Posts Tagged ‘thinking’

I am not my thoughts

July 30, 2017

The philosopher Descartes believed that he had found the most fundamental truth when he made his famous statement: “I think, therefore I am.” He had, in fact, given expression to the most basic error: to equate thinking with Being and identity with thinking.

Enlightenment is not only the end of suffering and of continuous conflict within and without, but also the end of the dreadful enslavement to incessant thinking. What an incredible liberation this is!

Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

How to stop thinking – give attention to your breathing

August 9, 2016

Eckhart Tolle has a really interesting perspective on thinking (thoughts). His perspective is that thoughts are a tool (a very useful tool, certainly, but a tool nonetheless). We either control the tool or it controls us. To bring about some measure of control to this tool, we need a way of turning it off (i.e., stop thinking). There is a simple way to achieve this: give attention to your breathing. It turns out that you can’t simultaneously attend to your breathing and think.

Perhaps constant, compulsive thinking brings on mental fatigue. By periodically stopping thinking, we can have more freshness in our thinking.

A programming language that makes you smarter

July 12, 2015

A programming language is, well, a language.

It is a formal, structured language.

It has been my experience that if one immerses oneself in a language — any formal, structured language — it influences the mind.

Hypothesis: some languages influence the mind more positively, beneficially than others.

What programming language do you feel has the most positive, beneficial influence on one’s mind and thought process?

The more you multitask, the worse you get at thinking deeply

December 29, 2013

When Stanford professor Clifford Nass began noticing his students clacking away on computers during lecture and texting under the table in class discussions, his first reaction was envy. “I started out with jealousy seeing they could do all these things that I couldn’t,” he says, marveling at their ability to check Twitter, update their Facebook pages, and ostensibly pay attention in class all at once.

Fascinated, Nass decided to investigate: what was it about his students’ brains that made them so good at multitasking? The results shocked him. As it turned out, being surrounded by so much information wasn’t helping them multitask at all – in fact, it was making them worse at it. “They’re actually hurting themselves,” Nass says. “They’re actually doing worse along all cognitive dimensions one would expect, including the ability to multitask.”

Nass isn’t alone in coming to this conclusion. When author Nicholas Carr began noticing that his attention span became shorter and shorter the more he used the Internet, he, like Nass, dug into the research. The result was a frightening conclusion: as we attempt to multitask more, our brains adjust, optimizing for constant distraction. In the process, however, we also lose the ability to focus and think deeply.

More …

Think better and deeper thoughts while walking

September 1, 2013

Today (Sunday morning) I went for a 90 minute walk through a nice nature trail with a friend.

During the walk we discussed varied topics, such as the three theories of aging and the moving blueberry harvest season.

It was a wonderful walk and a delicious discussion.

While walking it occurred to me that, “This is an ideal environment for discussing and exchanging ideas. Everyone is relaxed. The mild exercise makes my brain sharp.”

Contrast with sitting in a room, staring at each other across a table. That is a very uncomfortable environment. It puts pressure on everyone to try to be profound and sound intelligent.

I propose that all meetings be turned into walking meetings. The entire group should go outside and walk and talk. I suspect that meetings would be more productive that way.

I suggest that researchers could better explore deep problems if they spent more time discussing while walking.

I want to find someone interested in deep discussions on various topics in Computer Science, such as computability, complexity theory, parsing, XML. Actually, anything math- and science-related would be great. If you enjoy walking, deep thoughts, and live in the Boston to southern New Hampshire area please drop me a note.

From Mark Twain’s “A Tramp Abroad”:

“Now, the true charm of pedestrianism does not lie in the walking, or in the scenery, but in the talking. The walking is good to time the movement of the tongue by, and to keep the blood and the brain stirred up and active; the scenery and the woodsy smells are good to bear in upon a man an unconscious and unobtrusive charm and solace to eye and soul and sense; but the supreme pleasure comes from the talk. It is no matter whether one talks wisdom or nonsense, the case is the same, the bulk of the enjoyment lies in the wagging of the gladsome jaw and the flapping of the sympathetic ear.

And what motley variety of subjects a couple of people will casually rake over in the course of a day’s tramp! There being no constraint, a change of subject is always in order, and so a body is not likely to keep pegging at a single topic until it grows tiresome. We discussed everything we knew, during the first fifteen or twenty minutes, that morning, and then branched out into the glad, free, boundless realm of the things we were not certain about.”