Scientists calculated that an average brain makes 25,000-50,000 thoughts a day. (How many of these thoughts are you aware of?) This amount of thoughts means people have between 1,000 and 2,000 thoughts per hour if we include the night. That’s a lot. The brain automatically and reflectively produces these thoughts. One thought quickly follows the other thought. And if we don’t watch out, we are wholly guided by all these thoughts. And not all thoughts are equally meaningful. Of the 1,000 thoughts per hour, many are useless.
Meaningless versus meaningful
This series of thoughts is often the start of being led by the issues of the day. It would be great if all of these thoughts were meaningful. However, those 1,000 thoughts per hour are not all useful. Those thoughts guide us because we often take these thoughts too seriously. That is our habit.
Many of our thoughts stem from the brain’s narrative network. This narrative network is concerned with the invented self. It is our idea of who we think we are. From my perspective, this network mainly produces reactive thoughts. Thoughts that arise automatically from an impulse. These kinds of thoughts come from our conditioning. The question is whether we are our conditioning. And whether we have to take these thoughts so seriously.
Act based on this stream of thoughts
These thoughts are often the source of our actions. So also the source of our activities in the issues of the day. In other words, we are lived by our thinking and by the 1,000 thoughts per hour. In my many years of experience as a leadership trainer, I realised that we pay far too much attention to the content of our thoughts. We take this content far too seriously. This dangerous mindset can easily lead to all sorts of thoughts and actions that are not functional. The attention to the content of the thoughts has become too great and therefore, we feed these reactive thoughts way too much. That promotes the issues of the day. We allow ourselves to be guided more by the content of the thoughts than see these thoughts as an automatic reaction process of our brains.
More attention for recognising
We must, therefore, pay more attention to recognising the emergence of these thoughts rather than responding to what is continually coming our way. And let this stream of thoughts take its course. We must learn to recognise that we always have thoughts and that these thoughts can determine your actions all the time. This continuous stream of thoughts is the issues of the day.
Interrupt the flow with thoughts
Everything starts with dealing with the mind differently! How? By recognising thoughts as thoughts and not going along with the content of the thoughts. That is why I often give my customers the following assignment. Organise the gap. Stop everything six times a day for 5 minutes. Hold still. Try to focus your attention on your breathing, on your body or an external object. What you do precisely does not matter, as long as you stand still and interrupt that continuous stream of thoughts.
Having 1,000 thoughts per hour means 16 thoughts per minute. These thoughts have a lot of influence on your actions. The simple gap exercise ensures that you interrupt this stream of thoughts. Are you skilled at this? Then you will also be able to recognise this stream of thoughts as a stream much more often during work instead of going along with the content of the thoughts.