Deep thinking can transform your life. It can profoundly change the way you think, feel and behave. Thinking deeply enriches your life and encourages deeper living. To think deeply means to think beyond beliefs, preconceived ideas and prevailing opinions. It means to shed off false convictions so that the truth can unfold. The problem is that we no longer know how to think. Our thinking is unfocused, superficial and not directed. It simply occurs randomly, but we don’t give much thought to it. At the same time, we don’t use our thinking processes to think deeply. We no longer seek to think beyond our own boundaries. Most are perfectly happy within the comfortable confines of their own beliefs, attitudes and prejudices. If you’re not one of them, the following is for you. It will address the magnificent power of deep thinking and how thinking deeply can change your life. It will show you what you can do to think deeply and introduces you to some deep thoughts you can get started with.
In the age of technology, quality thinking is difficult to come by. Instead, shallow, instinct-driven thinking prevails. Even worse, superficial thinking is promoted by the world we’re living in. Vigorous thinking is no longer shining in the bright like it used to. In times of television and the internet, trivial entertainment overstimulates our senses. We’re surrounded by a noisy information-cloud that draws away our attention from the important to the insignificant. At the same time, we become so addicted to stimulate our minds with various information streams that we are no longer comfortable with silence. It makes us feel awkward, which is why we try to avoid silence as best as we can. And what’s better than media consumption to keep silence (and any chance of deep thinking) far away from us?
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
The way we think greatly shapes our lives. Our very beliefs and thoughts influence how we feel and behave. What you think you become. Shallow thinking leads to a dull, shallow life. The ability to think vigorously is therefore critical. It helps us to free ourselves from the prevailing rule-based thinking to a more inquisitive and reflective approach of thinking. And by cultivating the habit of thinking deeply, we create the foundation for a deeper and more meaningful existence.
Deep thinking helps us to realize that there is often more than one way of thinking. It further enables us to entertain ideas without necessarily having to accept them. By thinking deeply we can create and entertain thoughts that are more meaningful and valuable. This in turn greatly influences how we behave. Deep thinking makes our actions more meaningful, focused and valuable.
The Power of Deep Thinking
Are you content with your thinking processes? Do you appreciate how you think? Do like the quality of your thoughts? Or are you easily distracted, unable to focus on the task at hand? The way we think can make or break us. Quality thoughts create supportive beliefs, which can help us to endure times of great difficulty. At the same time, however, negative and unbeneficial thought processes can make us more likely to give up when the going gets tough. It’s time to change that for the better. Let’s introduce deep thinking to our lives!
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Deep thinking requires effort and patience. On one hand, effort is necessary to learn the fine art of thinking deeply. Similarly, effort is required to maintain one’s focus on one particular train of thought. This is something most people have great difficulties with, especially in times of increasing attention deficits and tempting distractions. It takes therefore a lot of mental strength to refocus whenever one starts to lose focus. On the other hand, patience is necessary to withstand the (initial) discomfort of silence.
Let’s have a quick look at the concept of deep thinking.
Thinking deeply is in itself the progress of gradually increasing the quality and depth of your thoughts. This is accomplished by diligently replacing inferior and shallow thoughts with more qualitative and supportive thoughts. But deep thinking is not just about replacing thoughts. It is about entertaining thoughts of a higher quality and exploring where these thoughts lead you.
Deep thinking helps you to specifically focus your attention on a particular thought or idea. Instead of being constantly distracted by irrelevant thoughts that lead you nowhere, thinking deeply aids you in blocking these thoughts off. In doing so, a higher level of mindfulness is promoted, which helps you to entertain quality thoughts for a longer period of time.
There are many benefits to deep thinking. One of the major benefits is that thinking deeply promotes (a higher level of) independence of thought.
In an age of information overload, depth of thinking is becoming less and less valued. The number of people addicted to various kinds of distractions is rapidly increasing. In many people’s lives, there’s no longer a mental and physical space that is not penetrated by technology. Smartphones keep us connected to the internet wherever we go. As a result, the switch from being active (working, chatting, playing, watching) to a more passive state (thinking, reflection, etc.) occurs less often.
The craving for information makes it incredibly difficult to actually experience the magnificent joys of solitude and a deeper level of thought. Instead of seeking answers to our questions within, we’ve grown used to seek answers in the data available. After all, it’s much easier to simply Google your question instead of reflecting upon it. The problem is that certain questions cannot be answered in this manner.
The process of thinking deeply can be divided into three parts. The first step towards attaining a deeper level of thinking lies in eliminating distractions. The second step consists of learning to increase your level of concentration so that distractive thoughts can no longer derail your attention. The third and last step focuses on learning to entertain more thoughts of a higher quality.
Create the right environment
Naturally, highly distractive and noisy environments do not promote deep thinking. It is therefore important to find a peaceful and comfortable spot where there are no distractions. Choose an area where you can let your thoughts unfold freely. Your nearest park (or nature in general) is ideal for that. Your own room is also just fine. Just make sure not to be interrupted.
Distractions prevent you from concentrating on quality thoughts. And they certainly keep you from ever reaching a deeper level of thinking. It is therefore immensely important to reduce the impact distractions have on your mind. By eliminating distractions from your environment and mind, you create more space for deep thinking.
Some distractions can easily be removed, such as your smartphone, which can be locked away or turned off. Other distractions, however, are more difficult to control as they require a certain level of mental strength. This is the case with surfing on the internet – it takes discipline to seek only what you need without getting distracted.
Mental distractions retain our thinking processes on the surface level, which prevents us from ever exploring the depths of our minds. While most people understand that television and technological gadgets distract us, they neglect that there are many other distractions than just that. Basically everything that doesn’t encourage thinking can become a distraction. Every piece of information we simply pick up without thinking about it becomes a meaningless distraction.
Learn to concentrate
Removing distractions from your life provides an important fundament for deep thinking. This alone, however, is not enough. It is important to build upon this fundament a strong framework (i.e. by learning to concentrate) that helps you to cultivate deep thinking. Without being able to concentrate yourself, you will quickly lose focus.
Concentration helps you to maintain your focus on a specific thought or idea, without allowing mediocre or irrelevant thoughts to interfere. However, concentration is difficult to come by. You cannot simply will yourself to be more concentrated. Concentration must be developed. It takes practice, dedication and effort to increase your level of concentration.
Entertain higher-quality thoughts (find food for thought)
The first two steps have focused on creating space for thoughts of a higher substance. The third step focuses therefore on finding qualitative food for thought to make good use of the newly found space.
Deep thinking centers largely on the exploration of quality thoughts. Inspiration for these thoughts, however, is difficult to come by. In general, the quality ideas and concepts you choose should inspire or challenge you. Seek for something that introduces entirely new viewpoints to your perspective of life. Don’t be afraid to explore contents that are not in line with your idea of reality. Entertain ideas that encourage you to strive for greatness and excellence. Try to expand your knowledge base and see if you can get a better glimpse at the bigger picture.
Books are a major source of inspiration. They can truly ignite the passion to think deeply. But the company you keep can also be an important source of inspiration. Therefore, it can be of great value to meet wise minds and distinguished thinkers in real life. Naturally, these people are difficult to come by, but there might be small gatherings in your area that attract the right type of person.
Here are some topics to get you started:
- Inspiring biographies.
- The nature of reality.
- Quantum mechanics.
And a couple of books that provide enough material for deep thinking:
- On the Genealogy of Morality by Friedrich Nietzsche
- The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- Civilization and Its Discontents by Sigmund Freud
- The True Believer by Eric Hoffer
- The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker
- A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
- As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez
- Self-Reliance and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson
- The Shallows by Nicholas Carr
- The Giver by Luis Lowrey
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- Tao Te Ching (for instance by Stephen Mitchell)
Once you found an interesting topic or book, explore it! But don’t just explore, think and reflect upon the ideas portrayed within this concept. This is where the process of deep thinking starts to begin. Read a specific part of a book and start reflecting upon it. Analyze what was written, evaluate the book’s contents and take yourself the liberty to expand on these thoughts. See if the book contrasts your present belief system and if it provides a view perspective not previously considered. It’s great if you find a topic that does not align with your belief system. Explore it anyways and see if the author can reasonably articulate the point of view.
Here are a couple of thought-provoking questions to get you started with deep thinking:
- Why are the sun and moon of precisely the same size (when seen from earth)?
- What is the nature of reality?
- What is worse: failing or not trying?
- Is there life on other planets in galaxies far away?
- Is your life shaped by yourself or destiny?
- What will people say in their memorial speech for you?
- Do your present actions grant you access to heaven/paradise/nirvana?
- What would you do if you would never die?
- What’s your life’s philosophy?
- Is it more important to do the right thing than to do things right?
- Is it acceptable to do something wrong if no one ever finds out?
- Is your experience of reality the same as other people’s perception of reality?
- What happens after death?
- What lies beyond heaven/etc.?
- How did humans evolve?
- Is the universe just very big or really infinite?
- What lies beyond the universes?
- What came before the Big Bang?
- Why does space have three dimensions?
Here’s a hand-picked selection of the 10 most thought-provoking quotes to get you started with thinking deeply:
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”
“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”
“The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.”
Kalu Ndukwe Kalu
“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
J. R. R. Tolkien
“Too many people spend money they earned… to buy things they don’t want… to impress people that they don’t like.”
“When a poet digs himself into a hole, he doesn’t climb out. He digs deeper, enjoys the scenery, and comes out the other side enlightened.”
“Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It’s a journey of discovery – there are moments on mountaintops and moments in deep valleys of despair.”
To think deeply means to go beyond what you think you know. It means to let go of preconceived ideas in order to discover the truth. By cultivating the skill of deep thinking, we can gain freedom of thought. The deeper your thinking becomes, the more focused and meaningful your actions will be.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article about the power of deep thinking.