Metacognition: Thinking About Your Thinking

Summary: “Think about your thinking.” 

How often do you slow down and seriously reflect on the content and quality of your thinking? Most people live busy, cluttered, chaotic, stressful lives nowadays; so my guess is that most don’t spend too much time reflecting on such matters. If you are one of these people, slow down for a moment, take a deep breath, relax, and think about the following statement.

“Nothing can come from corn but corn.”

Okay, I know this is a corny statement, but this happens to be one of my favorite statements from a book titled As A Man Thinketh by James Allen. First of all, James was definitely not among the masses caught up in chaos. He got up an hour before dawn each day and walked to the hills overlooking his village and the sea…and thought about his thoughts. Biographers describing his daily routine often said he would go to the hills and meditate. However, if you read his works, he seemed to be doing the opposite of meditating. Meditation is about clearing your mind of thoughts. Rather than clearing his mind, James would focus on a specific thought (such as, nothing can come from corn but corn) in an effort to clarify and anchor his beliefs related to the thought. Here’s one of his conclusions related to thinking about corn:

“A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.

Thus, nothing comes from corn but corn. Think about it!

James also clearly articulated the significant benefits of thinking about your thinking: “Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. Its presence is an indication of ripened experience, and of a more than ordinary knowledge of the laws and operations of thought. The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. People will always prefer to deal with a man whose demeanor is equable. He is like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land, or a sheltering rock in a storm.

I encourage you to get in the habit of thinking about your thinking. Especially your thinking related to your career, marriage, parenting, relationships, money, religion, politics, success and happiness. Spending a little high-quality time with your mind will help you escape the chaos and become “like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land.” A version of Allen’s book titled As A Woman Thinketh is also available for those of you with no Y chromosome.

Joyfully participate in life today…Chris

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