I have a new favourite book: The Oxford English Dictionary! With our “economy” going to hell in a hand basket fairly quickly, I have started looking up the words the press commonly uses to transmit their message. The recent headline “economy about to collapse” spurred me on to enquire about what that actually means. While it sounds threatening enough, the two words that caught my attention were “economy” and “collapse”. So, let’s see what my dictionary has to say, shall we?
Every day I scour the Internet for interesting news about the mind, body, psychology,…pretty much anything that this blog is about. As I was cruising around today, I found an article on Discovery, that summarized the biggest study on how the mind set of cancer patients influences their recovery or lack thereof. Now, before reading any further, what do you think?
If you have been following my blog a little, you will have seen the word “influence” in quite a few of the posts. Now, I believe that we are all intelligent and capable of our own thoughts, and as such learning the ideas of influence serve us in three ways:
- protect us from people using the same techniques on us
- We now can influence ourselves
- Our communication with others is much better
While there are many different ways to influence someone, I tend to stress more subtle or unconscious aspects. Yet, a recent article in “Scientific American Mind” has made me doubt whether that is worth it at all. Sadly, it seems we are a pack animal after all, and we tend to outsource our thinking to others – specifically “Hollywood Movies” !
I have recently started thinking about thinking, and more specifically, where does our way of thinking come from? It seems, that across boarders and geographical boundaries, our western culture has spread far enough to make sure we all think along similar lines. Of course, we don’t think the same things, we don’t even think the same ways, yet the rules guiding our thoughts appear to be very similar across the planet. These rules are so deeply embedded in us, they are so unconscious that we are not even aware of using them, or letting them rule our thinking. So, what are they, and where did they come from??
Since the beginning of time, different roles have been given to the unconscious in different cultures. Of course, all this changed with the advent of one coke sniffing therapist from Vienna, and suddenly the unconscious was bad, very bad indeed. Add another 80 years, and suddenly, we are told that the unconscious decides things for us a few milliseconds before we are consciously aware of it. Damn, does that mean that evil thing is now also running my life…RATS! Add another 5 years, and more research appears suggesting the opposite…that the unconscious only decides things for us in simple motor tests…phew! saved by the bell there. But hold on, there is another piece of research that might just blow your mind….
Thoughts. We all have them, most of the time at least. Monks and spiritual leaders train themselves to shut their thoughts up, and get into a state of not-thinking. A state Carlos Castaneda referred to as “Stop the World”. Yet, this is not what we are aiming for today. What has recently caught my interest is the process of thought that leads to innovation and progress. Caught somewhere between daydreaming and number crunching, so to speak, we find the pendulum of progress, swinging politely in the background of our culture.
When I was 12 years old, I remember looking around and being asked: “And what do you want to be when you grow up?” While I deeply love my family and friends where I was raised, I felt something deep inside me stir, as I responded: “I don’t know what I want to do, but I know where I want to be: Not here!” And so it was that at the age of 19, I moved out, of the house I was raised in, out of the country I grew up in. Nowadays, I tend to go back home for vacation every once in a while, and in doing so, I have noticed a disturbing tendency: at the same time as I am part of that place I call home, I am also just an outside observer looking in.