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Is thinking overrated?

 
 
richrf
 
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 12:26 am
There really seems to be an overabundance of focus placed on the ability to think. Leaving the definition of thinking aside for the moment (I think most people will know what I am talking about), I have found that when I am not thinking I am at my best.

Examples: hitting a golf ball, playing tennis, practicing Tai Chi, playing pool, shooting baskets. dancing (definitely dancing), singing, playing the piano, drawing, relating to people, finding a healthy lifestyle, playing the stock market, etc. For all these activities, I am using feeling. It is sometimes called being in the zone. It is when I let go of the willfulness to do something, and let my natural body memory take over.

Memory is an very interesting phenomenon and I think it is much more than simple storage of information. And when body memory is permitted to flow, amazing things start happening like sinking eight baskets in a row, or running a pool table.

Anyway, I think that people are missing a lot if they spend their life relying on thinking. Feeling is another way to go. If you haven't been there yet, look for it!

Rich
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 3,724 • Replies: 71
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jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 08:00 am
@richrf,
Isn't it really a matter of understanding when one should apply thinking to a subject or before undertaking an action, and when other sources are "better?" It would be extremely vexing, for example, to require thinking about each step in lifting a fork to my mouth, so eating is best left to habit. But when approaching a major decision about which house to buy for my family, one would want to follow a thoughtful process in making a decision.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 08:12 am
@jgweed,
Ah, but one must apply some serious thinking in when practicing those things, right?

I dig what you're saying - I'm a better drummer when I'm not thinking, per say, but playing off feeling. However, I would not be able to play off feeling as I do had I not spent a great deal of time seriously thinking with my study of the drum set. That study, practice, and serious thinking are what facilitate my ability to play off feeling.

So, I don't see it as feeling vs. thinking, but instead as knowing when to use one and when to use another. Like any tool, they have their place.
0 Replies
 
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 08:21 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;95430 wrote:
Isn't it really a matter of understanding when one should apply thinking to a subject or before undertaking an action, and when other sources are "better?" It would be extremely vexing, for example, to require thinking about each step in lifting a fork to my mouth, so eating is best left to habit. But when approaching a major decision about which house to buy for my family, one would want to follow a thoughtful process in making a decision.


I agree. But one can over think any process. Sometimes you have to let your feelings enter into the game, such as do I really trust this lawyer or agent. I know plenty of people who went through a full due diligence process during purchases only to get swindled at the end. They trusted their sources but they never inquired of themselves.

---------- Post added 10-06-2009 at 09:23 AM ----------

Didymos Thomas;95435 wrote:
Ah, but one must apply some serious thinking in when practicing those things, right?

I dig what you're saying - I'm a better drummer when I'm not thinking, per say, but playing off feeling. However, I would not be able to play off feeling as I do had I not spent a great deal of time seriously thinking with my study of the drum set. That study, practice, and serious thinking are what facilitate my ability to play off feeling.

So, I don't see it as feeling vs. thinking, but instead as knowing when to use one and when to use another. Like any tool, they have their place.


Since we both understand the process, I think we both recognize that at some point it is best to totally let go of the thinking process and let the feeling do its stuff. Now, a good question is what is this feeling that is moving those drumming sticks? Where did this come from? It is different than when practicing with the mind.

Thanks.

Rich
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 08:30 am
@richrf,
richrf;95377 wrote:
There really seems to be an overabundance of focus placed on the ability to think.
Rich


Hmm. I have not noticed that at all. In fact, from what I can tell, it is just the opposite. Look at the Mid-East, for instance. A little more thinking might go a long way there. As Bertrand Russell once said, "Some people would rather die than think...and they do".
0 Replies
 
Adam101
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 08:39 am
@richrf,
I think HARD when I'm playing poker, considering everything I can to conclude to what the other person has and his intentions with what he has, but I base a lot of my decision making off of feelings I get. I see someone look at my chips as though they're looking to see how much they can win, and my heart sinks before I even am aware of his actions. I acknowledge my feeling and analyze it along with the observation, but in this case it needs little analysis. It's obvious to me that he probably has a good hand, and I'm able to make a decision quickly on how to react to a bet.

This is the best example I can give, because no matter what, it seems to me that your thoughts and feelings are connected. I think it's impossible to completely let go of either your thoughts or your feelings, but you have to create an action from the information provided from both "senses", because I've noticed, though I'm not 100% sure, that all actions are based off of our thoughts and feelings. We can't do anything without a feeling--an emotion to distinguish and comprehend reality--and thinking about that feeling, or thinking and producing a feeling for that thought.

All of our actions are based off of thoughts and feelings. I doubt one could ever completely suppress either, though it's fun to practice in meditation.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 08:41 am
@Adam101,
Mostly, muscle memory. Instead of thinking about which pattern to play, the patterns are natural due to muscle memory so I am able to reproduce them without much thought - they just come because they fit the music. Muscle memory is the key.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 09:32 am
@richrf,
My son does a LOT of thinking when he walks around, because he just learned how to do it. He watches his feet, he's cautious, he thinks about new things to try. You're not going to get innately good at any skill without concentrating on it first.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 09:34 am
@Aedes,
Yeah, exactly, what the doctor said. Practice makes perfect and what not.
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 09:41 am
@richrf,
This thread is convinced that when one is feeling during an activity, one isn't thinking?

The activities mentioned are not involuntary, and even if you're learned in drumming, for instance, you're still thinking about the rhythm and movement. Feeling can influence any of those activities mentioned, allowing for a... uniqueness, found in all things of art, but it doesn't mean there aren't thinking processes going on in the midst.

I don't see how there couldn't be.

I think, however, when we say "think" here, we are referring to a focus on the process. So, when you guys say, "I don't use thinking here, I use feeling", I think you guys mean, you aren't focusing on thinking. That is, perhaps, you aren't thinking intently, with will, drive, and perhaps, even, you aren't all that aware of it happening. But it still is, isn't it?
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 09:50 am
@Zetherin,
This is a definitional problem. I don't mean brain activity when I say thinking, and I don't mean the lack thereof when feeling. It's something different.

It's almost like, well, when you drive and all of the sudden you realize that you have no idea what you have been doing for the past few minutes, aside from some daydreaming. It's scary, right? The feeling, acting by feeling, is something very much like that - except it's really fun.

I don't use the word thinking, although in a strict sense thinking does occur, because there is no clear process; I'm not making conscious decisions over which note to play. They just come because they feel right, maybe my subconscious hitting the right groove... or the wrong one, depends on the night I guess.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 09:56 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;95474 wrote:
It's almost like, well, when you drive and all of the sudden you realize that you have no idea what you have been doing for the past few minutes, aside from some daydreaming. It's scary, right? The feeling, acting by feeling, is something very much like that - except it's really fun.
That's exactly the same thing. In psychiatry they'd call it a dissociative phenomenon, i.e. when you zone out. It's what happens to people with the frightening disease dissociative fugue, but it happens to normal people too during tasks like the ones described. That just bespeaks lack of self-awareness or concentration during the process, though. Perhaps when driving a 2000 pound machine at 60 mph, absence of thought is a problem.
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 09:57 am
@richrf,
Didymos Thomas;95474 wrote:
This is a definitional problem. I don't mean brain activity when I say thinking, and I don't mean the lack thereof when feeling. It's something different.

It's almost like, well, when you drive and all of the sudden you realize that you have no idea what you have been doing for the past few minutes, aside from some daydreaming. It's scary, right? The feeling, acting by feeling, is something very much like that - except it's really fun.

I don't use the word thinking, although in a strict sense thinking does occur, because there is no clear process; I'm not making conscious decisions over which note to play. They just come because they feel right, maybe my subconscious hitting the right groove... or the wrong one, depends on the night I guess.


Yeah, I edited my last post because I began to realize what was meant.

You aren't deliberating which drum to hit next, it just happens, through quick reflexes intertwined with emotion (I think your subconscious theory works, though I'm not exactly sure about all that encompasses "subconscious"). I understand. It's certainly not the same kind of process we would assign to the solving of a calculus problem. And that distinction was what richrf was trying to make here, right?

Aedes wrote:

That's exactly the same thing. In psychiatry they'd call it a dissociative phenomenon, i.e. when you zone out. It's what happens to people with the frightening disease dissociative fugue, but it happens to normal people too during tasks like the ones described. That just bespeaks lack of self-awareness or concentration during the process, though. Perhaps when driving a 2000 pound machine at 60 mph, absence of thought is a problem.


Oh, dissociative phenomenom. Well, that sounds fancy enough. Not too descriptive, but definitely psychiatrically sophisticated. I'll take it.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 09:59 am
@Aedes,
Oh, definitely a problem. And your explanation highlights an important difference between zoning out while driving, and one of these other activities, like drumming or tennis perhaps. The issue is not lack of concentration or self-awareness. In drumming (I don't play tennis so I don't know) it's concentration on others, what the other players are doing, and losing that sense of self-awareness in the process. You're too busy concentrating on the others to notice yourself, so you just act as necessary, as you have trained yourself to act.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 10:00 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;95481 wrote:
It's certainly not the same kind of process we would assign to the solving of a calculus problem.
Though some might. Some people have such a facility with mathematical logic, musical logic, etc, that they can do it very naturally. I dated a classical musician when I was in college, and she was able to pick up and analyze scores just by looking at the page. That kind of understanding allows self-conscious thought and concentration to be subordinated to a bigger picture.

---------- Post added 10-06-2009 at 12:03 PM ----------

Zetherin;95481 wrote:
Oh, dissociative phenomenom. Well, that sounds fancy enough. Not too descriptive, but definitely psychiatrically sophisticated. I'll take it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociation_(psychology)

Dissociation is normal, but there are several fascinating diseases of dissociation -- fugue state, multiple personality disorder, amnesia, and (my favorite) dissociative trance disorder.

Dissociative disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dissociative trance disorder is one that I read a paper about a number of years ago -- they discovered dissociative-type disorders in Italian patients who were under treatment by exorcists. I could probably find the paper again if I look.
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 11:02 am
@richrf,
Aedes wrote:

Though some might. Some people have such a facility with mathematical logic, musical logic, etc, that they can do it very naturally. I dated a classical musician when I was in college, and she was able to pick up and analyze scores just by looking at the page. That kind of understanding allows self-conscious thought and concentration to be subordinated to a bigger picture.



Good point. But is this subordination to a bigger picture the same as the type of feeling-driven action we're speaking about here? Even if one can compute and demonstrate mathematical theory on a whim, does that mean they're "following their feelings" in the same sense as we were suggesting one does, with say, drumming?

Would you consider your mistress' ability to understand musical theory without conscious thought a form of dissociation? If so, how is this dissociation similar (or different) to the dissociation we were just referring to with the drumming example?
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 11:35 am
@richrf,
I think it's a 'normal' dissociation. It can be done effortlessly. I'm a native English speaker, and I can speak English without (usually) searching for words. I am a very proficient Spanish speaker, but sometimes I do need to concentrate to find the words. I also speak a little French, but I need to heavily search for words when speaking French.

Mathematical notation and musical notation are ways of expressing certain ideas, and there are people who have such facility with them that they can dissociate the way a drummer might.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 11:53 am
@Aedes,
The way a drummer must, really. Unless the song is prearranged, a drummer, and any musician, must be able to fly on natural instinct.
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 12:21 pm
@richrf,
Aedes wrote:

Mathematical notation and musical notation are ways of expressing certain ideas, and there are people who have such facility with them that they can dissociate the way a drummer might.


Do they dissociate as a drummer might? It seems as though there's a difference. There's a creative, artistic, feeling-driven expression involved with drumming. Isn't this different than the expression in the calculating of a math problem? It seems with the latter one is almost mindlessly (not synonymous with stupidly) going through the motions if they're proficient enough, but with the former, proficiency seems to drum to different beat. Another type of dissociation perhaps, possibly in another part of the brain?
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 12:27 pm
@Zetherin,
I would imagine that for those who are intense mathematicians the feeling is quite the same. The same for anyone of passion.
 

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