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Day 48: A Sprint of Thinking.

This weekend I happened to spend a lot of alone time which created a condition where I had to occupy my mind with something.

So I did this thinking exercise where I tried to rely very little on external engineered entertainers (Instagram, reading, movies) and instead learn to dig deeper into my own thoughts.

You look around and you try to understand things or at least question them.

This is intentional boredom.

It is a technique often talked about by artists because to catch inspiration or to see something interesting, you need to be looking out.

You design an environment where you have as little inputs as possible for you to be able to focus on inner thoughts. Instead of being reactive to what comes your way, you form your own actions and direct your thinking.

It is extremely beneficial for developing mental capabilities for questioning things. Being curious. Looking at things in a new way.

When you are sort of bored, you notice a lot in the enviornment around you.

For example, I was extremely bored being a guest in a house where the TV was turned on. Nothing was happening, the conversation was dull. Since I didn't want to seem impolite, I tried analyzing what I see on the TV screen to occupy my mind.

  • Observe the CNN screen outline and factors being manipulated: reporter has a very emotional face, red running lines, high contrasting colors, close-ups. Although I felt nothing coming into this, seeing the reporter's face makes me feel sad all of a sudden.

  • Why am I emotionally drawn into a random TV show after like 2 minutes? Because they operate with the most intense and universally human emotions that are very hard to not respond to, like a guy and a girl holding their newborn baby.

  • The huge size of the screen makes it impossible for me to not look at it.

What did I learn from this? A little bit about our attention and appeals to emotions. Nothing super big but it started building the skill of deconstructing the reality around me. Asking questions about how and why it is engineered a certain way.

This was an example prompted by an effective attention-grabbing stimulus, TV. The less "artificial" the stimulus is, the harder it will be to go through this process. Reading a text demands a higher level of engagement and imagination than watching videos. Not having a book and just lying on the beach creates even more boredom and asks for more creative imaginative thought.

Those were the things that I noticed. The things each of us notice will be unique to how you are wired and what we pay attention to.

Noticing small details will get the wheels going in the head to start noticing more and asking the new interesting questions to lead to new insights.

When my thoughts started wheeling, I started voice recording. It felt amazing to talk through my thoughts because speaking them out seems to make your stream of consciousness way more organized. It is not that I will come back to the recordings to listen to them but more that it helped me clear out my thoughts at that moment.

Just this morning I discovered Bill Gates' "Think Weeks" when he goes alone into a house in the woods and thinks for a week. No phones, no other people, only some books. Pure focus on thinking on a certain topic.

Think week might be an overhaul right now, but we definitely can and should try to design micro experiences of this "Think Week".

All it takes is a space where you can be alone, facing yourself fully, with very little outside distractors or inputs.

It is crucial for establishing clarity of thought and focus.

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