Find A Special Place to Think

Our brain processes an unlimited amount of information everyday.  Think aboutFind Your Special Place it.  Data coming at us through our work, radio, social media, newspapers, commute time, television, video and the list goes on.  

How can anyone keep up with it all?  In Shawn Achor’s, bestselling book Before Happiness,  we can benefit from some very helpful tips he gives on how to separate the noise from the valuable. Before sharing them, I would like to first highlight something he doesn’t mention which I feel is really important.  That is to create a special place dedicated to helping you to do your best thinking! I have several “thinking places” because my topics vary and require a different kind atmosphere.  When it comes to thinking and planning around life and family, there isn’t a better place than my old brown leather sofa at home.  I love its big “end arm” that allows me to curl up with a warm blanket and my favorite tea with honey and just a pinch of sugar.  It is also here where I pray.  Not only is it important to have a special place to think, but the time dedicated to do the thinking.  For me, family and prayer thinking time usually happens very early in the morning (swap the tea for coffee) or very late at night. And for work – it’s the treadmill.  I am big Paul Simon fan and I love to think while listening to tunes like Me and Julio Down By the School Yard or She’s Got Diamonds in the Soles of Her Shoes. The music is fun, cheery with a great beat – and I always finish with some new ideas or possible solutions to whatever I am working on.  Yes, identifying a special place to think about things is really important.  But to be successful – you will have to block out the noise.  For family and prayerful thinking, the television is off and all is pretty quiet.  Treadmill thinking is the exact opposite – music is loud with lots of people movement at the gym.  But in either place, my mind is focused only on those things – I cancel any “noise” that could distract me.achor 

Now for Shawn’s tips on how to “cancel” the noise so that you are better equipped at taking in information that is going to provide some value:

Don’t Take in the Unusable: Only take in information that will REALLY alter some aspect of your behavior.  Sadly, most of the information that floods your brain on a daily or even an hourly basis fits into the “unusable” category.  For example, don’t dwell on news stories about events that you cannot do anything about through a continuous change in your behavior (something that would alter what you do regularly).

Avoid the Untimely: Don’t take in information that you aren’t going to use imminently. If you intend to hold stocks for the long run, why check the stock market each day?

Hypothetical: It is based on what someone believes “could be” instead of “what is.” Economic and weather forecasts head the list. “What if you could have back all the minutes of your life you’ve spent listening to predictions – 90 per cent of which have been wrong?” he asks in the book.

Anything Distracting: It takes you away from your goals. Things that distract me include dumb emails; meeting invitations that are not directly tied to my own work priorities and goals, too much “water cooler” chatter, annoying commuters (yes I will definitely get up and move if I am sitting next to Ms. Sniffles).

Shawn’s book is chock full of recommendations and tips on how to ensure happiness. The Happiness Advantage is also a great read. It is not that he wants us to shut the world out, but to focus on the things that are really meaningful,” And to bookend that, TRUTHSTOINSPIRE recommends that you create a special place just to think about whatever is really important after you’ve blocked out all the noise.  Thinking about prayer, family, home, or work matters are really worth creating that special place for you to do your best thinking.


The Penny…

If you have ever walked through New York’s Penn Station during rush hour, youpenny would know to walk fast and watch where you are going.  Every day an estimated 500,000 people travel under its roof to reach their destination.  I have been traveling through Penn for over twenty years.  This particular day was no different from any other.  I headed home from work determined as I always am to catch my train.  As I slid my metro card and pushed through the turnstile, I couldn’t help but notice a penny shining brightly on the floor.  It just stood out against the dark ground.  As countless people continued to step past it, one hand was carefully reaching down to pick it up trying not get stepped on by all the running feet.  It was the hand of an old man carrying what looked like everything he owned in one bag.  This whole scene was happening quickly.  People rushing.  The old man trying to bend low enough to reach the penny. My heart broke.  I knew I had a few dollars in my bag and I thought to give them to him.  But in the instant I turned away, he was gone.  And so was the penny.  I looked right and left but didn’t see him.  He left an imprint on my mind. The picture of an old man – poor – struggling to reach down far enough to pick up a penny.  The same one hundreds probably did not notice was there.

Friends,  I thought about how the small things in life often don’t seem important enough to win our attention to notice them.  Be it a shiny penny or the wind gently blowing the leaves on the trees.  Lets take the time to notice and appreciate these things-when we do – they reward us with much happiness. In return, they give us a sense of appreciation for all that we have.  It is usually the small things, the simple things that make us the happiest.