Thursday, July 5, 2018

I Think, Therefore I Am (Maybe)

Over the Fourth of July, I put a mischievous post on Facebook about my propensity to over-think goings-on: "Sometimes I think I overthink things, at least I think so."

That drew more attention than anything else I posted for the day celebrating the birth of our nation conceived in liberty. I am figuring that was because some close friends realize that yes indeed I do tend to overthink things (and then overwrite about them), or they recognized their own inclination to over-think (or over-analyze, fret, whatever.)

Our defense could be from the Latin phrase, cogito, ergo sum ("I think, therefore I am"). That summarizes a line of thinking by 17th Century French philosopher Rene Descartes who proceeded from the proposition that everything he thought he knew was open to doubt. (Now, that was some really strenuous overthinking!)

So we think; yes, we do. But as I thought more about all this, I visited the deepest well of overthinking, reaching it of course via an Internet surf. Diving deep down into the murky waters, I discovered the existence of a malady called "Overthinking Disorder." (Yikes!) Roughly, it has to do with excessive thinking based on anxiety, stress, fear, or dread. And it reaches such an extreme as to impair the ability to function.

Thank goodness, I don't think I'm anywhere near that point. My main overthinking expressed here (since this is a blog mainly about exercising in the senior years) has been whether I should step up my core fitness classes from twice a week to a regular three or even four days a week. There is the question of getting enough rest and recovery between sessions, because the experts say that's when your body actually is becoming more fit -- when it is repairing itself from the stresses and strains of a workout. Well, rather than overthinking, I think I will just do what feels best for me. I like going to class and I think getting enough rest is not really a problem.

Nevertheless if I need to ward off Overthinking Disorder, I find there are dozens of articles on the 'Net with well-meaning tips. Just a few samples: Seek distractions from your deep thought (like maybe dancing or going to a baseball game); think of what's going right, don't dwell on the wrong steps; don't obsess about reaching a state of perfection; and accept your best effort (in other words, as my fitness trainer recommends, "Don't beat yourself up!")

I think we all have worries: health, finances, security, welfare of family members. But giving thought and attention to them is not the same thing as overthinking (I don't think). Overthinking seems to be mostly about our own personal pursuits, which are important to us but maybe trivial in the larger scheme of things. Anyway, when the temperature cools and the bugs recede, my dawg and I can have more relaxing walks during which I think about nothing much except the beauty of the world God has created for us.

                                                  © Robert Gray Holland  (2018)

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