This is an excellent short video by my buddy Bob about the difference between actually thinking and simple mental activity. To quote him,
Mental activity does not constitute thinking. All of nature’s creatures respond to outside stimuli. You can see, hear, smell, taste, touch. Our mind is being inundated from outside sources and that causes mental activity – that’s not thinking. Thinking is when you take a power that’s flowing into your consciousness, that flows to and through you and you originate thoughts. And you put the thoughts together and you create an idea. And if you create an idea – if you can see something in your mind, you can hold it in your hand. And I don’t care if you’re 80 an 18, it makes no difference.
It’s definitely easy to confuse simple mental activity for original thoughts and ideas that we consciously develop. Of course we all have chatter in our head full of millions of thoughts a day, but this is most likely just your mind responding to outside stimuli.
“Wow, that’s really cold in my mouth.”
“He looks very intimidating.”
“There’s too many people in this store.”
It’s really all just observations and responses to your environment, really. Original thoughts and ideas are ones that propel you forward. Creating an idea for something in your life is a powerful force, and as Bob mentioned, if you can see it in your mind you can hold it in your hand. I’m going to envision the type of life and career I want in the next 10 year and roughly how I want to get there.