A friend recently mentioned that she is reading John Maxwell’s How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life. She was a little puzzled. What does thinking look like (as opposed to reading, web surfing or sitting like a lump)?

Her question brought a quote from Wallace D. Wattles to mind:

“Thinking is the hardest and most exhausting of all labor; and hence many people shrink from it….Thinking is growth; you cannot think without growing. Every thought engenders another thought. Write one idea and others will follow until you have written a page.”

So what does thinking look like? It looks like writing.

I downloaded an app called Penzu some time ago, but initially I was not sure how to use it. Penzu is a password-secured journaling app that can be used on all platforms: PC, Apple iOS and Android. Here’s a neat feature: you can use the voice recognition capabilities of a smart phone (in Apple’s built-in Notes app, for example) to make a note, then email the note to your unique and private Penzu email address, where it is automatically added to your journal. Pretty nifty.

Maybe an app isn’t for you. A piece of paper and a pen will do nicely. Or one of those cool moleskine notebooks. The issue isn’t the tool one uses, but that one uses the tool.

So I committed to writing a few minutes every day. Not surprisingly, the first several days were, well, whiny.

“I’m worried about this. That stinks. Why me, why me, why me!” You get the picture.

Eventually I started writing about other things, but the process allowed me to get rid of some mental gunk. It stopped the hamster-on-a wheel in my head, the endless loop of anxiety, fear and negativity (which is like the worst kind of prayer, sometimes summoning the very outcome one dreads).

Then something unexpected happened. I relaxed. I got quiet. I got peaceful. I got grateful. I slept better.

I think there is something to this thinking thing.