What do you get from what you’ve learned? You’ll get more if you invest time reflecting on your experiences.
Sit down and think. Meditate on a problem and one hundred percent of the time you will discover a new angle. Insights come bounding toward the quieted mind.
We spend so much time in front of a computer or television. We invest so little time reflecting on experiences. It’s harder work, but it’s what brings us lasting benefit.
Even within your own memory there are things you could discover. There are things you would be surprised to learn. Journaling can disentangle a confusing topic. Meditation can be like journaling, but at the pace of thought instead of pen.
Go to a quiet area. Sit in a comfortable position. Put on a timer for 15 minutes or so. Close your eyes and think as deeply as possible on the problem. You will make progress. I always have.
Dreams do this work too. They are reinterpretations of your experience. If you prevent a man from dreaming he will grow grumpy and eventually die. The same applies to dreams in waking life that give you hope. You need dreams.
Dreams reorganize the experiences you’ve had. They place them in a different context and help your unconscious make connections that are difficult to perceive directly.
When you meditate, you can access some of that capability. You acquire new insights available only to the quieted and directed mind.
Many times you can sleep on a problem and wake up with a new way to think about it. The brain is fantastic. It’s the most complicated machine on this planet. It deduces and applies patterns without anything forcing it. The brain seems to want to learn.
You can’t unlearn. Ignorance dissolves to nuance. It’s like digging a rut into the ground. Unless you dig a deeper rut nearby, water will continue to flow into the first. Old habits die hard. The old must be replaced with the new.
A new perspective will come and shift your thinking. It will apply itself to your action without your conscious will. You can’t help but use what you learn. When it is in line with your beliefs about life it’s easy to follow.
Good philosophy doesn’t have to be applied to your life. It should feel obvious once stated: “Duh, of course this is how it is.”
A thinking human’s most crucial activity is the important, not the mundane. What you consider important frames the rest. Really, we are all naked apes. It doesn’t take much to satisfy us, so concentrate on what specifically does.
Here’s an idea from Steven Pressfield’s, The War of Art:
“I’m keenly aware of the Principle of Priority, which states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important and (b) you must do what’s important first.”
Knowing the difference is hard. Doing the important is hard. They both take commitment. They both take real effort. But doing the important will not make you sorry. Life is most enjoyable when you’ve put in a hard day’s work, not when you’ve acted as a base animal.
Good philosophy applies itself to life. The trick to remember is: the insights never stop.