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A Thought About Thoughts

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Thomas Traherne, a 17th century English poet, would say that “nothing is more easy than to think, so nothing is more difficult than to think well.” Our minds are full of thoughts, yet how many of those thoughts are in any way constructive? There is little positive in those constant thoughts about what we dislike, about what we crave, about what we’re afraid of, about what’s pissing us off.

Marcus Aurelius admonished himself to have the mind of someone “set straight and purified: no pus, no dirt, no scabs.” But the truth is most of us have far too many thoughts rattling around in our head, bruising and cutting up our brain in the process.

The art of thinking well isn’t easy, but it’s essential. And doing it well is a matter of essentialism—cutting out the extraneous, corralling the negative, focusing on the constructive instead of the consuming.

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