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Day 298: Keys to Original Thinking

“If you haven’t experienced it, it’s not true.” -Kabir

A full and vital experience of life requires that it be driven by your own unique and original thinking. I was delighted to discover “The Art of Original Thinking” by Jan Phillips and happy to know that my formula for this positivity quest is indeed a reflection of the deepest original thinking one can practice in their lives. Each day, as I work to come to terms with some aspect of my life or life at large, I look to the words and wisdom of those who have considered the topic before. I have spent literally hours combing files of historic thought leaders on every topic you can imagine.

According to Jan’s studied thesis on original thinking, it is through this kind of deep reflection with our own thoughts and the thoughts of others that we come to know what is really ours. What we all most long for in our lives is a sense of meaning in what we do and how we interact. It is precisely through our most personal interactions, and especially those that challenge us to our core, that we discover what we value and why. 

Taking on the beliefs of others or more commonly the traditionally held cultural values that surround us leads to an unexamined existence than can often end up feeling like we are living someone else’s life. It is in the hard, daily work of really knowing your own experience well enough to articulate it and share it, that it becomes your own brand of wisdom. Usually it takes some kind of trauma for us to look into our thoughts and ask: Is this mine? As a parent of many teenagers, I am often being tested on my values as they push back from mine to search for their own. As challenging as those moments can be, it is in them that I learn what really belongs to me.

In her book, French poet Paul Valery is quoted: “Nothing is more original, nothing is more oneself than to feed on others. But one has to digest them. A lion is made of assimilated sheep.” Diving into an authentic relationship with yourself in effect requires that work with the people who inhabit your world. Our lives are connected and mirrors for each other and may well be the key to our most original thinking.