The Importance of Thinking for Yourself
The Olympic games in Rio are opening as I write this. I was 22 years old when I spent 6 months playing volleyball and selling favela tours and hang gliding tickets on the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. I left with a much more realistic perspective than when I arrived, of how most of the world actually works. It was also my first experience of truly thinking for myself.
Lets begin with a question. What important truth do very few people agree with you on? It’s a very difficult answer because to answer it honestly will leave you exposed and with an unpopular position.
An easier place to begin, is what does everybody agree on?
Madness is rare in individuals, but in groups, parties, nations and ages, it is the rule, Nietzsche wrote, before he went mad. If you are able to identify a delusional popular belief, you can find what lies beneath it, the contrarian truth.
Conventional beliefs only ever appear to be wrong in retrospect. The answer to our question is that the most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd, but to think for yourself.
Thinking with the crowd fundamentally means higher competition. Competition dilutes success when compared to monopoly. To improve your chances of success, we need to cultivate different thought processes.
Within fitness and nutrition, what are some common universal truths? That we need to train more to see a result? That we should eat less? The contrarian truth here is that often this is not the case. If people ask me where to start approaching body change, I always say the following.
- Drink enough water.
- Learn how to breathe better.
- Get enough sleep.
If you think deeply about what these 3 things mean, you will realise they are that first roll of a tiny snowball when standing atop a Himalayan mountain. They are key behaviours at the beginning of important domino chains.
You can’t control many of the things that happen around you. You can however have definite agency over your body and your mind. And with these tools, you can influence your small corner of the world.
A definite person determines the one best thing, and then does it. Indefinite attitudes towards the future explain whats most wrong with our world today (Donald Trump as a candidate!). Process trumps substance. We all have the ability to develop and refine our process so that in time we can become substantive. Process includes your morning routine, your training, your nutrition, and the way you approach problem solving.
It is better to risk boldness than triviality. Be bold and challenge your own thinking, even if it goes against the crowd. Others will thank you for it, because it will cause them to pause, reflect, and actually take a position.