I went to graduate business school. At said school, the way you "won" in the classroom was by taking limited information and quickly coming to a decision about what to do. This obviously was in a workplace setting through case studies, but it was really training for life in many respects.
That training was no doubt valuable (I paid for it for years after!), but I think has gross limitations. While we can never have full information before making a decision, we need to be careful not to rush to judgment in life. It’s easy to quickly label a person or a situation, and act according to that label.
I loved Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now. He has a new book A New Earth: Awakening to your Life’s Purpose which I have not fully read, but I came across this passage and wanted to post it here as it clearly illustrates the value in having the ability to pause as a key ingredient to thoughtful living.
Words, no matter whether they are vocalized and made into sounds or remain unspoken as thoughts, can cast an almost hypnotic spell upon you. You easily lose yourself in them, become hypnotized into implicitly believing that when you have attached a word to something, you know what it is. The fact is: You don’t know what it is. You have covered up the mystery with a label. Everything, a bird, a tree, even a simple stone, and certainly a human being, is ultimately unknowable. This is because it has unfathomable depth. All we can perceive, experience, think about, is the surface layer of reality, less than the tip of the iceberg.
Underneath the surface appearance, everything is not only connected with everything else, but also with the Source of all life out of which it came. Even a stone, and more easily a flower or a bird, could show you the way to God, to the Source, to yourself. When you look at it, a sense of awe, of wonder, arises within you. Its essence silently communicates itself to you and reflects your own essence back to you. This is what great artists sense and succeed in conveying in their art. Van Gogh didn’t say: "That’s just an old chair." He looked, and looked, and looked. [And saw!] He sensed the Beingness of the chair. Then he sat in front of the canvas and took up the brush. The chair itself would have sold for the equivalent of a few dollars. The painting of that same chair today would fetch in excess of $25 million.
When you don’t cover up the world with words and labels, a sense of the miraculous returns to your life that was lost long ago when humanity, instead of using thought, became possessed by thought. A depth returns to your life. Things regain their newness, their freshness. And the greatest miracle is the experiencing of your essential self as prior to any words, thoughts, mental labels, and images. For this to happen, you need to disentangle your sense of I, of Beingness, from all the things it has become mixed up with, that is to say, identified with. That disentanglement is what this book is about.
The quicker you are in attaching verbal or mental labels to things, people, or situations, the more shallow and lifeless your reality becomes, and the more deadened you become to reality, the miracle of life that continuously unfolds within and around you. In this way, cleverness may be gained, but wisdom is lost, and so are joy, love, creativity, and aliveness. They are concealed in the still gap between the perception and the interpretation. Of course we have to use words and thoughts. They have their own beauty – but do we need to become imprisoned by them?
Words reduce reality to something the human mind can grasp, which isn’t very much. Language consists of five basic sounds produced by the vocal cords. They are the vowels a, e, i, o, u. The other sounds are consonants produced by air pressure: s, f, g, and so forth. Do you believe some combination of such basic sounds could ever explain who you are, or the ultimate purpose of the universe, or even what a tree or stone is in its depth?