Thinking vs. doing: two schools of thought

. 2 min read

Which comes first: thinking or doing?

One ideology claims that thinking won't change anything; it won't solve anything; you only see change when you begin to do things differently. Once you've become accustomed to the new way of doing and made the new way habitual, the new way will infiltrate the way you think - or nullify the effects the old way of thinking. I agree with this, as outlined in the article Thinking about the problem won't solve it.

Then another ideology says that you must see something in your mind first, and then it'll become real. This is law of attraction 101; it's Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich; it's the essence of personal development and setting goals. And I agree with this, as outlined in the article I'll brainwash myself.

Now, here's the twist: these two ideologies aren't mutually exclusive. If they were, I'd be tolerating a cognitive dissonance. And no sane person can tolerate a cognitive dissonance. (Maybe I'm not sane, though.)

So here's my brilliant and mutually inclusive solution to the mind-body thinking vs. doing problem:

In each situation, if dreaming about the best outcome makes you feel good, start with thinking; if not, ditch thinking and go straight to doing.

If you have a problem that you cannot seem to be able to solve by thinking (like depression or lack of purpose), forget it and just start doing something. What you start doing is irrelevant.

If you want to change a particular aspect of your life for the better, think what that "better" looks like and then implement the needed changes in your behavior. If you want a new career, you have to know first what that new career could be. So think about what that new career is and looks like and feels like, and then begin to attract it.

So if you...

...want to feel inspired? You (probably) can't think your way into inspiration, so stop thinking about it, and find inspiring activities by trying different ones.

...want to become rich? Dreaming it up is a powerful tool. See yourself rich in your mind, think about what you would do to get rich, and then go do those things in real life.

...want to overcome an eating disorder? You can't really think your way out of an eating disorder. Stop obsessing about it and focus on the doing, aka challenging your old eating habits.

...want to move to a specific city? Another change where dreaming is beneficial. Think about that city; dream about it; see yourself living there; then watch your actions shift towards making that vision come true.

The solution to each challenge depends on you as an individual. If you can dream the optimal outcome, then dream it, and see how your behavior changes when your thoughts change. But if you can't dream the best situation, forget dreaming and start doing.

Either way, everything is awesome.