Cultivating Consciousness in an Unconscious World
Posted on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019
In last week’s post, Dr. V explored some of the factors that can affect our decision-making and, ultimately, well-being. And it brought to mind David Foster Wallace’s famous speech “This Is Water,” which he originally delivered as a speech to Kenyon College’s 2005 graduating class.
The inability to recognize how distracted we are seems to be one of the biggest drivers of misery. Living mindfully can become a real challenge. Your emotional health, of course, is as crucial to your overall health as diet, physical activity, sleep, and the rest.
It’s easy, Wallace told the students, to stay caught in your own thoughts, to proceed unconsciously, to “think” without thinking. “Twenty years after my own graduation,” as he phrased it in the published version of this speech,
I have come gradually to understand that the liberal-arts cliché about “teaching you how to think” is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: “Learning how to think” really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.
Check out the whole thing: