Some thoughts are so profound they just must be shared, without trying to make them yours….
The Battle for Our Minds
By Clay Collins
The battle for our minds usually isn’t a struggle against brainwashing (although most of us are mildly brainwashed). The battle for our minds isn’t usually about politics, consumer culture, and mass media. Nope. The battle for our minds is fought out every day in the workplace, and due largely to…
The Paradox of Intelligence
More intelligent people tend to have jobs that require very high levels of mental engagement (not to mention, longer work weeks). If you’re a doctor, lawyer, accountant, consultant, teacher, etc., then chances are your thoughts are consumed by work-related activities (and that you have less-than-average amounts of free time). Highly intelligent people are more likely to exchange their brainpower for money, and less likely to retain much of said brainpower for themselves. They’re more likely to enroll in mentally demanding graduate programs and accept mentally demanding jobs. (In the western world we’re taught that if we have the capacity to be a doctor then it’s somehow a “waste” to work retail, make smoothies for a living, or become a farmer – even though a retailer worker, smoothie maker, or farmer get to own more of their thoughts).
Hence, the paradox of intelligence (POI) says that in general, the more intelligent you are, the less brainpower you’re likely to keep for yourself. The POI says that the smarter you are, the less you keep your mind for yourself. It says that the more intelligent you are, the greater the probability that an employer owns too much of your brainpower. As a result of this paradox, intelligent people are losing the battle for their minds. They simply have less mental energy at the end of the day to ask the bigger questions.
They have less mental energy and time needed to gain perspective. The battle for our minds is really the battle create our own thought destines. The battle for our minds is . . .
The Battle for Own Our Thoughts
The battle for our minds is the battle to think on our own terms and on our own timetable. It’s the battle for freedom to let our minds wander, because the best thoughts emerge from the most unlikely places, and when we’re lavishing ourselves with time. The best thoughts happen when we’re staring out windows and daydreaming; they happen when we’re looking at scenes like this (because we’re really there). They happen when we have perspective. The best thoughts occur when you don’t have to have them, they occur after plenty of rest, they occur when you’re grasping the gestalts of life. The best thoughts occur when we’re mindful of the full immensity of this beautiful thing called existence.
The battle for our thoughts is the battle against our ego’s desire to gain an “important” job; it’s the battle against the very materialism that encourages us to exchange too many of our thoughts for money; and it’s a battle against the collective flattery (of society) that sweet talks us into crazy-busy careers. (Note: This paragraph was highly influenced by a great anti-travel guide I’m reading called Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide. It’s got loads of perspective and I highly recommend it).
The battle for our minds really isn’t about reclaiming brainpower to do our own taxes or solve more Sudoku puzzles. No. The battle for mind is important because. . . We Desperately Lack Perspective
Raoul Vaneigem once wrote that “Everything has [already] been said [and] all our knowledge is essentially banal.” And he’s right. If you read the profound thoughts of any great teacher or leader, you’ll likely find no new knowledge. What you will find, however, is heaps of timeless perspective. You’ll find knowledge deeply rooted in perspective and amplified by perspective. Great thinkers and teachers are great because their perspective forces you to take a second glance at the knowledge you already have. And their perspective is so compelling because it couldn’t have come from anywhere except direct experience.
When workaholics give up their minds each workday in devotion to balancing spreadsheets, selling widgets, arguing cases, etc. it’s not knowledge they’re missing out on. It’s perspective. The kind of perspective that requires variety, and discursive thinking, and morning runs during sunrise. The kind of perspective that requires new experiences, reflection, and carefree conversations with friends.
We desperately lack perspective because we are a society of workaholics, and workaholism is like kryptonite to perspective. (It’s often said that highly intelligent people lack common sense; but I believe they really lack is perspective as a result of handing an unhealthy amount of their brainpower to their bosses).
You Just Can’t Hack Perspective
There are no perspective hacks. None. You just have to suck it up, live a little, and wallow in the mud of life. You have to get your hands dirty with this beautiful business of living. You have to question, meditate, and fail often. You simply have to make space for perspective and hope that it will come eventually. You have to spend time in a manner that would seem self-indulgent to most. There are no perspective shortcuts. Who’s winning the battle for your mind?