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“Thinking beautifully is a skill that can be learned and that can help us a lot”

What if there is a way of thinking that allows us to see beyond our noses? What if we can think in a more beautiful way to discover new paths and possibilities? What if with a different style of thinking we could better face adversity?

The psychologist Tomás Navarro –author of internationally successful works such as emotional strength, wabi sabi, You are stronger than you think, I am so either kintsukuroi– reveals in his new book, think pretty (Zenith Publisher), that the secret to achieving a full life consists in learning to think well and knowing how to distinguish rational thoughts from those that harm us and do not let us grow.

“Thinking well is a process that helps you expand your life, to lead a quieter, richer life, more in line with your priorities and with fewer avoidable complications…”, explains the author of Think pretty.

But is there a way to think well?
Yes, of course there is a way to think well. In fact, there is a logic and reasoning process. What happens is that each one applies it in their own way… it’s a bit “freestyle”.

There is a way of thinking well and, furthermore, it is a dynamic way of thinking: it depends on each context. That is why algorithmic decision-making processes are replicated in computers.

Research is part of life and precisely for this reason you have to think carefully so as not to complicate reality more than necessary.

–Why do you say that right now we cannot allow ourselves not to think well?
–You can never allow yourself not to think well, but in an adverse situation, in a crisis or in a pandemic situation like the current one, you cannot allow yourself to do so because, since mistakes have consequences, you cannot be wrong.

If you are experiencing a good time (you have a good job, you have plenty of money coming in, there are no problems at home, you are super relaxed and super happy…) maybe you can allow yourself not to think. But at the moment in which we are, in which perhaps you have become unemployed or your partner is unemployed, in which there is a lot of anxiety… So, each mistake that is made can bring much greater consequences and those consequences can be irreversible . How many separations have there been of charming couples because the tension causes problems and they have just separated?

–Are we what we think?
– Who interprets emotions? Your brain. Thinking. So, emotions are important and they send us signals, but you interpret those signals and interpret them as you think, based on the experiences you have lived.

–To what extent does the brain take control of our lives?
– Take control of our life absolutely. Look, I give you a very graphic example: the system of veins that we have. Every two or three centimeters there is a valve that prevents the return of the blood, which causes the blood to go upwards. When there is a certain pressure, it must be maintained so that the blood travels through the body and does not go back. So, imagine what it is like to control each one of those valves, their pressure and the pressure they have to exert depending on the blood pressure and the speed of the blood depending on whether you are running, walking or sleeping… Add to it the control of breathing, the digestive system, the autoimmune system… It’s an incredible amount of information and decisions.

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Then, the brain says: “I manage this because, if you manage it, you are sure to be wrong”. It allows you to make some decisions based on the learning but, since it knows that this learning can be incorrect, it cannot let you control the important functions at your free will. He decides what is important and leaves the minor decisions to you.

– Are you saying that the brain knows that we learn wrong things?
–Imagine that at school they teach you that two plus two equals six. You have learned that. So one day you are running from a criminal and they tell you that the password to open the door is the result of two plus two. What are you going to put? You will put six, what is what you have learned! The brain knows that you learn from experiences and that you can learn it wrong. That’s why he lets you make only the minor decisions.

–What to do with those false beliefs?
–The brain is very plastic and we can change at any time and this is wonderful because if not, imagine! We would be condemned for life for what we learned in childhood. Fortunately – and this is the latemotiv from my new book– we can learn to think and improve.

In fact, thinking pretty is a skill that can be learned. It has nothing to do with intelligence, it is a way of applying thought.

It is true that when we learn the most it is in our childhood and that, in addition, we learn from reference figures to whom we value more than our own criteria.

Therefore, if my father is a super man and he told me that two plus two equals six, that goes to mass. They are corset thoughts and it is very difficult to break that idea.

–Do we live in a corset of thoughts? How to distinguish our thoughts from those we have inherited, for example?
–There are some thoughts that remain explicitly in us. Imagine that your mother tells you that “Whoops, whoops, whoops… Never study journalism in your life because I had a journalist boyfriend and he told me nonsense and it was the worst.” You tattoo that on your mind and you never study journalism when, perhaps, you would have become a great journalist.

Then there are some thoughts that are more subtle, such as, for example, if you see that your father is happy being a postman, then you say “well, I also want to be happy and I’m going to become a postman.” But maybe that expectation is unrealistic: it may be that your father is happy being a postman because he is very outgoing and likes to greet people, while you are an introvert and that makes you have a terrible time.

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So, yes, childhood thoughts do mark our lives a lot, but, in reality, it is very easy to manage those beliefs.

Can we easily change them?
–I remember a client who had terrible hands –they were peeling, red and irritated, she suffered from some kind of dermatitis– and she was depressed. There is an autoimmune disease, which is Princess Hand Disease, which causes depression. So I asked her about her hands and told her that there was this disease of the hands that causes depression and that it could be that, in her case, the depression was related to that autoimmune disease.

She said, “Oh no… that’s from washing the dishes.” I told him then to change soap or put on gloves. She replied: “No, it’s not because of that. It’s that I wash them with practically boiling water because, when I was little, my mother explained to me that this is how grease is removed from dishes.”

So I told him: “Let’s do something: buy yourself this soap, which is the one I use and it’s fantastic, and try using it with warm water instead of boiling water. See what happens.” Shortly after I received a WhatsApp: “Tomás, but if the fat goes away anyway and they are magnificent” .

Look what a stupid and integrated thought and how washing the dishes with boiling water three times a day was conditioning his life. That thought had marked her life but look, at the same time, how easily it was dismantled as well.

Do you think that this change in attitude can be achieved in all cases?
I use the million dollar question technique with people. For example, depression causes categorical, irrational, and delusional thoughts. The typical ones are “I am alone in life”, “nobody loves me” or “the future, whatever I do, will not change”.

So I have him write “The future, whatever he does, will not change” and I ask him to add questions and to read the sentence in the form of a question: “The future, whatever he does, will not change.” ?”. When responding, most of the time they answer: “Well, it depends.” Notice how simple it is and how useful something as basic as adding two questions and reformulating a statement in a question gives you.

Of course, someone who believes that he is smarter than anyone, who has a bias to believe that he is smarter than most people, then he is probably not going to accept that thinking nicely works for him. What I know is that I have not had it easy at all at a professional level but thinking beautiful has led me to achieve my goals. This is an example of how this type of thinking can help you.

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–If we spend the day trying to “correct” our automatic thoughts. Don’t we run the risk of ending up exhausted?
–Actually it is the other way around: many times we end up exhausted by paying attention to those automatic thoughts. For example, I work with athletes and they often end up getting tired of following their automatic beliefs. Imagine a tennis player who believes that, in order to win, before serving a match point, he has to move the water bottles three times, turn the cap, step on the line, bounce three times… This is exhausting.

The important thing is not to do this kind of pointless thing. When you are correcting your automatic thoughts to do things with sense, you are investing your time well.

–Why sometimes we don’t know how to discriminate between what is important and what is not?
–Because we do not have priorities and we attend to things that we should not attend to. For example, we attend to product offers without thinking about whether we really need them. We also attend to offenses, criticism, opinions, flattery…

–Is it possible to be more analytical in a world that does not stop running? How?
–Look, this is the thread of what we talked about before. You may think that stopping to think, to analyze and correct your thoughts is very tiring and that, look, we are in a hurry… What for? And then do a scroll infinity on instagram? Is that the rush you were in? Well, maybe there wasn’t such a rush…

Yes it is possible to stop in a world that runs. In fact I am an example of slow thinking. To write this book I have requested two extensions. It had never happened to me, but I have had to delay it twice because I had other issues. But in the end I wrote it. There is time for everything, very few things are urgent. It is a matter of setting priorities and organizing time.

–And, in general, do we know how to prioritize and organize time?
–One of the micro-errors that we make and that I precisely talk about in my new book is that we tend to underestimate the time we need to do tasks, which is perceived with the famous “it’s a minute” or “I’ll have it in 5 minutes”. ”.

If you set a timer –which is an exercise I recommend to all readers– to do an activity that you say you are going to do in 5 minutes, you will realize how long it really takes you.

You will see, for example, that those five minutes that you have been looking at the Internet have actually been 45. Nothing happens, you have the right to do it, but then you will see that it is not that you do not have time but that you are investing it in a certain way.

to have a thought slow It is important to set priorities. So, you have to stop and think: “What do I want to do now, do…

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