When Thinking Is Overrated
September 28th, 2011

How much thinking do you do on a daily basis?  And how much reacting do you do?

According to Russel Bishop’s article on The Huffington Post our brains are often on autopilot as we react to circumstances around us and we do little actual thinking.  His premise is that this is a bad thing – that “mindless and emotional” responses are somehow inferior to the active processes of observation, assessment, and course correction.

You don’t have look beyond the title of this blog to realize that I’m an advocate of thinking.  I believe there is value in exploring new topics and our beliefs and opinions about them.  However, I’m also an advocate of efficiency and economy of thought.  It seems to me that  this “mindless” reaction saves us a lot of time and effort.  I think that most of our reactions may be mindless in the moment, but only because we are relying on prior earnest legitimate thoughts.

When I drive to work each morning I don’t think about my route because I’ve already thought it through.  When I hear a political pundit say something I know nearly instantly what my response is.  This isn’t because I’m too lazy to truly consider my position, but because I’ve already done so and am leveraging prior mental work.  And when I react in a crisis I believe that my instinctive response is much more valuable in its timeliness than an exhaustive contemplation of the situation would have been in its thoroughness.*

As we make our way throughout a week or a month or a year we encounter many of the same situations over and over.  We see the same people, go to the same places, and confront the same problems.  There is no reason to approach each instance as though it were the first; that would be an incredible waste of time and energy.

So while I will continue to wave the flag of Ten Dollar Thoughts, I’m also here to say that there are plenty of times when thinking is overrated, and when our mindless and cursory reactions serve us just fine.

*To this end, I found the author’s example of first responders to be completely off-point.

2 Responses to “When Thinking Is Overrated”

  1. BigLittleWolf Says:

    Love this post. Just smiling…

    Who says that thinking and feeling aren’t entirely compatible, and that there is a place for efficiency of thought and the unveiled reaction, the meandering musing, the frenetic fancy over nothing much – simply because it’s human.

  2. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    I’m a big fan of autopilot. I don’t like to stay in my brain too long. It’s a taxing place to be.