How To Go from Being a Thinker to a Doer

It’s been said that life begins at the end of our comfort zones so with this in mind, today we explore a method developed by the Japanese psychiatrist, Dr. Shoma Morita, which promises to take us from being inactive ‘thinkers’, to accomplished ‘doers’.

Your Feelings Don’t Matter

According to Morita, in each of us, there are two warring desires: the desire to remain comfortable, and the desire to self-actualize. In order to self-actualize, we know we must do things that will make us uncomfortable. In order to address this dilemma, in western culture we often attempt to put ourselves in the right state of mind before taking action. For example, we may try to give ourselves a pep talk before cold calling a big client. According to Morita, this is the opposite of what we should do. According to Morita’s method, the more prudent course of action is to simply ignore how we feel, and make the call anyway, regardless of our emotions toward it. Thus, thoughts and feeling about an action we must take can be seen as totally irrelevant to it.  Morita suggests that often merely taking action will itself put us in the state of mind we initially desired. This is not to say we should not prepare or plan for a decisive action but rather that when the time comes, by ignoring our feelings, and simply taking action we may avoid the perils of ‘paralysis by analysis’.

Action Above All Else

But is it really possible to ignore our feelings in order to take action? The short answer is, yes. If you’ve ever worked out when you didn’t feel like working, you’ve proved this to yourself. In reality, you may never feel like doing the things you know you should do so waiting until you feel like doing them is a recipe for inaction.

According to Morita, by fighting our feelings and emotions we put greater attention on them and as a result, feel them more intensely. Morita equates our feelings to a mighty river and says that to fight them would be like attempting to push the river back to its source. Instead, he states that it is much wiser to simply accept our feelings and to take action anyway.

Anyone who gets ahead in life can tell you that one of the most important steps toward getting there is taking responsibility for your life. According to Morita, in order to get to this point, the question we should constantly be asking ourselves is, ‘What needs doing now?’ We may not be able to control our feelings but we can certainly control our behaviors. In the case of cold calling, we always have that choice whether or not to make a call. It is in this decision to act in spite of our desire to remain comfortable that allows us to take responsibility for our own life.

The Path to Self Actualization

Going forward, instead of focusing on ourselves and our feelings and emotions associated with the present circumstance, Morita suggests focusing on others and the world around us. In so doing and in taking action, we will no longer focus on our own anxieties because our focus will have shifted to the task at hand. Ultimately, it will be in the completing of such tasks that we will find the sense of accomplishment that brings us one step closer to that pinnacle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – Self Actualization.

  • Lionel Levine

    Wonderful and informative post! The sentiment here mirrors the famous verse by Goethe who stated:
    “What you can do, or dream you can, begin it,
    Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it,
    Only engage, and then the mind grows heated—
    Begin it, and the work will be completed!”