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Thinking Is Hard Work

“Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?” — Winnie the Pooh

The Pooh certainly has a knack for cutting to the chase. Most people know exactly what he is talking about, although they aren’t usually so direct. Instead, they say things like, “It just slipped my mind,” or “I got busy and didn’t have time to get back to it.” Thomas J. Watson had a very Pooh-like explanation for people’s not thinking, “… men very often resort to all sorts of devices in order not to think, because thinking is such hard work.” François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld was even more blunt than The Pooh and Watson, “Our minds are lazier than our bodies.” When it comes to taxing the gray cells, the normal response is to avoid it any way possible.

If you want some new excuses other than a lazy mind, you can try one of G. Behn’s, “Some people get lost in thought because it’s such unfamiliar territory.” Naturally, you wouldn’t want to find yourself lost, especially due to hanging around somewhere you’ve never been before. If that doesn’t quite work for you, Martin H. Fischer went everyone one step better when he said, “Physiological response to thinking and to pain is the same; and man is not given to hurting himself.” Sure, thinking is masochistic; and you definitely aren’t into that sort of thing.

You’re just a regular person; and that ivory tower nonsense should be reserved for intellectuals and other folks who can’t get real jobs. H.L. Mencken is obviously one of those types. Can you believe what he said? “The average man never really thinks from end to end of his life. The mental activity of such people is only a mouthing of clichés.” Now just where does he think he gets off?

OK, you aren’t totally against thinking. You’re not into total brain freeze. It’s only something you don’t want to overdo. George Bernard Shaw offered a plan that may be worth considering, “Few people think no more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once a week.” What do you think, if that’s not asking too much?

Of course, you’re not a Shaw; but thinking a couple of times a month might be manageable. If so, that may be enough to qualify you for the ranks of the thinking elite; and what a treat that would be. As Hume put it, “What a peculiar privilege has this little agitation of the brain which we call ‘thought’.”

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