Getting new thoughts

I love it when my brain makes connections from seemingly unrelated things and points out an interesting pattern. Sometimes this leads into weird conspiracy theories which I then need other parts of my brain to help me debunk, but often it offers genuine insights.

Recently I’ve been watching a lot of videos with Louis C.K. As I watched this video, I instantly connected it with this article┬áby Leo Barbuta, that I read earlier this week.

Louis is talking about how George Carlin advised him to throw away all his material every year and come up with something new. Before that he had been gradually developing material for about 15 years, and some of his jokes he had kept in the routine for that long, with limited success. But as he starting forcing himself to make new material every year, he started tapping into deeper and deeper stuff. Observational humor gradually transformed into jokes about deeply-held feelings everyone can related to. There may be no comedian alive today that captures white middle-class angst as well as he does, and hes had enormous success with that as his material.

What does that have to do with an article on writing for others daily? Plenty. If you formulate your thoughts regularly and put them out there for others to read, you can’t allow yourself to keep abusing the same poor old tired thoughts. You can’t write the same article twice, so when you’ve captured a certain set of thoughts in writing, you give yourself permission and motivation to move away from them and go further. Hopefully deeper.

Much like Louis C.K. throws away his material every year, you can “throw away” your habitual thought patterns every day and move on to something else.
It doesn’t mean you discard them, but that you no longer continue to concentrate on them. You are building up a “body of thought”, much the same way Louis is building up a body of work. This will benefit both of you for the rest of your lives.

I don’t think this is isolated to writing and comedy either.

  • If you are stagnating in the gym, you can participate in a competition, or help train someone else.
  • If you are stagnating in your finances, take a snapshot of your current situation and document every dollar you spend for a month.
  • If you are stagnating at work, you might want to mentor someone, or offer training in something you are already good at.

The philosophy is always the same:

  1. Take stock of where you are now, through writing, teaching, seeing an expert, etc.
  2. Put yourself out there. Show your status sincerely to someone to you trust. Make it public when appropriate.
  3. Figure out where you want to go from there.

The last step doesn’t have to be goal-oriented. Can you move in a direction that feels good, even if you have no idea where it will lead?

Before we put things down on paper, in a form that we’d be willing to show to someone else, our thoughts tend to circle around the same topics and we get stuck in a rut. But sharing and analyzing regularly make sure that you keep moving ahead. How many if your thoughts are new today?


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