The title of this article might sound a little strange, because you might say, "well everybody thinks," or "you can't teach someone how to think." The fact is that everyone does not "think" in the true sense of the word and because of that, you most certainly can teach people to think. You need to be aware that while we all believe we are thinking we actually are not. Here's why this is.
Stimuli comes from all around us and is fed into our minds by our five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. There is a barrage of information being processed by those five senses and our brains get to sort out what it wants to take notice of and what it doesn't, but all the while, its busy assimilating all that information. When most of us are thinking about things, it's more likely we are thinking about what is being fed into our brains from what is going on around us, so it's always active. We mistake this for thinking, when it's really not thinking. It's just that our minds are being kept busy.
While it's quite usual to mistake this mental activity for thinking, the fact of the matter is that true thinking only occurs when we are deprived of external stimuli and are able to access that part of our minds that enable creative thought. This is deep thinking that comes of allowing our minds to become quiet and still and the allowing our true creative faculty to begin creating thoughts that we can use for good or ill as we choose.
What happens with people who are unsuccessful in most if not all areas in their lives is that they allow their thoughts to be directed by all that external stimuli. It comes from the people around us, our environment, the television and radio, newspapers, magazines and books, computers and many other kinds of media and reality situations. When that is happening, those people are not in control of their thought, but are allowing their thoughts to be controlled by what is going on around them.
When that happens, our emotions are affected by what our thoughts are generating. If we are always watching the TV news, it is generally bad news because that's what attracts most viewers.
Bad News Equals Bad Thoughts
All that bad news is entering our thoughts and filling them with a kind of reality that we find ourselves irresistibly drawn into. What happens when we are thinking about all that bad news, all the poverty in the world, all the wars, terrorism, acts of violence against innocents etc is that we get so drawn into those stories, we get mad at them. Often that anger turns white hot and we sit there in front of the TV set seething with anger at the injustice in the world.
When we are so angry and resentful inside because of what our thoughts are being driven by, we experience those strong, negative emotions and as a consequence, our bodies are degraded and we become depressed and sad along with it. Prolonged exposure to this kind of stimulus can cause high levels of stress in people and that can result in all kinds of negative physical manifestations. These include high blood pressure and strokes, indigestion, allergic reactions, depression and a lowering of the immune system which allows disease to gain more easy access to our bodies.
Do you want all this?
Of course you don't. Nobody does. But few people realize that a simple shift in their lifestyle can change all that. It's simple. Just stop watching TV news and do not read newspapers!
You may want to argue that you need to keep informed and you may be right. But you don't need to be inundated with all this bad news. You need to know when to switch off and not let yourself get drawn into all the bad news that is going on. Because, when you really think it through, there is nothing you can do about it. You can't single handed stop all the injustices and antisocial acts that are going on in other parts of the country or in other countries. So what is the point in making yourself ill over them?
Retrain Your Brain
To think rightly, you need to retrain your brain to stop being driven by external stimuli and to start taking more time to drive your own thoughts by what you want to think about. You have the power to do that. They are your thoughts and you get to say what they are!
The great part about this is that you don't even need to force bad thoughts out of your mind. It goes back to what I was saying in the previous article in Getting Started, where I said what you should do if you go into a dark room and you want to get rid of the darkness. You don't fight the darkness, you turn on the light!
It's the same with your thoughts. You don't fight the bad thoughts. You simply fill your head with good thoughts and by default the bad thoughts get crowded out and can't get back in as long as you continue thinking only good thoughts!
This is how you are going to learn how to think rightly. By consciously choosing your thoughts as much as you can and making those choices good, happy thoughts! Don't expect to be able to do it right away. It takes practice. But in time, the more you practice thinking good thoughts, the more good thoughts you will find yourself automatically thinking about. And the bad thoughts will become fewer and fewer as you go on.