by @soulpancake

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The dopamine surge

A gif of woman swinging below clouds

Dopamine is a superpower. Our brain hunts it down with the expectation of feeding it with some type of satisfaction, be it coffee or social media.

But our anticipation often exceeds reality. The coffee aroma smells better than the grounded beans actually taste. We only go on vacation with the promise of taking photos and sharing them on Instagram. Looking forward to these experiences energize us but fade just as quickly once we realize them.

Our neurons swim in desire, all the while ignoring the risks for drowning in it. Like a magnet, we are drawn to the pleasures of stimulants and irreality.

There's no stopping us from swinging into the emotional rollercoaster, only to find that the high is not permanent like a tattoo. We can only rent moods and activities for so long.

gif by percolategalactic

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