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One way to simplify your thinking

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

One way to simplify your thinking

Scott Miker

We all have the little voice inside of us that seems to ramble on and on.  I’ve heard sales trainers talk about the process of trying control this voice as little voice management.  I’ve heard Buddhist refer to it as Monkey Brain.  Whatever we call it, we can all probably understand this rambling internal voice and the messages it brings. 

Whatever we call it or however we feel about it, we have to gain control over this constant stream of consciousness.  Because it often follows patterns we can use the systems and habits approach to improvement in order to gain control. 

This could be as simple as spending a few minutes a day calming down our mind.  Call it meditation or just relaxing, we can focus our thoughts on our breaths in and out.  As our mind starts to shift we simply shift it back to our breathing. 

This could be a great way to slow down our thoughts.  It can be incredibly relaxing.  When I do this I often feel a strange feeling over my body.  Sometimes my arms and legs feel incredibly heavy.  Sometimes they tingle.  Sometimes they seem to float. 

But gaining control of our mind can’t just be done one time.  We have to form patterns where we start to gain control of our thoughts over time.  One of the best ways to incorporate this is to identify early signs of stress and then turn to a relaxation routine each time.  This can help slow down our thinking and calm the nerves. 

Once we gain this ability to slow down our thinking, then we can start to control what we think about.  We can start to push our body to extremes through exercise and then prove our little voice wrong in its negative self-talk.  The push to quit instead of pushing through can be very real and the voice will use all sorts of tactics to convince us we need to quit.

But if we are always willing to challenge that little voice instead of accepting it’s harmful themes we can slowly start to simplify our thinking.  With simplified thinking we can achieve much more than we could with a cluttered mind. 

Steve Jobs once said, “That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity.  Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean and make it simple.  But it’s worth it in the end because, once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Being able to simplify our thoughts isn’t always easy and certainly doesn’t happen by mistake.  But if we take an active approach to “clean” our thinking we can start to reap the benefits of simplified thinking. 

We can utilize the systems and habits approach to improvement to help improve in this area just as we can use it to help us lose weight or get out of debt.  We can use the principles and concepts and fit them to our current goal.  So if you desire a simplified mind and control over the monkey brain, then start to find small steps to take that you can do over and over again to form new patterns, new structures and new mental models.