Thinking is the ultimate cognitive activity, consciously using our brains to make sense of the world around us and decide how to respond to it. Unconsciously our brain is still thinking and this is part of our cognitive process but is not what we normally call ‘thinking’. In a neurons, thinking is simply about chains of synaptic connections. Thinking as experienced is of ‘thoughts’ and ‘reasoning’ as we seek to connect what we sense without the inner world of understanding, and hence do and say things that will change the outer world.
Our ability to be creative and imagine possible futures. As an extension of reasoning, this becomes less certain but still lets us think about what may happen and how we can influence this. This includes achieving outlandish goals and avoiding potential disasters.
Rational thinking is the ability to consider the relevant variables of a situation and to access, organize, and analyze relevant information (e.g facts, opinions, judgments, and data). Unconsciously our brains are still ‘thinking’ and this is the part of the cognitive process, but is not what we normally call ‘thinking’. For example, while you are showering, or on long walks, you always have some natural thoughts in your mind, the brain is gathering past information, memories to create new information.
There are many possible connections between science, including medical science, and the imagination. The obvious bridge between the two is science fiction, in which writers can suggest possible worlds or situations which scientists have yet to explore, or draw out the deeper moral and social implications of what scientists are suggesting. Again, writers or artists can present in imaginative terms what it might feel like to be on the inside of a clinical situation. Sometimes the more striking aspects of science–such as cosmology–can make an appeal to the imaginations of us all and inspire the feelings of awe and reverence celebrated by writers on the sublime.
In this Digital world, we get free of information everywhere. Whether it’s our Facebook, Instagram, or even an ad on Youtube, we gather a ton of information every day. We carry information in our pocket, see it on every leisure time, switch from Youtube to Facebook, Reddit to Twitter. From work to home, we are always occupied with something and someone, we rarely give time to ourselves. Eventually, we are forgetting to think. Alternatively, we are practicing to engage our brain or switch our brain from Task 1 to Task 5, but our analyzing and interpreting skills are getting rusty.
How thinking is underrated?
A majority of people believe thinking is waste of time. But I argue that depends upon what you are feeding your brain. If you are watching movies lately, then the thoughts can be about the imagination of the scenes from the movies or the dialogues. That depends on the types of movies to open the new thinking on your mind. If you are a researcher learning about time travel, then watching TENET can open new ways of thinking for you, it’s like collaboration with writer’s and director’s vision, you are gathering tiny information which can become an idea for your research. If you are reading some books, then the thoughts can be from a stories from the book. That’s a collaboration with the vision a writer. When the writer’s thinking and your thoughts mixed up you can discover a new path combined both the path. This is just a gathering of information.
But, people don’t understand the process of thinking, they tend to ignore the amazing capability our brain has. Much of what we do in everyday life involves a process — a series of actionable, repeatable steps that can be performed to accomplish the desired goal. For example, we have a process for baking a cake, writing an expository essay, and changing a tire. A process is a meaningful, repeatable series of steps that produce an outcome. Every process requires inputs to produce some output.
Only gathering information will never work , it is upto you what you what meal will you be preparing if you have knowledge of 1000s ingredients and recipes. We need to think about new ideas, new recipes without forcing our mind to think. But all we have done it forget to think? Or don’t have time to think.
How great achievers used their “Thinking” ability?
“I never came upon any of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.” — Albert Einstein
No, doubt! Everyone knows about Albert Einstein. Einstein went about his work in unique ways. From visualization to daydreaming and even a dash of musical inspiration, Einstein’s creative insights and philosophical vantage points help guide the work we tackle today.
As Maria Popova, author of Brainpickings writes, organic synthesis of ideas happens when we step back and examine the patterns. Don’t mistake these moments for the illustrious and often-debated lightning bolt of inspiration, even though they can happen while we are walking, showering, or even meditating. Think of them as important moments that are part of a sequential creative process that happens while we work and play. Think of the work as peering through the lens of a microscope in a lab, and the creativity starts to percolate when you take a break from the lab, pick up an instrument or go for a walk.
These interludes helped Einstein connect the dots of his experiments at opportune moments when he picked up the violin.
“This kind of mental play uses both unconscious and conscious thinking: scanning various stimuli and information, perceiving patterns and clear or hidden similarities between things or ideas, and playing with their interconnections, relationships, and links,” notes researcher Victoria Stevens, who explored the neuroscience of creativity in To Think Without Thinking.
As a 15-year-old, he dropped out of school. Einstein left school because his teachers didn’t approve of visual imagination for learning, skills which became fundamental to his way of thinking. “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” Einstein would say.
It’s no coincidence that around the same time, Einstein began to use thought experiments that would change the way he would think about his future experiments. His first, at age 16, saw him chasing after a light beam which would help launch his discovery of special relativity.
His innate ability to conceptualize complex scientific details became a hallmark of his research. His work on gravity was influenced by imagining riding a free-falling elevator. This flight of fancy eventually led him to understand that gravity and acceleration were essentially the same.
Using these simple thought experiments, Einstein was able to understand that time and space are both shaped by matter — the basis for the theory of general relativity. It’s astonishing that this thought experiment changed everything we thought we knew about the universe. Newton’s ideas of the universe were one-dimensional, but Einstein proposed that our universe was four dimensions, where stars, planets, and celestial bodies formed a “fabric” that were dynamically influenced by the bending and curving of gravitational pull.
Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonardo wasn’t primarily known as a painter, because of the breadth of his interests in the arts, science and technology, spanning disciplines from chemistry (he discovered acetone) to astronomy (he discovered the lumen cinereum of the moon) to math (he discovered the center of gravity of a pyramid) to working with plastics.
To Leonardo, vision is the noblest of the senses and of paramount importance, and his passion for vision was extreme. “The eye is the window of the human body through which the soul views and enjoys the beauties of the world. Because of it, the soul is content in its human prison, and without it this human prison is its torment” he writes in his Paragone (comparison of the arts). He emphasized ways to visualize knowledge and he pioneered anatomical illustration.
To Leonardo, painting was a science, and the creative act of painting is useful to visualize the world. As an anatomist and physiologist he decided at one point that the sense of vision is so important that it must be mediated by its own brain region, the “imprensiva.”
Seeing also has the meaning of paying attention, and Leonardo did this with exquisite patience. He would strike a dusty table and describe the pattern by which the dust settled again. He performed repeated dissections of the body, and when his observations conflicted with those of his authorities, he was sometimes able to liberate himself and pioneer original discoveries.
“Stephen Hawking taught us that imagination and critical thinking are inseparable — that to more fully understand what is real requires us to imagine what has never before been dreamed.”
— Howard V. Hendrix,
Hawking began serious work on his breakthrough calculation a decade after he was diagnosed with ALS. By this point, he was unable to read books on his own or write down equations.
As the New York Times reports in their (excellent) obituary, Hawking had friends “turn the pages of quantum theory textbooks as [he] sat motionless staring at them for months.”
Unable to write, he then attacked the problem through mental “pictures and diagrams,” seeking visual intuition (a technique also deployed by Einstein).
Hawking revealed the mysteries of the Blackhole with his powerful thinking.
And the list goes on, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates all the modern achievers have same thing in common, they make a time for themselves to have a quality thinking.
Gathering and discovering are the two side of the same coin
No matter what we are feeding our brain with new information, if you are reading this, your brain is storing this chunk of text on your brain. You may not remember this by tomorrow but it’s still on your brain. Our brain stores 34 GB of information per day on average. That’s like (17), 2 Hours Long movies. Besides the visual scene of our life, we store audio and text too. Doesn’t matter what you see your brain keeps a record of that, especially when you are conscious about something.
Our brain is mysterious, as we go we can remember a memory from a year back with some reference. “Connecting the dots”
“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life” — Steve Jobs
This is not nonsense, the amount of data you are feeding your brain right now will surely connect the dots in the future. Perhaps how you can connect the dots is by observation and visualization. My point to this sentence is, we don’t value the power of thinking. What does thinking even mean? Quality thinking doesn’t mean you’ve to forcefully think about something continuously, that’s not Quality thinking but Anxiety. Quality thinking means to stop worrying about whatever you are in, relax and start wondering about your life, goals, achievements, projects, work anything that comes to your mind.
If you are in trouble or you’re stuck somewhere, your mind already has 100’s of solutions, but the fear is kicking your mind with continuous vibration which makes your mind go blur. Observe, settle it and seek answers, this is where your past data comes in handy, as you settle your mind your brain starts to analyze the data you’ve learned over the years, this is how you discover something and solve your problems.
But watch your thoughts.
It all starts from your thought. The person you are right now or want to be. Our thoughts are the beginning of everything we do- or don’t do. Most of the people in this world live day-to-day without any awareness of their thoughts become so much a part of them that they eventually fall into a blind spot.
Thoughts leads to over expectation, thoughts leads to depression, anxiety, anything you can imagine. According to theories of cognitive therapy, your thoughts and values determine the way you see yourself and the world around you. Thoughts and beliefs that are grounded in pessimism can negatively impact your feelings, emotions, and mental health.
Your belief system is made up of your personal views, attitudes, and values. Your beliefs are always with you, shaping the way in which you see yourself and the world around you. Self-defeating beliefs can set you up for failure and dissatisfaction.
Enhancing your “Rational Thinking”!
Ask yourself, you know your time better than anyone. Thinking is a subconscious process it can be performed on any time at any stage. But thinking consciously is totally different.
If you travel everyday do you notice something?
Your brain automatically engages in some thoughts about your recent scenarios. Walk everyday especially in a familiar place, connected with nature. Walking in an open world makes you able to think about a thing in a totally different angle.
Journaling enables you connect your thoughts and gives you the ability to create a new thought from it.
Self observation, self-talk it’s sound crazy but it works out.
Whatever you do, we have to give our let our mind engage in a thoughts that’s wandering our mind, let it flow.
Use your breaks for some quality thinking instead of browsing through web or your smartphone.
You need understand the principles of everyday things around you. Learn the same thing from Business perspective to Engineer perspective, Philosopher perspective to Scientist perspective. Fill your mind with these 100 mental models. Start reading these models. Mental models are the most important ideas of each science: philosophy, mathematics, physics, statistics, engineering, chemistry, biology, psychology, economics and history.
You need to know and connect them.
These models do not tell you what you think, rather they teach you how to think, and encourage you to think critically.
Check here: 100 Mental Models
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future: https://amzn.to/3uGXaTN
Leonardo da Vinci: https://amzn.to/3tJcNZz
Einstein: His Life and Universe: https://amzn.to/3o9RNtP
Science and the imagination in the age of reason
The eighteenth century is commonly thought of as the "age of reason", an age in which the imagination was not given a…