PM Quote of the Day — Anonymous Mom

Son, you’ve always been quite the thinker.  When and if you ever start thinking clearly, I’ll be very excited for you. 

A friend passed this along when we were comparing our penchants for over-thinking and over-worrying.  It was a somewhat pathetic, if knowing, conversation; in a way, it was as if we were two old men telling fish stories.  

We both marveled about how easy it was for us to get into “thinking trances”.  For me, these feel as if I’m mesmerized by the high-pitched whine of the hamster wheel in my head spinning.  For him, the feelings brought to mind a metaphor I can’t come close to repeating on this family-friendly blog.

Remembering his mom’s gentle rebuke has helped my friend realize that thinking for thinking’s sake isn’t very productive.  Climbing a wall of worry might be good for the stock market — and my 401-K sure could use a good worry wall right about now — but it has never done much good for me or my friend.

Overthinking and Decision Making

Ah, the dubious pleasures of overthinking…  I recently had been reminded of my overthinking pathology by someone who has known me a while (BTW, if you’re reading this I hope you’re well and taking care); so I smiled with recognition when I read this Wall Street Journal’s article (here).

There’s a lot of grist for the ol’ noggin, but in the spirit of not indulging this character defect, here are a couple of passages that caught my eye:

Dutch researchers … recently found that people struggling to make relatively complicated consumer choices — which car to buy, apartment to rent or vacation to take — appeared to make sounder decisions when they were distracted and unable to focus consciously on the problem.

These days, I try to take advantage of this by deliberately distracting myself when I have decisions to make and situations to meet.  A brief walk, a little puttering in my garden, or a small prayer or meditation — sometimes all three, a little ora et labora — do wonders to get my mind off the issue.  Which is exactly what I need to do.

Moreover, the more factors to be considered in a decision, the more likely the unconscious brain handled it all better…  “The idea that conscious deliberation before making a decision is always good is simply one of those illusions consciousness creates for us,” Dr. Dijksterhuis said.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked myself into something stupid because I’ve “thought it over a bit.”  Some of the worst mistakes I’ve made caused when I tried to be too clever by half about a response.  You know, saying something that is “true,” but not the “whole truth.”

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