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The Art of Thinking

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The Art of Thinking

Thinking is the basis of all our:

§      Knowledge
§      Ideas
§      Exposure
§      Learning
§      Progress
§      Development
It is a dilemma of our educational system that it does not formally promote the power and functioning of human mind which hosts the thinking process. The knowledge of human mind regarding the thinking process should be made part of our curriculum, and the teachers should be trained in the subject to further train the students in the art of thinking.

This article would briefly cover the following allied topics (having similar meanings):
§     How to think fast and smart
§     How to think in an organized way
§     How to think comfortably
§     How to think with optimum level of mind
§     How to think efficiently and effectively
§     How to think clearly

Let us start with the benefits of thinking in an organized way, which are as under:
§     Intelligence
§     Conceptual clarity
§     Success in both academic and professional fields
§     Organized life
§     Happiness
§     Mental relaxation

And with the help of organized thinking, we can avoid the following:
§     Anxiety
§     Confusion
§     Mental discomfort

Here are few tips to make your mind think more clearly and efficiently.

Avoid multitasking
We often think that multitasking is an art. However, this is not good for effective thinking as in this process, your mind switches from one task to another, and hence its energy is wasted in switching. So, always try to do one task at one time. Give your full focus on it.

Share/explain /teach
We use the following tools to learn and stir our thinking process:
§     Reading
§     Writing
§     Listening
§     Speaking
§     Watching/observing
§     Last but not least, explaining and teaching makes the thinking process most effective.
It is a universal law of nature that you start getting more of what you share. So, make it a habit to teach and share with others what you learn.

Think with pen and paper
When you are thinking or brainstorming, do not forget to take pen and paper. Start writing the points that come to your mind while thinking. Make notes, preferably in bullet points. Make connections. Writing gives direction to your thought process. It gives focus. Writing transfers the ideas and thoughts to your subconscious mind (SCM). SCM may be defined as the storehouse of everything you have learned.

Engage in physical activity/sports/exercise
Engaging in physical activities and sports is very good for a healthy mind. One should allocate 60-90 minutes of daily schedule, at least, to games, sports, walk, jogging or exercise. Whatever is good for overall health is equally good for efficient thinking.

Believe in the power of your SCM
Your subconscious mind is very powerful. It works on the principle of obedience. Its working depends on the thoughts you feed into it. If you always think positive, it will produce positive results. Beware of one thing: It works on the same principle if you think negatively. Just trust the power of your SCM. Always think in terms of your dreams, goals and solutions. You will start materializing them. Do not think in terms of fears, hurdles, failures and obstructions. SCM is like Aladdin’s lamp. If you trust it, it will deliver what you want. Always believe that Allah has created your SCM in such a way that it gives you solution to every problem you confront.
If you are interested in studying more on this interesting subject, please read the book ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill, a renowned American author.

Sleep
Sleep is miraculous. It recharges you. Take 7-8-hour sleep every night. Sleep early and get up early. While you are asleep, your mind organizes the thoughts, categorizes the content and makes your learning stronger. Never skip the nigh sleep during examinations.

Do the things that need will power
Come out of your comfort zone. Challenge your mind. Break the patterns. Try different things. Do the things involving discomfort as they are good for you; for example:
§     Studying when you are not in a mood to study
§     Sleeping early
§     Getting up early
§     Having breakfast early
§     Taking time for exercise/sports
§     Cutting the sugar and processed foods
§     Adding more plant food in your daily routine
§     Learning new skills
§     Trying to understand complex propositions and problems
These hard tasks will make your brain grow stronger. Brain is like a muscle which grows if you come out of your comfort zone, and work under slight pressure. Give your mind the tasks that make it push the limit. Have belief in the power of mind that it will resolve all the issues given to it. Keep in mind that there are many difficult tasks which can be made easier using your mental faculties and exerting no physical effort. Consciously use your mind.

Focus on the right kind of thoughts
When I refer to right kind of thoughts, I mean the thoughts:
¤     that create positive emotions like happiness, hope, satisfaction, contentment, relaxation, forgiveness, gratefulness, etc.;
¤     that give new ideas, new line of work and prompt you to act/productive thoughts;
¤     that give solution(s) to the problems one is confronting;
¤     that are related to the things or the areas of influence – about which you can do something; and
¤     that are relevant to your goals/objectives.
When I refer to the right kind of thoughts, I exclude all the ones:
¤     that create negative emotions like worry, fear, sadness, confusion, anxiety, jealousy, hopelessness, revenge, etc.; and
¤     that lie outside the area of influence – the things which one cannot change or influence. For example, unpleasant memories of the past, negative comments of someone about you, etc.

Thousands of thoughts strike your mind daily. Around 98-99 percent are repetitive thoughts whereas only 1-2 percent are new ones. Monitor the quality, relevance and positivity of thoughts. Focus on the positive and useful thoughts only. Reject or ignore the negative, useless and irrelevant thoughts.

Always think in the area of influence. Think about the issues you can influence or control. For example, the things in the area of control are: your present and future, your career, your family, your decisions, etc. The things which are not under your control are the past memories, others’ comments about you, etc. The problem with many people is that they keep on thinking and discussing the things which are not in the area of their control.

Things under one’s control
Ø     Personal life
§      Health and hygiene
§      Entertainment
§      How to make oneself happy
Ø     Professional life/ business
§      Money-making ideas
§      Professional skills
Ø     Family life
Ø     Spiritual life
§      Your contributions to community
§      Contentment

Things we should keep on doing on a daily basis
Ø     Getting up early
Ø     Offering prayers
Ø     Business/professional life
Ø     Sports/exercise
Ø     Reading/writing/learning
Ø     Entertainment
Ø     Other responsibilities owed to our family

How do you determine the quality of your thoughts?
You may use the following important filters to determine the quality of your thoughts:
Ø     Outcome; whether it prompts you to act or is related to the cycle of influence
Ø     Relevance
Ø     Positivity
Ø     Usefulness

Believe that your mind has infinite storage capacity
Research shows that your mind has almost infinite storage capacity. Believe that you cannot fill that storage; so don’t worry about that.

Keep yourself hydrated
Keep yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of water. It helps your mind think more effectively, and increases the attention span as well.

Take short breaks after regular intervals.
Take 10-15-minute break after the mental activity of 45-50 minutes. These short breaks give the much-needed rest to your brain, and make it ready for productive thinking.

Keep a track of what you are doing and thinking.
Following steps will be helpful in this regard:
Ø     Maintaining a diary
Ø     Writing it regularly
Ø     Penning down your ideas/thoughts/plans
Ø     Track your line of thoughts
§      Monitor that whether they are random/confused or organized
§      Try to ignore or break the line of useless/irrelevant thoughts

Spend more time in nature
Try to work or think at a place where plenty of oxygen is available. It is better to walk when you want to resolve a complex problem in your mind.

Do not think much about the routine tasks
Do not waste your mental energy on the things which are settled. Many people may spend some time thinking about taking shower in the morning. Just take shower. Take action. It will save your energy which would have been otherwise consumed in the process. Do such small chores without thinking. Clear the pendency. Do all the small pending tasks so that your mind may focus on bigger things. Spare your thinking process for more serious tasks or plans.

Remove distractions
While doing something or thinking, be away from all distractions. Examples of distractions include:
§     Family
§     Friends
§     Television
§     Social media
Last but not least, mother of all the tips is: Be grateful to Allah Almighty for the blessings bestowed upon you. Stay happy all the time. Happiness is a learned behaviour. It is a lifestyle. Master this lifestyle. Keep using your mind. Knowledge is a sacred trust. Pass it to others.
Best of luck!

The writer is a civil servant, belonging to Police Service of Pakistan (PSP).

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