Monday, September 24, 2012


Quick announcement: Unleashed will be published bi-monthly (two weeks out of the month).

Coming to you from Spain...

Got a problem? Most of us do. As you may know, every problem has a 'simple fix'… a solution! But how do we arrive at that solution? By thinking! Here, I will share some suggestions on how to think!

You might be thinking, “Really? She’s going to tell me how to think? You don’t need to know how to think in order to think, you just do it.” Right… and wrong!

Yes, it is true that thought consists of every word or idea in our brain, but I’m talking about productive thought, the kind that analyzes data or trends, provokes further questioning, carefully considers details and their implications; the kind of thinking that generates solutions to problems, or at least leads you in the right direction, whether it be in regards to work, school, or your own emotions. 

So, how can you think productively then?

Sleep. When you get enough sleep, your ability to think increases dramatically. Although you have a lot to do tomorrow, if you’re sleep-deprived when you begin your day, you’ll most likely end up spending more time doing and thinking about activities that would take you considerably less time to complete or solve if you’d had a good night of sleep.  Moreover, your brain keeps working while you sleep, so don’t be surprised if you go to sleep contemplating a problem and wake up with a solution!

Rest. I mentioned previously that sleeping was excellent for productive thought. But perhaps even more important that sleep is rest. The idea of “resting” means different things to different people in different cultures. Maybe your “resting” means drinking a cup of coffee slowly at your kitchen table, going on a walk in the evening, lying on your couch, sipping some hot tea; whatever it may be, create time for it. And I’m not talking about plopping on the couch in front of the TV – that is not conducive to good thinking. Many of us are deprived of sleep, but arguably more of us are deprived of rest. And resting creates an amazing opportunity to think about your day, your life, your work, your loved ones, or anything at all. So, disconnect, disengage, turn off your phone, find a couch, or a chair, or a lawn and just do nothing - even if just for a few minutes per day. Create time in your day to just relax, tune out, and just rest.

Talk.  Talk to your best friend, or to any friend for that matter. Talk about your day, about your feelings, about your problems. Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Often the problem is not that you don’t have a solution, but that you don’t really even know what the problem is. This is especially true when it comes to our own feelings and emotions regarding our interactions with the people and world around us. So, talk! And maybe you’ll find out you have problems you didn’t even know you had! [This is a good thing.]

Believe. Believe that your answers will come; believe that your own abilities are up to the tasks of solving the problems you face; believe in your mind, your body and your heart. Believe that your answers will come – positivism and optimism are beneficial in any situation. Believe that you can do it and the chances of success increase. Once your confidence is up, then begin again to think about that problem of yours.

Read. Other peoples’ opinions often spark new ideas in your own mind, and you can never interact directly with enough people to get all of the information you need. Reading can increase the information pool available to you and provide inspiration, especially if you read a variety of authors of differing opinions.  Aside from providing additional information, reading helps create a structure of using the information you now have for solving problems. 

Practice.  More than anything else, productive thinking requires practice. That is, after all, one reason we go to school – we learn to identify problems, locate and structure the information required to solve them, and what actions to take to achieve the desired solution.  Outside the classroom, we do the same thing. So sleep, do nothing, rest, talk, pray, and read…. All of these steps will help you become a better thinker.  And, by the way, I’m talking about media-free, stress-free, judgment-free thinking. This kind of thinking will get you far, my friend.

Best of luck to you and your thoughts.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Feel free to contact columnists at Unleashed 

The Words of Wisdom Column, Lia Vosti:

Lia Vosti is an undergraduate at Santa Clara University, majoring in Bioengineering. Growing up together, her words always made the most obscure situations crisp and clear. She is the up and coming Renaissance woman, able to give homely advise after a day in the lab, and wise beyond her years.  

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