Thinking Made Easy
normal circumstances, would lead to a normal answer. But if you were to ask her, it
would be baffling.
Similarly, if you ask "what is thinking?" you tend to baffle your listener.
This is because there is no singular way of thinking.
It has even been said that you can make people do almost anything, except think.
While this is supposed to be funny. It is also sad, in a way.
Because thinking is essential to evolution. Both your own and that of humanity as a whole.
It is also ironic, because all we appear to do all day is think.
Yet can this ceaseless stream of thoughts really be classified as thinking? After all, it seldom results in new ideas, new solutions, or a new way to grow.
From this we can assume that thinking is more than stream-of-consciousness thinking.
It is, in fact, a discipline.
Thinking is a strategic game. Most people try to think through things without a strategy.
This results in a completely muddled thought process. And it is this that makes thinking difficult, frustrating, and something most people avoid.
However, once you introduce strategy into your thinking, it actually becomes enjoyable, the frustration disappears, and surprising and often paradigm-shattering answers appear.
Here are the two most famous ways of thinking.
The first is visual thinking. This method was named Gedanken, which is the German word for thought. But really, the translation is more a thought experiment. In other words, imagine a scenario which examines a question.
Einstein was a champion at this way of thinking, although he did not invent it. By imagining riding on a beam of light, he got rid of the idea of an ether and created the Special Theory of Relativity.
Similarly, Nikola Tesla said that he could run a machine in his mind to see if it worked properly.
This method is powerful because it occurs at the alpha or theta level of consciousness.
Alpha waves (8 - 12 Hz) are seen when we are both alert and relaxed. These waves decrease with physical activity. Theta Waves are 4 - 8 Hz . We see these brain waves when we are falling asleep or just waking up and during the early stages of sleep.
Another method was that of Socrates, who would ask questions, get an answer, and turn that answer into a new question. In other words, he would create a chain reaction, and be
able to probe deep into moral and philosophical concepts. This method revolutionized the soldier-farmer culture of Athens to become one of the most brilliant cultures per population number in the history of the world.
This thinking, I believe, functioned at the gamma level (26-80 Hz), the brain waves associated with higher level thinking, problem solving, and interpretive consciousness.
Incidentally, the reason why stream-of-consciousness thinking does not result in much originality, is because it is usually at beta waves, (12-26 Hz) which is a high stress or anxious type of thinking and because it is unsystematic. Basically, your thoughts run around in loops.
Ironically, one of the reasons for a decline in thinking, is modern education, with it's emphasis on knowledge gathering, rather than interpretive thought. It is the result of an industrial age mentality, large numbers of people are taught the same thing similar to a factory that makes a large number of the same products. By stripping away individuality, it also does away with originality.
In education, today, with the emphasis on didactic teaching, thinking, in the sense of original and creative discovery, does not happen much. Usually, a teacher talks and a student listens and follows a reading assignment. The only feedback required of the student is to repeat back the ideas at some future time, and usually under conditions of a lot of fear and tension.
Because of the relative passivity of the student using this method, little is reflected upon and what has been memorized also soon fades away.
Besides the visual thinking method of artists and scientists and the questioning method of philosophers, another strategy of thinking has emerged, which, for want of a better name,
we will call creative thinking.
There are numerous methods of creative thinking, from brainstorming to lateral thinking to mind-mapping.
Here is one method that might prove helpful to you. This method is particularly good for completely baffling practical problems, in particular business or personal problems.
1. Write down everything about a difficult problem that bothers you. Blow off steam.
2. Write down all possible solutions. Do this until you feel you have exhausted every possible answer. The answers do not have to be original, just any answer. Also, don't repeat an answer.
3. Do something completely unrelated.
4. Out of the blue, you will suddenly know the best answers from step 2 or you may even come up with something new.
The reason this method works is because it causes a break in neuronal habituation. Initially, in step one, you exhaust all aspects of your stuck state. Then in step two, you exhaust all known or possible answers. In step three, you let your subconscious mind do all the work. Finally, in step four, it gives you an answer.
The reason thinking is important is that it helps you to transcend levels of difficulties and evolve as a human being much faster. If the thinking is original enough, it can even evolve a whole culture or humanity as a whole.
Saleem Rana is a psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado. If you're up to the challenge and want to create the kind of freedom and lifestyle you truly deserve - starting now - then get his free book from