How often are you over thinking?


Today is March 21 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often are you over thinking?” Leveraging your mind, body, and spirit to navigate the chaos offers many nuances and paradoxes explained throughout this 365-day blog series. Today’s reflection examines the nuance involved with thinking, or more specifically, over thinking. Do you need to leverage your mind to navigate the chaos. Yes, absolutely. Do you need to think hard, think differently, and think often, yes, of course. You need to do all those things yet avoid the trap of over thinking which in and of itself can prohibit your ability to translate one dream after another into reality.


Canadian film maker James Cameron noted the danger of over thinking and said, “there are many talented people who haven’t fulfilled their dreams because they over thought it, or they were too cautious, and were unwilling to make the leap of faith.” This over thinking is often associated with those who need things to be perfect before they begin, are waiting for the right moment to pursue their dreams or hold on to a strong fear of failure. What separates those who navigate the chaos from those who are unable to is often the ability to let go of thinking and just start doing.


Going back to 1873, the English philosopher John Stuart Mill discussed over thinking in his Autobiography. In his work Mill linked over thinking to happiness and the pursuit of one’s passion when he wrote “Those only are happy (I thought) who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way. The enjoyments of life (such was now my theory) are sufficient to make it a pleasant thing, when they are taken en passant, without being made a principal object. Once make them so, and they are immediately felt to be insufficient. They will not bear a scrutinizing examination. Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so. The only chance is to treat, not happiness, but some end external to it, as the purpose of life. Let your self-consciousness, your scrutiny, your self-interrogation, exhaust themselves on that; and if otherwise fortunately circumstanced you will inhale happiness with the air you breathe, without dwelling on it or thinking about it, without either forestalling it in imagination, or putting it to flight by fatal questioning.”


Mill’s description of happiness is directly linked to those who are able to think about something else. “Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness.” If you are solely focused on obtaining happiness, then one option you have is to assess just how much over thinking is involved in the pursuit of your happiness. For Mill, the life situations enjoyed most were taken en passant, meaning by incident and without design. Capturing such happiness, however, requires one to keep an open mind, an active body, and a free spirit. If you are so obsessed with reaching some pre-determined level of happiness, your mind will be closed, your body stagnant, and your spirit chained to your pursuit. Leveraging your mind, body, and spirit is hard work and not over thinking is in and of itself difficult for most people.


After navigating her own personal crisis, author Vironika Tugaleva addressed the need to avoid over thinking when she wrote “They say, ‘Look before you leap.’ So, look. But do not look for too long. Do not look into the void of uncertainty trying to predict each and every possible outcome, to evaluate every possible mistake, to prevent each possible failure. Look for the opportunity to leap, and leap faster than your fear can grab you. Leap before you talk yourself out of it before you convince yourself to set up a temporary camp that turns into a permanent delay on your journey into your own heart.” Those who navigate the chaos take the action required to journey into their own heart. Constructing barriers around leveraging one’s body, mind, and spirit is just going to enhance your over thinking while prevent you from acting. Entrepreneur Robert Herjavek echoed a similar thought when he noted “Thinking too much leads to paralysis by analysis. It's important to think things through, but many use thinking as a means of avoiding action.”

  • How often are you over thinking?

  • Have you considered how over thinking could be prohibiting you from translating one dream after another into reality?

  • What is the origin or causes related to your reliance on over thinking?

  • Are you so focused on the pursuit of happiness that you find yourself unhappy?

  • How often is your mind open, body active, and spirit free in order to capture those life situations that happen by incident or without design?

  • How often do you find yourself setting up a ‘temporary camp that turns into a permanent delay on your journey into your own heart?’

  • Who or what is holding you back from leaping into a life situation?

  • Are you over thinking to avoid action? If so, why are you so dependent upon thinking while avoiding acting?