You can think for yourself.
“Minds are like parachutes; they work best when open.” - Thomas Dewar
Here's the choice in your life: think for yourself or think the way someone else wants you to. News media, advertisers, salespeople – these all want to have you think their way or no way, or at least that's the way they sound and look. This doesn't mean they're right, far from it. By survey, most people don't really trust these people to do their thinking for them.
But who is telling people to think for themselves or teach them how to do it? Certainly not the public schools and colleges, which have their own agenda through the books, teachers and administration. These are far from impartial.
Yet, there comes a time in almost everyone's life where a personal situation shows up and some original thinking is required. Or even in retrospect, one finds out (or has is pointed out to him/her) that a better decision could have been made.
The trick here is to figure out when you are thinking and when you are being made to think. Try this:
Try not to think of a pink elephant.
Now, most people immediately have a pink elephant show up, or some faint impression of one. This is a ploy of advertising and news media, schooling, etc. through their “subliminal advertising” and psychological study groups. Even churches, through their hired PR firms, are advertising this way. They give you opinions and reactions which you are supposed to spout back on cue. If they say buy a new car, you go out and mortgage the house or max out a credit card. If they say vote a certain way or that certain social programs are good or bad, then that is supposed to be your opinion or reaction.
But this isn't anywhere near the truth. Closer to truth is that many, many people give up their power of decision to these sources out of convenience, safety, loyalty, even friendship. People can still be loyal, safe and friends but retain their own power of decision and thought.
You can try this if you want:
Can you get an idea of a cat?
Now, who thought of that cat? That's right – you. You can have your own thoughts on just about anything. Probably you can think your own thoughts on anything. If not, practice will make it possible for you to think about anything that you want to.
As we'll cover later, doing your own thinking is directly related to changing your mind, which can help you improve that condition you wrote down on Day 1. I've meanwhile included some exercises in today's lesson which will help you improve your ability to think for yourself.
Day 2 Exercises
Try this –
1.Get five pieces of paper.
Write numbers or letters on each one (your choice).
Now, turn them all face down.
Decide which one to turn up and turn that one up.
Then decide which one is next and turn that one up.
Do this for all the rest of them.
Here's the punchline: Who decided which one to turn up?
(You can do this as many times as you feel like it.)
2.Earlier we had you practice sitting still and relaxing. Now, while sitting relaxed in a quiet room, just look over the thoughts that are coming through your mind. You don't have to do anything with them, just see the variety of thoughts that are happening
3.Next, try thinking no thoughts. This seems impossible at first – you will only get better with practice at this. Perhaps at first you'll only be able to go seconds without some other thought crowding in; practice will lengthen this. The reason for this is to demonstrate to you that thoughts are controllable, as well as to practice getting them under control. I've found that simply listening to your own breathing or pulse, or the sounds in the room – not thinking anything, just listening – can help you control these thoughts.
Do these for 15 minutes or a half-hour, preferably at the same time and place daily. In our next day's lesson and exercises, we'll add to the skills you've already started developing.