> Articles > Are you thinking straight?
are so many of us just not thinking straight?
by Luigi Di Serio
Next to breathing and pumping blood, cognition is one of the most
important things we do. As a matter of fact, it is what
distinguishes us human beings from other animals. So, why do we pay
so little attention to it? Life is a journey, that includes a series
of decisions, that more often than not stem from our mental
(cognitive) process, most of which is done subconsciously to
eliminate the repetitiveness of making the same decisions over and
over again. Furthermore, I believe we all have a cognitive process
that is the rudimentary channel of communication between our moral
conscious (spirit or soul) and our brain (the physical body). I
don’t want to prove this is true, however, as a reference, both
Eastern philosophies and Western Theologies have thorough beliefs
and understandings based on the mind, body and spirit connection.
Because we are aware of our ability to think, we know that you are
not just a reaction-based organism. Without the “know” and thought,
you would not be reading this right now. So at least a basic
cognition of cognition exist within all of us. You with me so far?
Heck, even (the usually
skeptical) contemporary science (including, unbelievably, western
medicine) are beginning to acknowledge the body, mind and spirit
connection and its significance on everyday health, thought,
emotions and general well-being. So why do we use cognition anyway?
Is it to help our specie survive? I'd surmise the answer is a
resounding NO. Most species in existence rely on many different
survival mechanisms, no of which include a thorough thinking
process. We use cognition to help us find
truth! That’s right, the truth. We all want to know what will truly
make us happy; what truly will give us joy, peace and success. So we
are constantly processing thoughts in attempts find the answers, so
to speak. So regardless of what you believe, it is pretty obvious
that cognition is so important. So what the heck is cognition?
cog·ni·tion n. (dictionary.com)
So if you have to make a tough decision in life, or you want to know
if something is true or not, we must take into careful consideration
the many things that initiate a cognitive process. Many things that
influence it, and many things distort it, even farther from the
truth (or profound knowledge) that we seek. So when you sit on your
bed and ponder, “Why am I here?” or “Does He Love Me?” or
“Should I get a new job?”, etc. try to be aware of what is
causing and influencing your thoughts. The truth is unchanging, it
is just how we process the perception of it, which is influenced by
circumstances, environment, etc. There are probably a lot
- The mental process of knowing, including aspects such as
awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment.
- That which comes to be known, as through perception,
reasoning, or intuition; knowledge.
So if we look at something we are doing and say... "Am I
doing the right thing?" we must be very weary of how that
question is answered. Since most of the time your subconscious mind
simply answers based on prior cognitive process (e.g.. memory,
So our apparently new thoughts may
be only old cognitive outputs from previous cognitive cycles.
Thereby we are actually
not be thinking at all, but just "rearranging" our prior
thoughts, namely our prejudices.
This type of thought output is very unhealthy.
It is the type of thought that is invoked by narrow-minded believes, instead of concrete evidence for
example. A realization is not cognition. Sometimes people do things
without thinking, and then they rationalize it. Rationality is not
thought. Do all yourselves a favor and throw rational out the
window. Rationality is the world’s biggest EXCUSE for all the
stupidities we do in our lives... "I did it because...";
"It is ONLY"; "This was JUST a...".
Justification and reasoning are excuses for not answering to
your higher conscious, which orders to know and live by the
truth. Some say "reason is the tool of the devil" and since most of us are intelligent beings, we can almost
always come up with a reason or explain rationally why we have done
something. Real thinking is used to find truth through cognition
and then through wisdom, not through rationalizing. Cognition is the
process of coming to know, and to be more exact the process of knowing
what’s right and what’s truth.
Here is how to breakdown how cognition is triggered; how it is
processed; and what affects it.
Table 1: Basic Cognitive Inputs
Each input is such a vast topic, we can write a book on each.
However, the common theme for the inputs is that they are, for the
most part, beyond our control. They are the stimuli, the cards we
have been dealt for any given situation. This is what is thrown at
us and now we need to do something with it. Cognitive inputs can be
as simple as seeing a lovely landscape (a 5 senses input), to
something more complex such, as someone offering you a drug
(Communication and Nero-Associations and if you take it chemical). So once, our thoughts are
invoked what happens next? Well we need a platform where cognition
takes place. These platforms are:
- 5 Senses
- Basic Instincts, Emotions, Fear
- Communication & Language
- Nero Associations
- Chemical – Environmental Reactions
Table 2: Platforms of Deep Cognition (Processing of Thoughts)
Just quickly and “very” generally:
- Smarts / Common Sense
- Knowledge is information or facts you can recall at will;
- Smarts is what makes the most sense (usually based on
- Intelligence is often based on resolve through patterns, logic
and problem solving
- Wisdom is based on history and experience
- Intuition is based on gut instinct, universal minds and/other
unknown powers (please do not confuse this with feelings or
These are tools we use to process thoughts. Some of us are more
blessed than others in certain areas. While there are ways to
improve on each, take a note when you are thinking something through
or making a critical decision, which ones you are using
to process your thoughts. If you are not, you should re-consider
they way you are tackling the problem and use one of these tools to
help you out.
Table 3: Cognitive Outputs (Perception and possible
After a cognitive process is finished, there is an output, a
thought, an idea, some action or maybe a decision. However, after
the output is created it needs be put back into the cognitive cycle.
So how is that done? Well, if you made it this far you will see my
point in all of this, so read on.
- Chemical & Physical Reactions (Habits)
- Decisions (Rationale & Circumstances)
- Beliefs & Values (Prejudice)
- Emotions & Feelings (Ego & Temperament)
- The Self (Selfishness & Pride)
Fig.1 Thought Process (Via Cognitive Process)
In a healthy thought process, cognitive outputs are used in future
thought process, during the “thought” or cognitive process
stage. In an unhealthy thought process, cognitive outputs are
recycled and used again as inputs. Again, look back Table. 3, and
you will see how similar, yet different the outputs (enclosed in
brackets) are from those not. Although they are essentially
synonymous, this is not the case in a cognitive process. It is a
simple case of Garbage in… Garbage out! Most people use the
outputs, as the input variables to come up with or influence
thoughts, ideas and perceptions. So many of us end up not thinking
straight, acting foolish and becoming victims of circumstances,
rather than making wise decisions. We act selfish, rather than
becoming self-actualized, take ecstasy, instead of feeling it, have
prejudice, instead of beliefs, and so on.
You with me?
I think you got it. Again, this all happens if you
take your cognitive outputs, and re-introduce them into your own
cognitive cycle in the input stage.
Example: Little Johnny gets burned by a small candle as a
young boy (cognitive input). He quickly thought (cognitive process)
to himself, I must stay away from "hot stuff", and now has
decided to avoid touching "hot stuff" all the time
(cognitive output). All is fine up until here. But after the
cognitive output stage, if he re-introduced his thought as an input
it will become a negative neuro-association or a basic fear for
Little Johnny, he will most likely be scared of everything that's
hot or fiery. This is because the cognitive input is "all in
his head", so too speak. It is not a real cognitive input (like
a stimuli), but a phobic-like fear, or in other words, a perception
or distortion of truth. Let's say in his case he developed "Pyrophobia"
as he grew up. Not a very good thing, I don't think.
Now, let's say he re-introduces the cognitive output of
"avoiding hot stuff" into his cognitive process instead,
it will stay in his memory bank until he encounters the situation
again (as real cognitive inputs). This time Little Johnny sees a
candle burning dangerously close to a table cloth. Johnny introduces
this to his cognitive process and thinks "this is dangerous,
I'd better be carefully with that and put it out safely. As Johnny
grew up, he learnt more and more about fires and became a "pyro-technician".
This is because he does not use his past cognitive outputs as
inputs, but rather he uses it in a new process, with a different set
off cognitive input variables (in other words, a new situation).
Although a silly example, there are people that have a phobia to
fire, and ones who are experts with it, and it could easily stem
from something like this.
So the easiest way to change this and make sure you are thinking
straight is to simply ignore thoughts that just "pop" into
your head, with no basic stimuli or reason. Another way is to work on your cognitive process channels. Gain wisdom
and smarts through experience, sharing and working. Gain knowledge
and intelligence through reading, writing, conversing, dialectics
and problem solving. And gain intuition by... I don't know, use your
intuition for this one.