I can't quite get it right, even though I've been trying to for a while now. So I'll just scratch out the thoughts I can and publish anyways, because I think the topic is worth thinking about.
There is, roughly, something called a "thought cycle" - it's a series of a thought forming, the chains of thoughts that go from it, any actions that it spur you into, and the feedback from the actions.
Or something like that. I haven't defined it really well yet.
What's the length of a thought cycle? Well I suppose it depends, and goes between some sort of range. Most are very short (sometimes very short), and occasionally - rarely - they're somewhat longer.
It seems to me that everything that almost everything that humans do are created by thought cycles. To some extent, they're automatic and habitual and we don't pay attention to them. Something like blinking or breathing is automatic until you think about it. With training, you can even control your heart rate to some extent.
So, are those thought cycles? I'm not sure, but I think so. Maybe we could make some classification between "reflective" thought cycles when you're thinking about it, and "habitual" thought cycles that are not.
It seems to me that pretty much everything we do is started by thought cycles. To change the world, you change your thought cycles.
I don't mean that in a fru-fru "just imagine and feel it, man" sort of way. No, I'm including action (or the lack thereof) as part of thought cycles. After all, our brain runs the show, and controls what we do. Thus, our thoughts control what we do. Sometimes we're not paying attention to our thoughts - they're habitual or customary at that point - but at some level, it's still thinking the brain that's running the show, and at some level, thoughts which are controlling are actions.
(Maybe there's some actions with reflexes and fully automatic processes - or maybe not)
Hmm, I wish I could be more concrete, but I've been trying to mentally walk through this for a while now and haven't quite gotten there.
But I do think -
1. We have thought cycles - a pattern of forming a thought, a chain of thoughts that proceed from there, lead to action, and the environmental feedback from the action.
2. These control either all or most of our actions.
3. To change our actions, thus, changing where we direct and how we initiate our thought cycles matters.
I reckon a lot of things can change your thoughts and thought cycles. Obviously learning more on a topic lets you have more sophisticated thoughts on the topic. Learning about nutrition lets you have thought cycles better devoted to eating well.
Likewise, paying attention to what you think on can go quite a ways. If you found that you do better thinking in a particular environment, it'd be good to spend more time in that environment. If you do particularly bad thinking under some circumstances, you might want to observe and work against those circumstances.
Just paying attention can probably shape your thoughts. Sometimes it's kind of self-indulgent to go off on a certain train of thought, and if you catch yourself you can re-draw your attention to somewhere you'd like to spend it.
The action component is a huge part of it - thought cycles the fizzle out without spurring any action are not going to produce results. But it seems to me that improving the quality of your thought cycles (particularly the spurring-to-action component) would go a long ways towards living a better and more meaningful life.
I think it's important to note that often, your environment simply consists of you - and how your actions made you feel. Writing those first blog posts probably didn't create much environmental feedback. Just a thought, perhaps an obvious one...
Betty Edwards has made an insightful conclusion about how inspiration is generated in her "Drawing on the Artist Within". The creative process progresses from stage to stage and problem could be solved through these key steps:
First insight -> Saturation-> Incubation-> Illumination (the Ah-Ha!)-> Verification
It might be worth to take a look at first few chapters to get some interesting thoughts. =)
I know you're not necessarily talking about spiritual things here, but what you've said is the basis of the Buddhist approach to life. I'm sure you're well read enough to know what that's about already so I won't go into detail; I think the quote below is attributed to Buddha and explains all.
"The thought manifests as word;
The word manifests as deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And habit hardens into character.
So watch the thought and its ways with care,
And let it spring from love
Born out of concern for all beings.:
I've always thought that this approach to how you conduct yourself shows a great deal of insight into human psychology and could be applied in all aspects of life. Like you've said - change the thought and the rest will follow.
I'm doing some work for an old friend of mine.
His situation is interesting. Not too long ago, he lost his job and got divorced, and otherwise his life got pretty screwed up and off-track.
He left the United States, took a job below his old skill level for a while, and then stopped that and started a company. Now he's living an exceptional life, and on the verge of making a lot of money.
I thought that was awesome, and I was quite happy for him. After we'd gotten done going through a lot of numbers, choosing some vendors, designing some systems, and otherwise figuring business out on the phone, we talked personal life. I said, "Man, I'm so happy for you. So much is going right. Congratulations."
He wasn't excited. He was a little worried.
Been a while since I've put down a post - been busy with the holidays and stressed with some events in my past after hitting a euphoric peak around Thanksgiving. That's when the curtain came crashing down seemingly. Looking back I guess with good reason too...
For the longest time I was a worrying type but I've only really been conscious of this recently. If anything even came close to being a possible thing to worry about my mind would obsess over it constantly and draw out every possible scenario and try to draw up actions plans to prevent such scenarios. Unfortunately once you solved that the mind would draw up more crazy scenarios given you more reasons to worry and the cycle would continue... Thus instead of enjoying life your brain would constantly use your mind's idle processing time to worry about things.
I didn't think much of this issue until it hit a new breaking point a month or two ago. I worried about things up to the point in which I could no longer control my mental state. Yes - I went insane - certifiably insane :p. I could not control the thoughts in my head any longer. Unless I was drowning out my mind in trance music or computer games or throwing distractions at it I would always go back to idle worrying and terror. Not a good way to live life if you ask me. I could no longer control the thoughts in my head. My mind had literally taking a mind of it's own and it was filled with worry and terror. I became a recluse for a bit as I no longer wanted to face the world - it was too scary - too much could go wrong - one small unfortunate circumstance could bring down our entire existences as we know them.
Anyway while I was huddled in a corner fearing existence I thought to myself, "wow - I wonder if there's a way to turn my brain OFF." Suddenly I felt jealous for the naive and unthinking - ignorance is indeed bliss - a bliss that will come crashing down any second once 'the whole truth of existence was known' but it was indeed bliss and happiness. At my current point it seemed like there was nothing I could do to ever be happy again once I was no longer naive about the world. All my worrying and drawing out of scenarios let me see the world for as it truly was - and I was terrified!!! If one pondered logically about how little it takes to bring down one's state of happiness you may reach an equivalent state I did.