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Life & Philosophy

Turning problems into opportunities

Opportunities and problems go together, often masked as one of the same. It’s your perspective that determines how well you exploit this dialectic.

It’s always easier to play the role of a pessimist. Bad thoughts are typically stickier than good ones. Optimism is harder to produce.

However, when you look at your challenges with a pragmatic lens, you realize there’s hope.

There will inevitably be some wins along the way, even if they’re incremental. After all, the Chinese word for crisis combines the characters for danger and opportunity.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

William James

The mind quickly identifies fake and forced positive thoughts. It also catches you from falling into a morass of negativity.

When you run away from a problem because the amygdala has told you to play it safe, you pass the opportunity by.

Dancing with the tension between thought and action motivates the search for solutions. He who hesitates caused by the dizziness of anxiety — a type of failure in advance — is sure to be lost.

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Arts Creativity Life & Philosophy Psychology Writing

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.

Stalling is a symptom of facing the resistance. When we try too hard to be perfect, we may do nothing at all.

So how can we stem the tide of excess contemplation?

One of the ways to think less author Flann O’Brien once said was to act “calculatedly stupid” and to enjoy what we’re doing. As Vincent Van Gogh put it: “Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile.”

We are at 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.

So do the work and let go, let God. Let inspiration be free-floating perspiration.

Read Non cogito, ergo sum

art via giphy