Select Page

Purposeful Thinking

Channeling The Inner Voices

Does your brain run six hundred miles per minute, all the time? Mine does. It really likes to go when I’m trying to focus on something. I’ve found that when I sit down to meditate and try to quiet my mind; to really get still and not think, I find myself thinking about the most ridiculous things. Here’s an example of a common circle I get into.

I’m sitting still, breathing, silently chanting In stillness I breathe in, in stillness I breathe out. Suddenly I realize that I’m imagining a situation where I’m delivering a speech to a room full of Native American veterinarians. I’m explaining to them that being stoic, and not talking about how they feel about things is keeping them unhappy in their work, because we have to know what the problem is in order to fix it, and I’m like:

How in the hell did I end up thinking about this?

So then I start backtracking my thought process. I would never be giving a speech to veterinarians; that’s my mother-in-law, who is a business consultant. I was composing a speech for her to give, but it started out as me trying to explain to her what she needed to say to them, what she needed to understand about them in order to effectively communicate with them and solve the problems that they are facing. The thought that led me to that was about Roland, my Native American mentor, and how he had problems talking to other Native Americans about feelings, because it’s not something that is talked about in their culture. The thought that led me to Roland was that I’m really making some headway with this meditation thing, which he got me started on a long time ago.

Mensa ThinkerSo, once I reverse-engineer my thoughts to how I got to where I was, I then play it forward in real time, making sure I got all the pieces in there. Then, at some point, I realize that I have been thinking for ten minutes, instead of meditating, and it all started with me patting myself on the back about meditating. That’s my ego in action, right there!

I listened to a podcast recently that was talking about being an effective communicator. The speaker (and forgive me, I don’t remember who it was) said that when you need to have a conversation with someone, especially a hard conversation, you should practice it beforehand. Try to determine the probable responses you should expect, and what your responses to those responses should be. This way you are prepared for the direction (or a variety of directions) the conversation will go, and you won’t have to try to wing it, or figure things out as you go.

Using Practice Conversations as a tool, rather than an Evil Fantasy

This is a great tool for someone like me. I have imaginary conversations with people ALL THE TIME. Most of the time I never actually have them out loud, but I have had a million practice conversations in my head. So, I know I have the skill to do that, and it is well-practiced. The next step is to have fewer nonsense conversations in my head, and to start having more purposeful thinking, or meaningful practice conversations. I should put myself on the other side of the conversation, and try to determine how I would approach things if I had to be in the other persons position.

Practicing conversations to be better prepared can be useful in about a million different applications. As a small business owner, I have to present things to my team all the time. As an introvert, I’m not a naturally gifted speaker, so I practice what I’m going to say so it’s a little smoother. You can also practice conversations to have with your boss, or your friend, or your kid’s teacher, or with me at the next Mensa dinner! Seriously, If it’s a serious conversation, this is a good tool.

If my brain is going to work overtime voluntarily, and it’s been doing it for 41 years so far, then I might as well benefit from all that activity. I’ve trained myself to do many, many things in my life, so training myself to use purposeful thinking is absolutely an achievable goal. I hope that this is something that you can find a good use for in your life. Make all that gray matter work for you once in a while!