When Do You Do Your Thinking?

When do you do your thinking?

This was the question of a thoughtful stranger I ran into today, a man keen on making conversation and exploring the depths of thought as he enjoyed his morning coffee.

When do you take the time to sit and ponder the things of your day? When do you take the time to get back to the things you told yourself you’d save for a quieter moment? When do you spend time clarifying your own thoughts and opinions? When do you turn off the TV, the music, the podcasts, put down your smartphone and make room for your own thoughts?

A while ago I noticed that I consistently enjoy some of my most insightful thoughts and most exciting ideas in the brief moments between turning my light out at night and falling asleep. When I’m lying in a dark, quiet room with my eyes closed, clarity slips into to my consciousness and I feel as though I can finally learn from the experiences of my day. Sometimes I find myself turning the light back on so I can grab my journal to jot down a precious thought I can’t bear to lose by morning.

I am learning not to turn to the television for entertainment immediately after my kids go to bed. Instead, I am learning to spend some time with myself or with my husband, to allow some quiet to soak into my soul. My evenings seem longer when I do this. My time feels better spent. It’s not always an easy thing to do—I enjoy binge watching my favorite Netflix shows along with the rest of them, and I fritter away more evenings than I care to admit—but perhaps it is the very experience of those binge watching evenings that I can appreciate the evening spent with my journal or in quiet conversation. Those evenings are almost never as fun to anticipate, I’ll admit, but they are almost always more fun to remember. When I turn off the noise, I get to know myself better.

In her book Parenting Well in a Media Age, Gloria DeGaetano talks about the Vital Five—five needs we have as humans that must be met for optimal healthy development. I find it fascinating that one of the Vital Five is an interior life—the need to connect to and identify with what’s going on in our own minds. When we take the time to get to know ourselves, we gain the ability to move about in the world in more effective and meaningful ways. I have certainly found this to be true in my own life. What do you feel most passionate about? What gets you out of bed in themorning, and why? When I know can answer these questions with ease, I bring purpose and passion to my days, don’t you? But I know that to be in touch with these things I value, I need to consciously slow down, turn down the volume, and be with me. It’s not always easy to do this, but I’m always grateful when I have the discipline to do it anyway.

So, I pose the question to you: When do you do your thinking? When it comes to your kids, how to you model the importance of an inner life? How to you encourage your children to think, ponder, and know their own minds? In a world providing ever more content and commentary, do you take the time to keep in touch with your own nuggets of wisdom? Do you really know what you think?

When do you do your thinking?