December 25, 2021

What made you think of that?

Have you ever noticed that you don’t really create your thoughts?

They just seem to arise more or less out of nowhere in response to stimuli.

I usually can identify what made me think of something, but that’s different from consciously deciding what I want my next thought to be and then creating it.

And I don’t think I’m the only one who has observed this phenomenon because my personal experience is well reflected in expressions like:

“Something just occurred to me.”

“That gave me an idea!”

“My brain won’t shut off.”

And my favorite:

"What made you think of that?”

I’m fascinated by the idea that outside events can make you think something, literally against your will.

For example:

If I said to you, “Don’t think of an elephant,” you’d be forced to think of an elephant in order to comprehend the statement.

By the time you tried not to think of the elephant, it’d be too late.

And oh by the way, I just made you think of an elephant.

And maybe this elephant idea triggered a pleasant childhood memory of going to the zoo with your grandparents...

And then maybe that memory made you think of spending Christmas eve at their old house, and so on...

Here’s the thing...

The more I think about the idea that my thoughts are made not by me but by what I am exposed to, the more careful I am about what I expose myself to.

Unlike junk food, which I can choose not to eat when I’m exposed to it, junk ideas are in me the instant I see or hear them.


If you regularly:

...just remember that these activities are literally making you think things, whether you like it or not.