How to hold a thought

Thoughts are slippery little guys. You think them, and then they slip away. Or, in my case anyway, you start to think them and by the time you get to the end, you’ve forgotten the beginning.

Let me give an example. The other week I tried to rethink my perfect life situation. I wanted to get a clearer understanding of what I’m after. I know in a general sense, but in the day to day, I forget.

My challenge then was to come up with a way to hold that thought throughout the day while going on with my normal routine.

The thought slips away because they’re too big. It’s too complex to keep in my mind all the time. And if I try to reason it out each time, it’s too much work to be worth the effort. I need something I can grab fast and anytime.

The solution I’m learning now seems similar to how I try to create memories. The main thing about holding thoughts, though, is that it’s all about simplifying. If I can simplify a complex thought or set of thoughts into just a few words, then I can get a handle on it. I can grab it whenever I want.

Like if I try to rethink my perfect life situation, I have to start with why. I have to go through all the reasons, all the background of why it’s important to me. I think of socializing and providing a safe place for people to try new things and do scary stuff. I think of all the reasons I want to pursue that. Then I have to figure out how it works in practice.

To help this process along, I created a simplified version: small house, large table. This simplified version condenses the entire process into a four-word phrase.

The phrase doesn’t explain why these two things are important to me, but it does give me something simple to remember. I can keep the phrase in mind throughout the day without having to rethink the entire process and reasoning and all that. I can just think, Small house, large table.

For me, this has been a good way to hold a thought. It’s a matter of simplifying ideas down to a mantra that I can repeat throughout the day. The mantra stands as a marker for all the process and reasoning in the complete thought.

That’s how I’m learning to hold thoughts so they don’t slip away.