Doing things is good… but sometimes, stopping and just thinking can be better.
That idea holds even when we are extremely busy. Take that cartoon above as an example; if those characters had just stopped for a moment they might have recognised an opportunity to save themselves a lot of hard work.
The same thing happens to me when I’m in a rush, but when I give myself time to really look at the situation before I start, I usually see my problems and the possible solutions more clearly.
That usually leads to better and less work.
Thinking before you act may seem like an obvious thing to do but for some reason a lot of people don’t want to do it, and I think that may be because really thinking – without doing anything else – is quite hard work.
And when I say nothing else, I mean nothing; no music, no TV, no Facebook.
Unfortunately, switching off the distractions is easier said than done these days since our friends, family and employers often expect us to be available 24 hours a day.
I was thinking about this situation during my recent visit with my mother in the United States.
I had quite a bit of time for uninterrupted thought while I was there partly because I don’t listen to much radio or watch a lot of TV, but mainly because my cell phone was not compatible with the US system which meant I spent long periods unconnected.
One of the benefits I noticed was that my life seemed to slow down, but surprisingly that resulted in me taking far less time to write the columns I filed while I was there.
Then, when I got home and turned on my phone, I felt a bit rushed and it was rather late in the day before I latched onto an idea for this week’s blurb.
As a matter of fact, I even asked a friend to help me come up with a topic.
When I checked back yesterday afternoon, however, she told me she had been so busy at work she hadn’t had time to think.
Ever herd that one before? Me too; quite often… but that’s exactly what I’m talking about.
Taking time to be with your own thoughts is also a good thing to do even when you don’t have a particular problem that you want to solve.
The practice gives you a chance to work out what you think about the things that affect your life and to decide for yourself what is really important.
It also helps you to become more aware of other people and their needs.
The effect of doing that, however, can be quite different from taking time to see a problem before you try to solve it.
With problem solving, the thought process usually makes your life easier, but becoming more aware of your own values and the needs of others often does not.
The more aware you become, the more there is to consider so choices and decisions can become less clear cut.
The thing is, easy is not always the same as good, and awareness usually makes life more rewarding, so I think devoting time to developing it is one of the best things we can possibly do.