Zia Hassan

Input From Other Minds

Cal Newport, on a podcast recently, talked about his new book on digital minimalism. It’s the idea that we need to start thinking about what we consume online just like we do with food consumption. That our online habits are making us unhealthy. That we should remove all unhealthy inputs for a while and then only add back in the ones that have actual value, as opposed to the strictly habitual ones.

He mentioned that everyone needs some solitude in their day, and he defines that as “freedom from the input of other people’s minds.”

That’s kind of beautiful.

Even if we are alone and browsing Twitter, it’s still not solitude because we are still receiving input from other people’s minds.

Even if we are on the sea alone and reading a book, it’s still not solitude because the book is input.

Same with listening to music or watching tv. Being alone doesn’t necessarily equate to solitude.

I thought about how often I actually achieve solitude. Mostly it’s when I write, like right now, and perhaps this is not only freedom from other people’s input, but a focused beam of light from my own mind’s input.

Maybe that’s why reflection is so powerful. It’s solitude and intra-personal connection rolled into one habit.

It’s also why my best ideas come to me in the shower, and why I have waterproof pad in my master bathroom.

Turns out my best ideas are the ones that come directly from me when I leave my mind simmering.

Everything else is covered by input from others.