Just Thinking

Are you better at thinking or paying attention? 

I suggest that most people are completely inept at thinking, and this ineptitude is demonstrated in ways such as the thinker becoming bogged down or content in his particular thoughts. Perhaps, while thinking, one may believe that it is the thinking over of something which will effectuate some assurance of change to the thing about which is being thought.

Read that sentence again.

Thinkers tend to be talkers because thinkers habitually think out loud. Thinkers tend to interrupt because they are thinking too much about what they will say next. Thinkers tend to be anxious because they believe that their thoughts themselves will be the mechanism of change. Another cause of anxiety among thinkers is that they seldom permit themselves to observe others in a social setting because all of that thinking has a tendency to build restlessness and apprehension at times when observing or paying attention would bring about self-awareness and composure.

Most people are thinkers, but only a few people are very good at it.

I myself have very little skill in the realm of thinking. In fact, I’ve discovered that thinking causes me to become introspective to a fault; thinking causes me to become anxious during conversations; thinking takes me off of my A-game during presentations; thinking causes me to skip tutorials, and thus assemble mechanical things in a disorderly fashion. In other words, thinking causes me to bungle everything up!

However, when I pay attention, then I’m giving myself the freedom to learn.

During a fight, thinking will get you killed; paying attention provides more options more quickly; during a conversation, if I pay attention, then I’m not interrupting because I’m listening. I’m not feeling anxiety wondering how I should respond because my responses flow naturally into my head as a result of paying attention.. Paying attention provides a more compelling motivation for change than does thinking, as solutions are truly being discovered as they emerge rather than being fabricated as they are imagined. Paying attention is passive by nature, and requires very little effort; thinking is exhausting, and can only be done for moments at a time before the subject of your thoughts has completely changed several times over.

Are you better at thinking or paying attention?

Please don’t think too much about it. 


The Elusive Great Life

Lately, I’ve been marveling – I suppose even lamenting – over the assumption by many folks that “the good life” is something you must wait for, or perhaps something that comes with qualifications. Such thoughts seem to often coincide with the belief that a great life is something that simply or eventually happens by some twist of events. I would suggest that a great life is something that one builds for himself; something that one puts together in pieces, much like building a wall. And the greatness of that life, again much like the greatness of a wall, is the result of the time and effort one takes to build it. Think about that for a moment, and imagine how many folks trek meander skulk through the years, waiting for a great life to build itself for them. Perhaps they imagine that a brilliant business idea will strike, or great wealth will befall them; perhaps they imagine a beautiful spouse may appear, or their boss will offer a lucrative promotion.


And years pass by. Literally, years. This gives me pause.


Let’s assume, for the moment, that you’re penniless. Or may we at least assume that the great life hasn’t struck for you? You may have even tried to build the life, but you’ve paused to wait for proper supplies and building materials to arrive. Maybe you’re still waiting for supplies, or maybe you’ve realized that those supplies aren’t coming.

I would ask you to stop at this moment, and look around. What do you see around you? What have you done with the few supplies you do have? Have you built anything yet? For you, will the promotion be the usher for the great life or merely a supplement. 

Do any of you know a builder? You know, somebody who builds houses or something similar. I do, and I’ve noticed something about builders. If you give a builder a weekend, some nails, a hammer, and a pile of lumber, then come back on Monday, and I assure you he will have built… I don’t know, a tree house, or box, or a shelf, or something! He’ll not say that he didn’t want to build anything because he couldn’t build EVERYthing. He’ll see what he could build – what he COULD build – with just what’s in the pile. Then he goes to work, and he builds.

I want to assure you that if you think it’s appropriate to waste years of your life planning for what you’ll do when life begins, then there is no great life coming for you. You see, success has nothing to do with position or wealth; nothing to do with cars or houses; nothing to do with watches or jewelry. Success is about taking whatever you have – anything you have – and building something amazing with it. There’s a fellow I know who is one of the greatest photographers I’ve personally met. This fellow tours all around the US and Europe just taking spectacular pictures of many things. Would you believe that I recently discovered that this fellow with this incredible life earns his living by power washing houses? And he doesn’t work for himself; he’s an hourly employee. The photographer didn’t wait for his promotion, and I would urge you to consider his lead; reflect on his vervacious (like verve, don’t judge me) attitude about building his life without delay; without supplies; without wasting a little time, then years, then a life that could’ve been great if it had only been built. I made up that word “vervacious”, but I’ll let you use it. Maybe put that word on your mirror tonight, and live that word tomorrow. Build your life. Build it broke, single, in debt, in a mud pit, in a tough job, but build it vervaciously.