Become a strong independent thinker

Never before have our minds been so ambushed from all directions, constantly. With all the emotionally-charged noise out there, social media, fake news, echo chambers, amplified fear, us Vs them mentality, and volume turned up on biases, it can be hard to stop the external environment from owning your thinking.

And there’s no doubt it’s incentivised to do so!

And you wouldn’t even realise it if it did. Like being in ‘The Matrix’. You’d be blissfully ignorant. That’s all of us, right now, in at least some areas.

But if you want, you can fight it back.

Doing these three things increases your chances of owning your thinking, having strong independent thought, and finding signal amongst the noise:

1. Be fastidious about the truth.

Pretending, and sharing ‘your truth’ (ie not the actual truth – otherwise you’d just call it ‘the truth’ but you know it’s not) is contagious. Whether for kindness, social acceptance, laziness or avoidance of thinking, or just deeper connection with people, there’s a growing army of people who are aggressively defending nonsense, and protecting, spreading and growing vulnerabilities – and it impacts all of us.

One problem they’ll walk into by insisting upon this game of allowing anyone’s nonsense, is that they’ll inevitably be negatively impacted by someone else’s nonsense at some stage. And they won’t like it.

2. Resist being told what to think.

“Don’t you tell me what to think!” is a healthy response to that. We’re all sleepwalking into bad ideas and it’s easy to believe them. It’s useful to be more aware of what’s influencing your thoughts and behaviours.

E.g. most social media and much tech is being designed to provoke you and to make your addicted. It thrives by taking your attention. Logic makes us think, emotions make us act. Social media prefers you to comment than to click ‘like’, because comments get more and longer attention, and create more engagement. So they push out the things that will stir conflict, press your buttons, and provoke you into commenting.

Look around you. What else is trying to steer your thinking for its own benefit? How much of it has been positioned to pull the wool over your eyes for it’s own benefit?

It’s helpful to not go with your first thoughts. And helpful thinking trump’s unhelpful thinking.

3. Grow curiosity.

Some people have it more than others. But everyone can ramp it up by asking more questions. Like a toddler. Keep asking “why?” Keep spinning through the 7 W’s. Keep using the 4 B’s. Keep digging for understanding. The more curious you start, the more curious you become. Don’t settle for a short nonsense answer that shuts the pursuit of truth down.

Practice these three things, purposefully. And enjoy what comes of it.

Oh, one downside. These things won’t make you popular with the masses of zombies out there all biting each other. And occasionally it may even frustrate those close to you, if you call out nonsense. So be careful. And seek to understand first. Then decide how much you care about them and what they’re thinking.

It’s true that people don’t like feeling stupid. (But seem happy to buy into stupid things).

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