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SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS LARGE AND SMALL, FROM INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS TO CONDITIONS IN YOUR OWN COMMUNITY, SHOULD NOT BE OVERSIMPLIFIED. Neither should they be needlessly complicated. The wonderful depth and flexibility of the human mind is a tribute to divine wisdom and generosity. But most people go through an entire lifetime making scant use of the creative powers of mind, heart and soul entrusted to them by a loving Creator. As a result they “half live” instead of finding the satisfaction and fulfillment that is the joyous lot of those who understand with Cicero that “to think is to live.” Here are some tips that may encourage you to develop and put to good use your God-given capacity to think clearly.

Do your own thinking
Did you ever look closely at a rubber-stamp? It puts the same imprint on every kind of surface. One dictionary meaning of “rubber-stamp” is “to endorse or approve of as a mere matter of routine.” If you simply swallow what you see, hear and read without analyzing it, you are not living up to your full potential as an intelligent person. If, on the other hand, you weigh, examine and sift the evidence, you will be more likely to find the truth and share it with others.

Think before you act
“Spur-of-the-moment” actions are usually based on muddled or superficial thinking. Even a moment’s reflection may have far-reaching consequences. For instance, a man on the brink of committing suicide was prevented from jumping from the top of the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco Bay because a passing truck driver made him stop and think by remarking: “Look, Mac, the most precious thing you’ve got is your life. You know why?” “No, why?” the man asked in surprise. “Because you’re dead without it,” came the truck driver’s reply. The troubled man thought for a moment and began inching down from his dangerous perch.

Think objectively
Develop the facility to think beyond a narrow, selfish point of view. If you overcome the human tendency to wishful thinking, to hear only what you want to hear, to make snap judgments and to be fearful of the facts, you will be more apt to welcome the whole truth, not try to dodge or distort it.

Think hopefully
A hopeful person sees an opportunity in every calamity while a cynic sees a calamity in every opportunity. One unknown author put it this way:“A pessimist is one who feels bad when he feels good for fear he’ll feel worse when he feels better.” Accustom yourself to think hopefully underthe most disheartening circumstances and you will be able to say with the Hebrew Psalmist: “Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever.” (Psalm 146:5-6)

Think things through
Much of the fuzzy thinking of our day could be clarified if more persons would think things through and thus avoid making rash or erroneous judgments. Two lawyers were discussing the trend away from law and order when one expressed the opinion that a return to the Ten Commandments was our only hope. “What have they got to do with it?” his companion scoffed. “They’re just a set of worn-out customs.” The first lawyer challenged him to re-read the Ten Commandments and pick out even one of them that could be discarded without endangering our homes, schools, freedom and economic life. Several days later the skeptical man made this sheepish admission: “I’ve been racking my brains to find just one of those Commandments we could do without and still keep things going. Now I see your point.” Take a few moments to think things through and you are more likely to uphold the truth than to miss or distort it.

Think charitably
A genuine love for others is the best preparation for clear, unbiased thinking. The hostile, envious or bitter person seldom thinks straight about matters human or divine. As one medical authority put it: “The person who chronically has a chip on his shoulder probably wants love above all else. He does not want to alienate people…but he fears that people will not love him, and so he hits first.” By permeating your thoughts with a spirit of charity, you will deepen and broaden your mental powers, as well as avert the danger to which St. Paul referred when he said: “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1)

Check and double check
Years ago, a telephone operator in a small town got a daily call asking for the correct time. Finally she asked the customer why he consulted her each day. The man replied: “I have to be very careful to get the exact time because I blow the town whistle at noon.” “My goodness,” the operator gasped, “I always set my clock by your whistle.” Much of modern confusion is the result of thought and action that is based on incomplete evidence. Make a reasonable investigation of facts before arriving at a decision, otherwise you may inadvertently delude others as well as yourself.


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