Who’s Stealing Your Time to Think?

Lessons on utilizing my greatest asset — my mind.

Who’s Stealing Your Time to Think?
Photo by Bret Kavanaugh on Unsplash

Lessons on utilizing my greatest asset — my mind.

I always prided myself on my knack of being productive.

I’d listen to an audiobook while brushing my teeth, reply to emails in the few minutes I had to wait while ordering food, and utilize my walks to complete business calls.

Even when I was resting, I was always “doing” things. Scrolling through Instagram, making lists of things to do during my travels, saving up recipes to try next.

You get the drift.

Barely a minute would go by without me actively engaged in some activity. While all this hustle helped me keep up with my never-ending to-do lists, they barely left me any time to sit and think.

I was fine with this too, until there was a point in my life I was terrified of silence. I was so used to filling my free time with chores, that when I had absolutely nothing to do, I’d be scared I was wasting my life. This certaintly wasn’t healthy.

Even my productivity-obsessed self understood that.

“Our brains are either our greatest assets or our greatest liabilities.” 

This quote by Robert Kiyosaki ​​got me thinking how less time we give to thinking — our brain’s superpower.

Music, podcasts, movies, news, social media doomscrolling — name it, and the distractions are all around us. When we aren’t distracted, we’re busy working, socializing, or engrossed in some chore.

This brings me to the question: When are we giving ourselves time to think?

I don’t mean think about a person, a prospective job, or daydream about an upcoming holiday. When was the last time you sat in solitude and let your thoughts run wild?

We need a movie playing in the background while having food. We can’t drive without listening to music. Some of us need music while showering too.

Drowning in this constant sea of noise, where do we even get the time to think?

The elephant in the room

Sitting and doing nothing is scary.

In the silence, our excuses all crumble. We can no longer take solace in shiny things and pretend everything’s fine. Turning a blind eye to life’s glaring problems is impossible.

When we sit alone with our thoughts, we’re forced to face our demons. We’re compelled to focus on all that we’ve been avoiding.

This idea is so terrifying, that most of us don’t allow silence any space in our lives. We drown ourselves in distractions, so we don’t have to confront our deepest fears.

But what if facing our problems was the first step to getting rid of them?

The solutions won’t come immediately. We have to first acknowledge the problems exist. And this in itself is so scary, that so many of us shy away from it.

When you actually think, you can no longer live in denial.

And the weight of the truth can be so daunting, that a majority of us learn to ignore it and live a life of lies.

Nothing wrong in that. But the question is for you to introspect: What is it that you’re so afraid of confronting that you’re spending all your silent moments in mindless consumption of information?

“Many of us have forgotten (or even fear) quiet. We live in a world full of noise and chatter. A world wherein our daily routines are inundated with distractions and responsibilities.” — Vijay Eswaran, Don’t Underestimate the Power of Silence

The magic of silence

It’s no secret that silence gives our brain the superpower to come up with life-changing ideas.

As Atalanta Beaumont writes in Psychology Today, silence is golden and also good for our health. According to her research,

  • Silence stimulates brain growth
  • Just two minutes of silence can relieve tension
  • Periodic bouts of silence enhance sleep and lessen insomnia
  • Lowering sensory input helps us tap into our creativity better.

I could go on, but you get the gist.

Being silent is scary because it takes away the comfort of living in denial. But it allows us to utilize our biggest asset: our brain.

“All the unhappiness of men arises from one simple fact: that they cannot sit quietly in their chamber.” — Blaise Pascal, French mathematician and philosopher

The magic is in the boring tasks

When we seek to fill our every waking moment with distractions, we’re inherently seeking solace in multi-tasking. The bustle of the world around may have convinced you otherwise, but here’s some food for thought: Do you really need something to distract you from your thoughts all the time?

I came to this realization too late in my life. I’ve written before about how I was 27 when I realized I wasted my life. Living on autopilot and ticking off tasks on never-ending to-do lists gave me no sense of purpose or fulfilment. 

Only when I started being mindful of how I was spending my time, did I realize the lack of direction in my life. I feared it was too late, but fortunately, life gave me a second chance.

Today, I no longer seek comfort in music or an audiobook when I’m walking, cooking, eating, or about to fall asleep.

Being alone with my thoughts still scares me, but I’ve learned that silence is a gift, and I shouldn’t take it lightly.

When I’m not distracted or multi-tasking, simple tasks like taking a walk in nature or preparing my food become deeply spiritual practices. I feel connected with my body and the world around me, and this makes the silence feel like a blessing. 

The trick to turning mundane tasks into meditative experiences is to immerse yourself in them. Don’t seek entertainment or instant gratification from distractions. Enjoy the process and bask in the gift of silence.

Spending time with my thoughts has let me identify the biggest issues in my life. I’m nowhere close to solving them all, but at least I know they exist. This has helped me live a more intentional and spiritually-guided life.

“When you are cleaning you simply, clean. When you are cooking you simply cook. When you are eating you simply eat. When you walk you simply walk.” — The Beauty of Silence: Learning to Live Without Distractions

Silence is a gift. Learn to accept it.

Here are some steps I’m taking to embrace silence and give myself more time to think:

  • Be bored when I’m bored.
  • Go on walks without any electronic device.
  • Spend a few minutes every morning journaling in silence.
  • Have at least one meal a day in silence with no distractions.
  • Be intentional about making showers and baths full-body experiences.

These are baby steps towards living a life where I don’t have to be terrified of my thoughts. It’s hard in today’s world, but I’m being intentional about it.

I know my shortcomings, but at least I’m no longer living life on autopilot.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this: Who’s stealing your time to think? And when you’re immersing yourself in mindless consumption of content, what problem in life are you running away from?

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