What To Think About

Critical thinking is not how to think, as it’s most commonly described, but what to think, or more to the point – how to choose what to think about?

This is, for me at least, the key takeaway from the famous “Water Speech” by David Foster Wallace. I think that DFW posits that awareness, in the mindfulness sense, is an effective mechanism for choosing what to think about. Awareness of the mind itself, this is critical thinking.

Bear with me, because this is related to how you think about marketing your business, which I get to at the end of this article.

A background in mindfulness helps here – knowing that its function is to let your brain be the sentry for not just thoughts that come into it, but feelings. Because life is far from fair and that’s sad, frustrating, enraging, etc.

Enough mildly annoying things can create terror or rage if you stack them up in the mind of someone not realizing that “this is water”, not aware of the monkey voice in its head that talks too much and the monkey heart in its heart that feels too much, too easily.

In contrast, great ideas are just combinations of 1000 small (but good) ideas – one of the great assertions in Bryan Collins’ The Power of Creativity.

Also known as, “that’s a good point” ideas.

But to let those good points flourish (and maybe form a great idea someday), you have to choose carefully what you think about, take the petty bullshit of daily adult life in stride.

With the help of absurd good luck, I engineered my life never to have to report to an office or do a commute as described comically and cynically by DFW in this speech.

But thoughtfulness-destroying tedium can encroach anywhere. Just as mindfulness can be skillfully deployed, as Thich Nhat Hanh asserts, “outside the temple”.

“I’m bored” and “I’m enchanted” can live right next to each other, that’s the thing about marketing. Enchantment is related to charming, which is to delight others while also feeling delighted.

Your business at some point brought you delight, I hope.

So tapping into that delight is a great place to start your marketing. Use David Foster Wallace’s critical thinking to get there.