Sunday, February 12, 2017

On Clear Thinking

Discus - King of Freshwater Fish (My favorite btw)
Copyright Tom Bailey 
I had breakfast this week with a friend, and he shared with me how he's been reflecting on how important it is in sports that one just get into the zone, into the zen, meaning, one needs to execute without thinking about it. I think I have two tips for better thinking. 1) Throw out junk in your life and 2) exercise for long periods of time.

I feel like these last two weeks, my thinking has been a lot clearer. It's probably because I've been clearing out junk in my life.

In the last two weeks, after working a few hours, I would go home and clear out my garage. I didn't have that much stuff (at least compared to other people I know), but it's been an accumulation of things from age 16 until 30. That's 14 years of stuff. (I wrote a blog post about this earlier - On Simplicity.) I threw 80 percent of it out, which resulted in four more boxes of books and three trash bins worth of stuff. In total, I've donated now 10 boxes of books.

Ridding myself of my possessions really made me feel better, lighter, and somehow cleared my head. People don't tell you that having junk actually has a negative costs, because it clouds your thinking somehow. So, when you think an item has potential value, keep in mind, it also has a negative value just for having it.

Secondly, I've been running an extraordinary amount. And that's helped a lot, as well. Walking and running for long periods of exercise also seems to clear the mind.

One of my most influential teachers in life was my microbiology professor, and I would always see him run around campus around 10PM to 12:00AM. Coincidentally, he also was one of the most published professors at the university. It's amazing how many thoughts just pop into your head, when you exercise for such long periods of time.

So, that's my insights for this week. If you get stuck on a problem, exercise more and throw out more junk. It helps heaps. And even though doing so won't turn you into an Einstein, I'm convinced that it helps one perform at one's most optimal level.

The fish I posted in this article is called a discus; I used to have one. I would like a fish tank full of them, but seeing they come from the Amazon Rainforest, the water has to have acidic pH. Here, in Baldwin Park, the tap water is polluted and highly alkaline. So, they die. So, without a reverse osmosis unit, it's impossible to own these fish.

In any event, I've never seen a fish swim so gracefully and with so much calm. And in my head, that's what clear thinking looks like. Grace and calm. 

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