thinking In Amazing Powers of Concentration, Brad Feld says something that resonated with me.

I've never really understood the phrase "I'm thinking." It's too abstract for me. I like to think I think all the time. So "I'm thinking" doesn't feel like it applies to anything. For example, when "I'm running", it's pretty clear what I'm doing. "I'm thinking" - not so much so.

That's so true. Thinking is an ongoing and difficult to see activity.

In fact, I know of some people who are so busy thinking at times that they find it difficult to sleep at night. I used to have that problem a lot. However, it's rare these days. I'm not sure why. Maybe I'm just more fond of sleep than I used to be.

I suppose that if you're into meditation, there is a time during the day when you force yourself not to think. But that's pretty rare, I suspect.

Oh, I almost forgot about television...

Posted by jzawodn at August 04, 2008 07:02 AM

Reader Comments
# Dan Isaacs said:

I've only ever used this phrase to assure the person that has just asked me something that I'm considering the issue they've just raised, and not ignoring them.

And as you pointed out, there is quite a bit of time most Americans, anyway, spend not thinking. Or at least, not being thoughtful.

on August 4, 2008 08:46 AM
# jay said:

yes, thinking is an "ongoing" activity so inseparable from existence. after all, that was why descartes said, "i think, therefore i am", when he wasn't sure of his own existence.

but from a pure logical view, his conclusion is considered faulty, since the existence is assumed by the thought process, and so thinking does not imply existence. e.g., russell says "thoughts exist" conveys the existence of thinking and "i think" assumes "i am", not implies!

russell also joked, "most people would rather die than think, and most people do". and in that sense, "i think" may imply "i am"!

in short, yes, it is a difficult thinking to think "i'm thinking"!

as for meditation, the word meditate means "to engage in thought":)

on August 4, 2008 11:06 AM
# said:

Just wanted to offer an alternative viewpoint about meditation. Whilst there are some forms of meditation where the goal is to forcefully suppress thought they usually have a very narrow scope and specific focus e.g. to develop concentration.

A radically different and widely practised form of meditation is mindfulness meditation. There are various forms (ask google) but in general the aim is not to fight or struggle with your thoughts but to let them come and go of their own accord. When this practise is sustained and developed, it often leads to thoughts and mental chatter automatically dying down.

Jeremy, as you are in SF, if you're interested in finding out more I'm sure the nice folks at SF Zen Centre ( would be happy to share

on August 4, 2008 12:44 PM
# Toby Adams said:


I'm thinking... craigslist is down...
--- But by the time I started this post it was back up :(

Anyway, I've been following your blog for years... mostly SEO reasons. But, I also enjoy craigslist. Have you guys ever thought about a paid service that would alert me of updates to the list. I'm always missing a deal by just a few minutes (I'm guessing car dealer types are sitting around waitng for a deal of a listing -- and beat average folks out). Like I'd said, I'd be willing to pay for a good rss feed (right now, the craigslist feed lags hours behind the actual postings) or even better a text message to my phone saying something meeting my search critera is now on the 'list'. Just a thought.


on August 4, 2008 01:25 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


I've wanted something like that myself. ;-)

Will it get built? I don't know. But I'd like to try.

on August 4, 2008 01:46 PM
# jay said:

yes, while the popular view about meditation seems to be to eliminate thought, there are schools that present it as a way to focus, concentrate, and suppress unwanted thoughts.

there's a common saying in india that the "mind is a monkey" (seems also in china,, referring to its wavering nature. thought would be interesting giving the thoughtful monkey's photo!

on August 5, 2008 11:20 AM
# gregorylent said:

having no thoughts is the most valuable part of anyone's day ... and thinking, in the sense of finding an idea, is a listening process.

thoughts are a disease in the yogi world, in the same sense that worry or anxiety are.

being the witness of one's thoughts is a beginning to something, a door that opens into being aware of awareness, or aware without an object of awareness ... pure subject.

on August 5, 2008 11:40 AM
# Tim Converse said:

I think this is one of those situations where you have to ignore the literal meaning, and instead consider the pragmatic reasons why someone might want to say "I'm thinking" to someone else...

Here's one use-case translation of "I'm thinking":

"I'm pursuing an unusually concentrated line of thought which (unlike my usual butterfly multi-task thinking) requires all of my working memory, and if you start talking to me I know I'll lose my train of thought, so shut up already!"

on August 6, 2008 01:49 AM
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