Habitual thinking: Resting so you can recreate, refresh, renew


I called myself vegging out, watching an Adam Sandler movie recently and ended up feeling like I was in a wildly entertaining master class about habitual thinking…  Inspired by a DVR control and a lot of banal humor.  So, I wrote about how habitual thinking is not in our best interest.

The movie (Click) centered around a DVR controller the hero (Newman) used to try to make his life better, only to find it just memorized his flawed patterns and kept repeating them no matter how much they hurt or what he wanted.

When we tune out, even a little bit, of our own thought processes we become robotic, leaving the best outcome to chance.  I talked in the other post about some pretty common ways most people go on thought default without realizing it, and why that’s not our best.

In the movie, when Newman realized this he was like, “Wait a minute!  So what do I do when this remote just follows my patterns over and over?”  Apparently, he went on autopilot.  He was physically there for his life but mentally, emotionally and spiritually vacant.

Yikes.

That’s what happens to us too… But there’s no blockbuster film distributed to warn others against similar behavior.  And just imagine… If we haven’t been giving life our very best, how awesome would it look if we did!?

We can unlearn bad thought habits, learn good ones and make them work for us instead of against us.  Just like any other habit, we are used to doing it before we decide whether we should.  When we take back that first choice, we can get our very best out of the most important control panel we’ll ever have: Our mind.

This didn’t just happen.  We’re trained for years to become habitual thinkers.  We’re conditioned to execute without thinking about thinking, based on a number of things:  Childhood, information, relationships, education, income, environment, health, physical needs etc.

That’s why before you realize what’s going on, you do certain things.  Maybe you rub your head.  Maybe you laugh joyfully.  Maybe you scream in pain.    Smile with love.  Flip your hair.  Hit in violent anger.  Maybe you do something you don’t think you’d do again if you had time to think about it first.  Maybe you do something amazing you didn’t realize you could.

How?  How do we begin learning good habits?

First and foremost, we rest.

When you’re physically exhausted your body shuts down. You fall asleep.  But first you get drowsy, and start moving less, conserving physical energy.  When we’re mentally exhausted our minds shut down.  But first our thinking gets hazy, and our mind starts moving slower, thinking less.

We can’t take in, receive, refresh, renew, restore or revive ourselves without being rested for the long haul first.  And that doesn’t mean you disappear forever, shirk responsibility, or check out of your life.  Your life is your magnum opus: The greatest work you’ll ever do, and like any epic musical arrangement, the song can not exist without rest.  Our minds can’t function without rest.

We can’t function without mental rest.

Intentional rest taken to refresh and restore is actually productive:  Taking a mental rest actually helps create form and order, not laziness or disorder.

Think about it in terms of classical music: Can you imagine how endless and predictable music would be if every song were one note or even one harmony, sustained forever? That’s our mind without rest.  Music is changing tones, shifting harmonies in time.  And those shifts, if they never have a rhythm of any kind attached to them, have no sense of structure or meaning.

Rhythm is defined by the amount of space between notes, the space (however fleeting or long) between sounds.  That’s our life with intentional renewal and refreshment, produced by rest.

Mind rest is critical.

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5 Replies to “Habitual thinking: Resting so you can recreate, refresh, renew”

  1. hi tina
    i found your page by chance a few months back and i come back to it from time to time, your comments re habitual thinking are so true, we all get up in the act of working and living and to be honest most of the time i find myself going on auto just to get thru the day and hit all my targets re work and family, most of the time it works out ok but the times when it doesnt and your suddenly faced with the consequences of not seeing all thats going on or taking on board changed circumstances can have a devasting impact on how you view yourself as a person. beleive me i speak from personal experience- some questions -how do we acheive mind rest and building new habits can be hard -i know we all can learn new skills but in our busy busy lives it can be so hard to find the time to stop look & listen. I find your writings very thought provoking and you express yourself very cleary and fearlessly your honesty is very refreshing and always gets me to think about my own take on things in a different light.
    kk

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting and for your encouragement. I’ll be sharing ways to change thinking habits over the next few posts, I know you’ll see a change in your life simply because you noticed how important your thinking habits are.

      Blesssings to you.

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