I started my corporate career many years ago with a company whose motto was “THINK”. I didn’t “think” about it much, because, how else could you do your job if you didn’t? I am now realizing how much this motto has both become a relic of the past and what we need most of all.

Maybe it was all the cloudy and rainy days in a row, maybe it was not being around other people in social settings for a period of time, or maybe it was the planetary alignment, eclipse, earthquake or meteors. Whatever the cause, I was not exhibiting, shall we say, the most chipper of attitudes. And I seemed to be encountering human beings who only gave me fuel for the fire. People who stood me up – not once, but twice. People who start inflammatory conversations, out of the blue. People who zoomed their vehicles through the crosswalk I was in. People oblivious to the reaction of their dog to mine. It was way too much for me!

How do I deal with this? Like a cranky person. First, I rant. Then I stew. Then I get depressed. However, I am wise enough now to know that there are things that help: Talking with a trusted professional, getting enough sleep, watching what I eat, and getting exercise. I also have learned to turn the tables and ask myself “Why? What am I putting out there that is attracting this? What have I got to learn from this?” All good.

During one of my introspections, which started with my inner rant about how people are so self-focused that they don’t pay attention to others any longer, I had the realization that the reality is that people just don’t THINK anymore. Because we don’t have to. If you want to call someone, the number is already in your phone and you press a button or tell the device to do the calling. If you want to go somewhere, you merely follow the instructions on your device. If you are driving and you get too close to something, your car will brake for you. Some even will steer for you. You set the speed to that which you wish to go, and your car takes it from there. You are free to scroll aimlessly and just look at things. You don’t have to think about anything. And if you DO want to think about what is going on in the world, just turn on the TV and any news report will tell you what you how you should feel/think about something. And the government is getting more and more into prescribing what you can and cannot do, so there’s no need to think about that either. 

And here’s the thing: I am guilty of utilizing almost all that I mentioned. I am not exempt from own my diatribe. 

So, what is so wrong with all these things that make our life easier? Nothing per se, but this is the tip of the iceberg. With the advent of AI, it is going to become easier and easier, to the point that we will not NEED to think – something else will do that for us. And the danger in this is enormous. When we lose the ability to think, we lose the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. We lose our connections, our personal responsibility, our HUMANITY. IBM was not just ahead of its time in the computer space, it realized the key to a viable and vital future. We need to THINK.

Bringing it back to myself, I am challenging myself to lessen my reliance on devices and automation, and am consciously striving to connect with the world on all levels. I am asking myself “What if…” more and following through. And there are many different activities I can do to help me on this path:

  • Take a new way home – turn down an unfamiliar street and see what is there. Find a new route. 
  • Attend in-person events – go where I can meet new people and have actual conversations. 
  • Listen to authors who write about topics previously never of interest to me 
  • Read more 
  • Write more – release what is lurking inside that no longer serves me; Find ways to open new pathways to imagination and learning
  • Ask Why

To this last point, I am reminded of my son at around 2 years old. All he would say was “Why?”. It was enough to drive you crazy…but it did make you think, even if it was just coming up with another way to say the same thing you already said 8 million times. Asking ourselves and others “Why?” is a great way to engage in conversation, to challenge, and cause one to think.

I, for one, am willing to take up the challenge, and I encourage others to do the same. Evolution is a natural and necessary part of existence, but allowing ourselves to give up on humanity does not have be a part of that equation. What can you do to make a difference?

Just think about it.