Saturday, 27 February 2021

Thinking Other Peoples Thoughts

Most of us think that our thoughts are our own, that we thought them, that they are our own original thoughts. But in many cases that's not true at all. Life is complicated and we seek out ways to make life less complicated, we seek shortcuts.

Thinking is hard, it hurts and most people are not keen to hurt themselves. It leads to discontentment with life and even disillusionment. Most people wonder 'why is the sky blue?', that isn't a question, questions demand answers and most people don't want answers. Answers lead to complications and life is complex enough. Those of us who are thinkers are also fools, we find that out because we find answers and discover that others aren't interested.   

However, to live you need to think and people have a lot of opinions, where do they come from?

Interestingly opinions don't need thinking to form, often we form opinions because we don't like something, so we like the opposite. But thoughts aren't just opinions. Thoughts are more complex, like life. To make life more manageable we use those shortcuts that I mentioned earlier. Instead of thinking ourselves we talk other peoples thoughts and make them our own. That's how advertising works, you buy the delicious hamburger because you want it and because you were reminded to. Advertising works and it's mostly harmless, we buy things we wanted anyway. But the idea is the same, someone else tells us something and we believe that it is our original thought.

We are often thinking things that our Father, Grandmother, Teacher or that guy on the TV told us. We often don't even know that we have heard it, let alone absorbed it. But we do absorb it, we listen to other people and we end up thinking their thoughts. Ironically the thoughts in your head (and mine) might not have been original in a good long while. Because of course it is not just us who have other peoples thoughts in our heads masquerading as our own, this is true for everybody. 

We can never escape these thoughts but we can start to identify them. Where did this thought come from?

The reason the shortcut exists is because it works, so don't discount those thoughts out of hand. But think about whether they are helping or harming you.

One final thought, I do not wish to imply that you (or I) have never had an original thought, of course we have. But not all of our thinking is as original as we would like to believe.

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