Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Sometimes I think I overthink things. Or maybe it’s just that I try to find cerebral approaches to everything, including problems that don’t lend themselves to that type of solution. Or, perhaps more accurately, I tend to rely instinctively on cognitive approaches to situations, although other approaches may be equally, or even more well suited.

Sure, I wish I could be more like that 97.7% of the population that reacts to context changes seemingly spontaneously, but that could have other ramifications. For example, I might develop an interest in watching sports on TV, or start wandering aimlessly around the subway platform staring at my cell phone. I might even find myself enjoying large group activities.

But without adopting any such radical behavior or personality changes, is there a way I can prevent myself from overthinking every situation? Well, not every situation, but at least many common situations that don’t offer obvious or intuitive approaches?

And just how much thinking is overthinking anyway? What is the right amount of thinking? Perhaps situations could be categorized in terms the appropriate amount of thought required. Experimental psychologists speak of cognitive load as a measurable, or comparitively measurable quantity of mental activity which impacts the brain’s ability to process additional sensory input and to perform multiple tasks apparently simultaneously.

So we could define overthinking as devoting too much cognitive load to the decision making process in some particular context, but then we need a way to calibrate various scenarios so that we can determine what the appropriate level of cognitive load is. In effect, all we’ve done is recast the original problem of what constitutes overthinking into different terms, without actually arriving at any metrics for answering the question.

Or maybe … ?

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