Thoughts Think Themselves

In the Sam Harris Podcast Is Buddhism True? A Conversation with Robert Wright, Robert Wright noted “thoughts think themselves”. It’s a great conversation and I can’t pretend I can explain it better than he did, but here is my takeaway:

We think of ourselves as the thinker of our thoughts, but evolutionary psychology (and Buddhism) tell us this is actually an illusion; when we take the time to pay attention, it is clear that we merely bear witness to the thoughts that arise in our conscious awareness. A great for instance is when our amygdala (our lizard brain, at its base, and by far the fastest part of our brain) fires off some fight, flight or freeze thoughts. The value in this awareness is it can relax us a bit, make us a little less attached and invested in our thoughts, and give us some mental distance and time that allows our much slower reason center- the prefrontal cortelx- to consider the possibilities of more skillful responses… “does that thought serve me? is my speedy amygdala serving me here? should I agree with it? is there a different thought that I may prefer, that may serve me better?”

Shameless Plug: this conversation is a perfect seguay to my recent talk Managing Bias:

 

 

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