A person processes around 120,000 impressions a day. Our eyes, ears and other senses perceive things and send an enormous flow of information to our brains. With all those impressions thoughts also arise. These can be superficial thoughts such as “what a nice sun”. Other impressions come in deeper, such as images on Netflix or in the news, some of which can cause intrusive thoughts.

The thought box

Do you recognize that? Thoughts that pop up again and again. Thoughts that wander constantly in your mind: things you still have to do, things that you don’t want to forget or things that you did that you now regret.

In the book “The thought box, live happily and successfully with a tidy world of thoughts” Olaf Hoenson describes briefly and concisely how you can better organize your thought world and how you can give your wandering thoughts a suitable place.

This is how you set up your thought box

Thoughts evoke different feelings in you. By becoming aware of your thoughts and by actively dealing with them, you can give these thoughts a place. This ensures that you get a better grip on the feelings that these thoughts generate in you. This, in turn, allows you to continue to concentrate on the things that you are doing.

To help you with this, you can always ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. What am I doing?
  2. What am I thinking about?
  3. Which thoughts do not help me and are better “clean up” now?

If you have the answers to these questions, you can start “cleaning up”. Olaf explains the effective technique of visualization to give thoughts their proper place. Create a box in your mind for non-helping thoughts. Every thought you don’t need is put in a drawer.

In the process, you learn to become increasingly aware of helping and non-helping thoughts. You place these non-helping thoughts in one of the drawers of your “thought box”. Because of this the wandering of these thoughts stops, this creates more peace and space.

If you are unable to place the non-helping thoughts in your ‘imaginary though box’, you can of course also teach yourself to let go of wandering thoughts in a different way. For example through mindfulness, writing or drawing.


Do you suffer from wandering thoughts?

How do you deal with this?


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Ard Van Oosten

I am a psychiatrist trained in business management and researcher. My heart goes out to talent development. I connect knowledge of the brain with leadership and offer tools for personal growth and development.

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