#3: But Thinking Makes it So

#3: But Thinking Makes it So.

In William Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2, Hamlet is in conversation with his friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Hamlet gloomily states that Denmark is a prison and Rosencrantz says we think not so, my lord. Hamlet reverts with well, you think that, I don’t think that…’for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so’.

For the umpteenth time in his work, Shakespeare pins in astonishingly clear language something that humanity has been talking about since thinking started! Ha! Thinking about thinking – there’s even a word for that, metacognition. Humans can’t help it because it is part of being human.

The Power of Thought! Everything is neutral (neither good nor bad) – until someone thinks about it. Then it becomes ……. what? Surely, it becomes something that is subjective to the thinker, and therefore not necessarily correct for all. Someone asked recently (the late Hans Rosling in his book, Factfulness, p. 51): Has the number of people in the world living in extreme poverty doubled, stayed the same, or almost halved in the past twenty years? They polled 35 000 people in a wide range of socio-economically developed countries. Less than 10% of the respondents said it has almost halved, which is the right answer. Perceptions are not reality. But thinking makes them so!

Even Shakespeare was unsure. A little later in Hamlet (Act 3, Scene 1) after the quote that started this conversation, Hamlet says in his famous ‘To be, or not to be’ speechand thus the native hue of resolution/Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought’. In other words, too much thinking sinks many potentially successful ventures. Rudyard Kipling sought balance; in his poem If - the line runs …’If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim’.

Many authors (I nearly said thinkers!) today are saying something along the lines that...: If you get your thinking patterns focused and you can visualize the end output you seek, then you have a better chance – if not a very good chance – of achieving your goal. Money, relationships, calmness, mindfulness, emotional control, intellectual endeavour, all and more are within reach of the organized thinker – and soon, too!

This approach gets close to the core of the answer. But it is not good enough only to think focusedly, one must also act.

All the really successful people in any arena of human engagement have thought carefully, planned meticulously, acted with courage and resilience, measured with exactness, held themselves and others accountable with rigour, learnt from the lessons offered up by their experience and that of others, and reaped rich rewards. Spiritual, material, emotional, non-material, every type of success has been available to every type of person who has followed this process.

Let your thoughts become actions and your actions your desired outcomes. No ‘knowing – doing gap’ for you! Follow the steps here and bring to yourself all the success you think you deserve.

So, what’s the answer? It must be, ‘Yes, I think so!’

Ian Widdop


June 8, 2019

3 Responses

  1. amina frense
    | Reply

    Love this , love Invictus …truly inspirational .Thank you Ian.

  2. Carol
    | Reply

    Thought provoking, Ian. Thank you.

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