Arne Næss, one of my favorite philosophers and human beings, once said:
It’s not painful to think.
And yet, of course, it can be.
Thoughts come with a whole mess of things, including sometimes memories and associations that trigger uncomfortable emotions. It can certainly be very uncomfortable to think.
If we think seriously about something, we may….
See that we don’t know as much as we think, or with much certainty.
Notice discrepancies and inconsistencies in our worldview.
Be reminded of painful situations or aspects of ourselves.
Have to question our beliefs and identities.
And much more. All of which can be quite uncomfortable.
The puzzling thing isn’t that not more of us are thinking more thoroughly. It’s that some do. And why? Most likely because we realize that it’s actually more painful, especially in the long run, to not examine things thoroughly.
Reality is kind, and we are kind to ourselves when we align our views more closely with reality.
Note: I am sure Arne Næss knew this very well. He probably just wanted to make a point. Thinking itself is not painful. It’s what we do with it that sometimes is. It’s how we react to it that can create discomfort.
Note 2: There is a clear difference between examination/inquiry and thinking. I know that this post blurred that distinction a bit.
- not painful to think?
- arne næss
- can trigger uncomfortable emotions
- have to question identities, beliefs
- be reminded about painful memories
- notice inconsistencies in our thinking / world view