Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dismissing the Negative

While I still like the principle of my thinking lists, I'm finding that putting them to practice is extremely difficult. Like the first time I tried employing them several years ago, I'm finding that I cannot generate any interest in guiding my thinking in accordance to the list, so it far too often has a null effect. Given the circumstances of my life right now, I consider this a problem particularly important to solve.

There are two main reasons as to why I wish to maintain thinking lists. For one, it's a matter of keeping myself productive at all times. At work, for instance, it is not always the case that there's a consistent stream of things for me to do or that I'll be able to break away from my task to do conceptual exercises (e.g. pulling chicken apart for soup), so during those activities in which I have the most time to guide my thinking I want to be able to guide my thinking productively. Secondly, I've cultivated the cumbersome habit of dwelling on the Circumstance towards which my Project is directed towards solving, which usually ends up souring my emotions and making me less productive. It is the second I regard as most important contextually, since I view it as one of the biggest roadblocks to my happiness (aside from the Circumstance) and idealized habits.

Honestly, such dwelling on the negative has been a problem for well over a year now. To recap, the Circumstance first invaded my thoughts when I was still in the process of trying to determine how to best and most effectively deal with it, and it continued to consume most of my hours of thinking since most of the things I've tried failed. Now that I've got the nearly fool-proof Project in place, I think it's best that I lose as much awareness as possible of the Circumstance, but I'm finding it difficult since it still exists in my life and still has an effect on me. It is during the moments in which I am engaged in free thinking, thinking away from the stimuluses of reading and writing, that I find it hard to keep my thoughts from that matter. For the sake of emotional health, it needs to stop.

My first thought of a solution was to try and restrict my thinking to only that which was on my thinking list or was before me in my endeavor as a way of prohibiting any irrelevant thinking. If I wished to change subjects, then the new topic must be written down beforehand. With how strict this methodology was, I was only able to maintain it for about half a day since the speed of my thoughts made it absolutely cumbersome to have to write down every single subject I wanted to think about, so I abandoned it. I managed to establish an inertia that kept my mind off the Circumstance that day, but it isn't sufficient for the long-term. The stimulus of change needs to be to my very lifestyle.

The list-keeping methodology advocated in Getting Things Done has given me an insight. According to the book, one of the things one must maintain meticulousness in is being sure to always check the appropriate to-do lists on a consistent basis so that one's subconscious will "trust" the lists and clear one's thoughts about them. I realize now that, despite my being consistent with my other checking, I hardly pay any continuous attention to my trigger lists (list of concepts) and thinking lists; I usually just stick them in my back pockets, be on my way, and only pull them off on the rare occasions that I think I need them. Consequently, my subconscious may not trust them as providing potential activities to complete, so they stay out of my normal thinking. If I were to check them more consistently, then perhaps I'd be more apt to productively utilize them. To try and defeat my dwelling on the negative, I'll add to my list of routine activities to check and edit both my trigger and thinking list to ensure that they remain constantly relevant and can provide fresh new things to exert my mind towards. Perhaps then I'll be more interested in thinking about the things on my thinking list.

Additionally, I've noticed that I have next to no difficulties in keeping my mind occupied while I'm engaged in an intellectual activity, like watching a movie, writing, studying, and so on. I should also strive to keep myself as occupied as possible in these realms to prevent myself from having periods of free thinking.

In fact, I think I could practically use my daydreaming as a guide as to when I should do some pure thinking about something (such as digesting the information from a study subject) or should move straight to the next activity I need to do. I've noticed that the content of my thinking and daydreaming alters pretty well in line with what I need to do. If I find that I'm interested in thinking about a particular subject, barring the Circumstance of course, then I can safely conclude that it is something I should think about. Also, now that I have more control over my daydreaming and have strengthened my ability to concentrate, when I daydream -- again, barring about the Circumstance -- it could serve as an indication that my mind needs rest. If I start to struggle and cannot comfortably guide my thinking or daydreaming to productive ventures or am dwelling on the Circumstance, then that probably could serve as a sign that I've petered myself out on what pure mental activities I was capable of and so need to get myself to another activity to occupy myself. Reading my mental workings this way may be the best way to comfortably guide my mental processes without straining or forcing myself.

But regardless of which is the most comfortable course to take, I recognize that there might be times in which I simply should exercise discipline and just force myself to guide my mental processes with the best of my will. Such moments will be extremely uncomfortable ones, but if my above musings are correct, then the amount of these moments can be potentially minimized, if not stopped altogether.

Success in this realm means being yet another step closer to my idealized self. It is of question as to how my mental state will be once I complete my Project and the Circumstance will have ceased affecting me, but for now I'm content to concentrate exclusively on dealing with matters as they are for now.

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