Think: Management Is All in the Mind: Does It Matter What We Think from Moment to Moment? or How We Think? the Answer, According to an Increasingly Large and Persuasive Body of Research and Writing Is: More Than You Might Think

By Watkins, Tom | New Zealand Management, July 2004 | Go to article overview

Think: Management Is All in the Mind: Does It Matter What We Think from Moment to Moment? or How We Think? the Answer, According to an Increasingly Large and Persuasive Body of Research and Writing Is: More Than You Might Think


Watkins, Tom, New Zealand Management


Whatever your perspective of the day's events or what you are doing right now, and whatever you want or do next is determined by your thinking and thought systems. You constantly cultivate your thinking and harvest the resulting attitudes.

But, since few of us realise the powerful role our thought processes play in our lives, we seldom gain significant command of them. Mostly, we're unaware that what we think and how we reason are frequent sources of choices that direct energy away from where it is most needed, directing it instead to fruitless efforts.

Unrealistic thinking delivers disappointment. Random or unfocused thought processes produce disorganised, unsystematic behaviour. Pessimistic reasoning or inflexible perfectionism immobilises us with anxiety. The predominantly judgemental, critical or cynical among us are untrusting, and overlook the many things from which we might derive pleasure.

When our thinking and reasoning follow sound logic, methodical processes, mature and psychologically healthy beliefs, we are likely to do whatever is right, enjoy others and the moment.

It is entirely possible to undo whatever unnecessarily complex, adversarial, competitive, harshly judgemental, unfocused or otherwise problematic habits of thoughts and process we learned, to become clearer, more strategic, more critical thinkers.

Out predispositions

We are predisposed to certain ways of thinking, the origins of which can be traced back to great grandparents and generations beyond. Depending on what they passed on, we accept certain conclusions about life, others and ourselves. We notice what we are taught to look for, to make the judgements others made about what we notice, and to have our particular aversions or desires. Our attitudes about life can be summarised as a series of thoughts that we hold to be truths.

Much of this serves our best interests but, some aspects will not. The good news is, it is possible to change our attitudes once we know what they are.

Nothing holds our attitudes in place other than a willingness to retain them. They are not based on absolute truth: they are perceptions based on our individual version of life. They are not in our genes: if they were, they would be identical to those of others in our family. They are not due to our current circumstances: if they were, positive attitudes would be tied to positive circumstances and negative attitudes to difficult circumstances. We all know this isn't universally the case: hardships that others endure do not always cause us adversity. Many people thrive on challenge and some in very difficult circumstances are happy simply to be alive. The key variable is attitude arising from thought.

Paying attention

When we first learn to pay attention to what's on our own mind, we frequently discover and are surprised by a number of useful insights:

* Unnecessary good/bad judgements about our experiences and expectations of future experiences tend to dominate our minds and lock us into mechanical reactions that disallow creative responses. Many have no objective basis at all.

* Many of our thought processes do not resemble skilful, critical thinking; they are unhelpfully random, reactive, disorganised and improvisational.

* We can learn to alter our attitudes, feelings and desires. This enables us to reduce our stress levels, make better decisions, solve problems more efficiently, plan and act more constructively, reduce friction in relationships and get better results from collaboration.

Once we see how little there is holding our predisposition to certain attitudes in place we can start challenging our thoughts. Although it takes strength and wisdom to distrust habitual thinking, when we stop using our ability to think against ourselves or to decide that there are only habitual ways of doing or regarding things, we are left with healthy psychological functioning--the most natural state of mind. …

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