I recently made some changes to my life. The change was to reduce the number of shifts I was working at my part time gig. The reason I made this change was that I realized that my brain was spending more time thinking about the gig than on my personal projects. I was losing my capacity for thinking deeply and writing. Also, the gig required that I be there at 4:30 am 4 days a week, which means that prime thinking time was compromised. When I got home from the gig, I was tired, needed a nap. My brain was shut down for most of the rest of the day, being willing only to read other people\’s books. I realized that the plan for my retirement, to build phase 3 of my life out of creative writing and addiction studies was being sidelined.
Now, this morning, I was able to focus. Thinking is a brain activity, with a spiritual component. Your brain requires energy, so I still need to sleep. I had a subtle under current of self disrespect: aren\’t you worthless just sitting here thinking? Well, I always wanted to be a great thinker. This morning I thought about how great thinkers spent their time doing just that, thinking. They may have had a seed idea but then they sat and thought and wrote down the thoughts. Media changes the way you think. For me that is scrolling through Youtube or news feeds.
Nicolas Carr wrote a book about how the Net changes the way you think, \”The Shallows\”. Page 8, \”…media aren\’t just channels of information.They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation…my mind now expects to take in information…in a swiftly moving stream of particles.\”
Honestly, I quit watching TV decades ago because I didn\’t want to be Programmed by it. Now, I face that same challenge with the Net. Unfortunately, the Net is far more addictive to the human brain. If I want to be a thinker, I need to maintain longer periods of concentrated thought and abstaining from shallow non-thinking activities. This is a tough challenge because the brain does get dopamine hits from scrolling. I need to continue to find longer piece of work, like a long blog or a book or an article, which cause me to concentrate and spend time reading and thinking. Writing then helps keep the focus of the thoughts.
Thinking is also different from just letting my default node network spin around to where ever from my past history it wants to, unguided by my conscious mind. Thinking should have a focus, a path and a conclusion or a progression. Thinking has a subject, but also thinking is objective. The process of thinking should achieve an objective end. Thinking is different from unconsciously seeking dopamine hits.