An Eclectic Human
A newsletter about design, community, and being a human

1.02 Thinking about thinking

A running theme here may be the people and things that have influenced my thinking and personal philosophy. We’ll start this week with David Cain and a bit of metacognition.

David writes a blog called Raptitude, and he often covers topics like mindfulness and improving quality of life. One piece in particular that’s shaped my philosophy recently is his “5 Easily-Overlooked Truths About Thinking”.

So much of the thinking I do accomplishes nothing. Some of it is productive, of course (my profession involves boiling thought processes down into algorithms), but I’m learning that the only worthwhile thinking is the kind that leads to action. Worry, regret, and even nostalgia seem like useful thoughts but accomplish so little. Being present and mindful allows me to be effective at the things I’m doing right now, to prepare well for things I will do soon, and to keep from getting trapped in feedback loops of negative thoughts.

Perhaps the next step will be a full-on mindfulness practice, such as meditation, but in the mean time this basic awareness of the nature of my own thoughts is an important step in becoming master of myself.

• • •

Here’s what you had to say about being wrong

Sam:

One of the downsides of being loud and animated is that people assume that my mind is unchangeable. I really enjoy good discussion and banter, and OFTEN change my mind when presented with better arguments. When I’m around folks that don’t “read” me well, I find myself using softening language to help them feel comfortable voicing an opposing thought. I use phrases like “I think”, “My opinion has been”, and “I suppose” in my communication explicitly, even though I consider these to be present in everything I say. I also find it useful to explicitly elicit their opinion, even before I voice my own.

A great example of keeping the best ideas independent of authorship is Phil Windley. I’ve marveled so many times at how much he cares about WHAT is right, instead of WHO is right. I try to be like that.

Why do I bring this up? Our opinions and preconceptions are challenged using varied communication methods. Sometimes it is written, but often for me it happens in conversation with others.

Matt:

My deconversion is the first thing that came to mind, but I don’t want this to get too preachy, so I’ll keep it short. I used to expect God to make up for my faults, but now I try to solve them myself, and I’ve become more determined, hard-working, and—from my perspective, of course—realistic because of it, while remaining loving, patient, and kind. Maybe someone else would have the exact opposite response, but that’s what I was grateful for.

• • •

For next time

Who has inspired your philosophy? What important nugget of wisdom has brought you satisfaction recently?

—Steve

Later article
1.03 The Steel Man
Older article
1.01 Being wrong