“Thought makes every thing fit for use” – Emerson (1844)
“If a man sits down to think, he is immediately asked if he has a headache” Emerson (1833)
Does anyone think these days? No, I mean really THINK about things…. When facing an important decision, do we still ponder on the options and the pros and cons of each option, toy with the possibilities, do “what ifs”, review short, medium and long term consequences, reflect on who might or might not be affected, consider how we feel about the options….?
Life is currently a blur of information pouring into our smart phones, email in-boxes, flooding in from our kids demanding answers “for school”, spewing out of the TV from 24 hour news stations, overwhelming us in our newspapers (if we still read them), need I go on?
When did you last sit down with a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine and have a good think? I’ll wager it may be a long time ago, if you can still remember it….
Decision-making these days has become somewhat of an assembly line process with 3 page emails flowing in calling for answers and within 30 seconds of the email arriving, the writer is on the phone demanding to know if it’s been read yet. The pressure is on the make a quick decision, Now, now, NOW!
When was the last time you sat down on the veranda with a meaty book and immersed yourself in the imagery gushing from the pages and watched, as an outsider, as your favourite character had to deal with the problems, not you? Did you picture in your mind, the settings in the book, the faces of the people, the thought processes they were going through?
I believe that the “physical exercise” of thinking is imagination. In a child it is make-believe and that invisible, imaginary world of a child’s play and creation of scenes, sights, friends and places. In an adult, it is the imagery from the written word, the inspirations from memories and places. Like any muscle in the body, if the brain is not “exercised” by thought, imagination and stimulation of the senses, it dulls and declines.
Reading helps stimulate the use of words and increasing one’s vocabulary helps to encourage wider use of words which helps to put meaning and expression to thought. Reading encourages imagination, imagination results in thought. Thought can result in expression. Expression stimulates sharing exchange and debate. Debate encourages communication. Communication is necessary to maintain social cohesion and support cooperative activities for the good of all.
We need to exercise our thought processes by reading, not just reports, or feasibility studies or manuals, but also creative stories, essays, description, mysteries, puzzles and word pictures to remind us of the joy and stimulation of words and thought.
Read this piece again and decide if you agree or disagree. Does it evoke any reaction? Does it make you want to reconsider the way you address your decision making? Whatever else, it probably made you think……