September 10, 2022

The privilege to never think about something ever again


There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

Norwegians coined this mantra many moons ago, which should come as no surprise. It’s a cultural phrase that has been repeated by generations of parents who insist that their children spend at least some time outdoors each day.

What a lovely sentiment. Helps people build a lifelong positive relationship with nature.

Instead of using inclement weather as an excuse to stay inside, you just layer up and get your ass out there.

The first time I heard this mantra was from a salesman inside of a running store. The winter weather was starting to get pretty severe, so going for six mile runs was becoming less and less attractive to me by the day.

But after spending a little more money on clothing than I had anticipated, it only took me a few runs to prove the theory right.

Turns out, not only does good clothing keep you from being cold, it also keeps you from thinking about being cold. And in my experience, that’s the more important factor.

Because the last thing you need when you’re jogging through the ice is to be thinking about, well, anything.

The whole purpose of running, or any practice of repetitive exercise or meditation, is to cognitively unload. To relieve your mind of the burden of processing stressful and unhelpful information.

Like the fact that your toes are numb, there’s an icicle forming on your eyebrow, or that there is a herd of hangry reindeer nipping at your heels.

This is how people can gain access to their deepest urges, truest thoughts and best ideas. They create a user interface for their mind that is as clear, clean and quiet as possible. It’s a blank canvas where things can float up to the surface. A soft focus that relieves their brains from their typical high level of processing power, filling them with feelings of meditative stillness.

Here’s the question we have to learn to ask ourselves. One that can help our decision making process become smoother and ultimately make our lives lighter.

Will paying this sanity tax right now be worth the privilege to never think about something ever again?

In my case, it was spending two hundred bucks on pants, socks, tights, gloves and hats, so that my running felt less like exercise and more like meditating. Worth every penny.

What’s your version of that? How do you frame your choices in this way that reduces your cognitive load?

And the cost might not be financial. It could have to do with time and energy. Making some kind of upfront investment that you know will pay dividends down the road in the form of mental clarity.

An example might be your various workspaces. If you have a private workspace in your home, a team workplace at the office, and a mobile office in your pocket or briefcase, take extra time and care to personalize them. Tailor make each space to your creative tendencies and needs so there’s no settling in time needed.

You don’t have to think, you simply snap into work mode at a moment’s notice. This will relieve your mind of the burden of processing and new ideas will flow as a natural consequence of your environment.

Are you only cold because bad clothing has you thinking about being cold?