Relearning how to think according to David Foster Wallace

One of my favorite thing I’ve read this week is a section pulled from writer David Foster Wallace’s seminal keynote, This is Water. It’s worth rereading.

The lines that have stayed with me over the past years, maybe 8 or so, are the following:

” In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.” 

“Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default-settings. They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing. And the world will not discourage you from operating on your default-settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self.

Source: This is Water

As luck would have it, David Foster Wallace’s words appeared in James Clear’s free email newsletter (linked below):

On the importance of controlling your attention:

“Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about “teaching you how to think” is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.”

Source: James Clear’s 3-2-1 newsletter