How To Entertain A Thought

After studying scores of great thinkers like Leonardo Da Vinci, I think I’ve stumbled upon what really set them apart from the rest of the folks living (and thinking) at the same time.

It’s remarkably simple. They learned how to entertain a thought.

Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

Hmmm. To entertain a thought without accepting it.

We need to do that. Everyone needs to learn how to be good host or hostess to new ideas. In fact, our goal should be to become the Martha Stewart of mental entertaining!

What if you treated a new thought like a guest?

It’s easier to think about mental entertaining if we put together a to-do list, just like Martha. Here it is:

#1 Make the first move.
First of all, you issue an invitation. Nothing fancy. You don’t have to make any major investment or lifelong commitment. You’re simply inviting this person in.

It’s the same with initiating the entertainment of an idea. You might see a quote on the side of a bus somewhere, and decide you’d like to explore that concept more deeply. Or, maybe you find yourself bumping into the same topic all the time, and so you make up your mind to learn more about it. Either way, you need to be ready to initiate the process. Don’t hide–you won’t meet new ideas if you scurry away whenever the doorbell rings.

#2 Prepare.
Uh-oh. Your house is a mess. You’d better do some cleaning. You’re not really trying to impress, but hey, you could certainly do some sprucing up and get the place looking neat and inviting.

Prepare for a new thought in the same way. Make some space in your mind to think about something new. According to Deepak Chopra, the well-known author on health and longevity, the average human has 60,000 thoughts a day. Pretty impressive? Well, here’s the kicker: 57,000 of those are the same ones you had YESTERDAY! Now that’s some serious clutter! Get rid of a few of those dusty old thoughts and make room for new ones.

#3 Offer a warm greeting.
When your new guest arrives, be warm and inviting. After all, you’re hoping to start a friendship. Put your best foot forward.

It’s the same with an idea. If you face it with skepticism, fear or detachment, you won’t be entertaining it for long. You’ll be eyeing your watch, yawning, or looking for a way to end the discussion early. You’ve got to be open and full of anticipation to prepare an environment in which new ideas will be explored and integrated fully. Just as it’s no fair making lame excuses or having your friend call to interrupt the visit, it’s also cheating to cut out too soon when it comes to entertaining an idea.

#4 Listen, inquire, and show interest.
Ask questions. Dig a little deeper. Find the connections to other people, places, and activities. Learn as much as you can about your new idea.

Learn how to entertain a thought. With a little effort, you’ll become a perfect host or hostess to new ideas that come your way. And guess what? You’ll have no hangover, no cleaning up, and no regrets.

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