Six curious little things you need to know if you want to master the art of clear thinking
Untethered Mind, Wednesday Edition, 3-min read.
Is clear thinking even attainable?
What even is ‘clear thinking,’ buddy?
Put simply, it’s using that clever little noggin of yours without overwhelming it with thoughts.
When our minds entertain a lower volume of thoughts, we do better. We think more effectively and creatively.
You’ll know what this is like when you’ve had a conversation, and the words just pour out effortlessly. Or you’ve been in what many call a state of ‘creative flow.’
Maybe you were painting or writing, and there was an absence of resistance and an amplification of creative expression.
I’m always looking to reduce foggy thinking to perform better and feel happier.
Here are some of the most helpful pieces of insight about clear thinking that ensure I enjoy more of it:
Clear thinking happens when we jump around in our thoughts less.
In truth, we’re always thinking clearly at any given moment. But if we entertain fifty thoughts a minute, we’re muddy overall.
So, to jump less, we need to get deeply intimate with the idea that doing so is not productive.
Thinking can be addictive, just like eating can be addictive. You must understand the importance of eating less to avoid getting too fat.
It requires assertive action, just as not thinking so much requires actively thinking less and doing more.
Clear thinking requires self-compassion.
Self-compassion isn’t something that bubbles up when you wrinkle your brow and try to be compassionate.
Self-compassion - and all the benefits of genuinely supporting yourself - is the absence of self-criticism.
When we feel particularly down on ourselves, steeped in regret, or frustrated, we often think doubtful thoughts about ourselves.
This comes from a need to do better, and that’s understandable. But clear thinking goes out the window.
We can’t focus if we’re self-conscious and self-critical.
Accept yourself, and clear thinking will return.
You can’t think your way to flow.
You need to create momentum.
The water mill doesn’t start to turn until the water flows through and pushes the wheel. In the same way, you won’t be in flow if you aren’t already moving. You can’t mentally prepare for insight.
You need to be in motion. Writing, walking, scribbling, showering.
These will all aid in a clear mind.
You gotta get those hours in.
I’m talking sleep, and no, this likely won’t come as a surprise.
But I’m putting this here to settle the score. It’s important.
When we lack sleep, we throw our bodies into disequilibrium, which diminishes our capacity to concentrate. Our minds really do rely on those Zs.
Do whatever you can to maximise your sleep, including daily exercise, eating right, and avoiding caffeine and sugar late in the day.
Eat less processed food.
When we’re digesting, energy is diverted to this activity.
This can lead to less brain power and eventual sleepiness. This is amplified when we consume foods the body isn’t supposed to work on, deep in our bowels.
Processed junk forces the body to work harder to digest and detoxify, which means your brain fog and general lethargy will increase.
A mainly primally-inspired, high protein and low carb diet with plenty of time spent not eating is the optimal diet I have found here.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the increased sense of urgency and focus that comes with an impending deadline.
This is why so many people rely on having a boss give them a clear deadline so they can’t question it and fill their days picking their nose.
We don’t always have the luxury of someone else creating boundaries for us. So we need to create them for ourselves.
This isn’t to say we can’t have clear minds without boundaries.
But these restrictions can be a helpful tool.
One example is the Pomodoro technique, which is to give ourselves short blocks of time in which to do specific tasks. This drains all the ambiguity.
Because all you need to do is one thing.
Having that one thing to focus on will show you what thinking clearly is all about.
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