Developing Our Thinking Ability
A True Story
on Jul 31, 2023
In his inspiring book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, Sean Covey enlightens teens that it doesn't matter much which degree course they pursue at the university. What matters most is how well they can think at the end of their university education.
I couldn't agree with Sean Covey more on his assertion that what matters most in our lives is how well we think. And I hasten to add that it is thinking ability that separates winners from failures because we all have the same 24 hours each day. Take, for instance, the case of my high school classmate Lawrence Sikuku and I.
Sikuku was always either position 1 or 2 in our class in every end-term academic results of our high school years. I, on the other hand, started out at position 32 in our first term in high school. And even though I did gradually improve academically as our high school years wore on, I never managed to appear among the top 5 students in our class.
What is interesting to note is that Sikuku and I ate the same food in the dining hall and we were taught by the same teachers in the 7 subjects we did in common in senior high school. We also read the same course contents. Actually, I think I read more than he did.
In the English subject for example, I studied while in Form Two all the three set books we were to be examined in the final high school exams known as KCSE. And you know what? In spite of my zeal in studying the set books in Form Two, I didn't score an 'A' in English when I sat for my KCSE exams two years later.
Sikuku got an 'A' in English in his KCSE results. And I never saw him begin studying the three English set books as early in our high school career as I did. Isn't that an interesting observation?
Since I read more than Sikuku did, how is it that I never managed to trounce him in exams throughout our high school career? It's because of the way we thought and processed knowledge. Sikuku not only thought more clearly than me, he also had superior reasoning skills.
Talking of my high school learning, I finished high school in November 2005 loaded with a lot of knowledge. I could solve simultaneous equations, balance chemical equations and explain why the banking system in Switzerland is well developed. The mean grade 'A' I scored in my KCSE exams was well deserved.
Yet even with all the knowledge I had in my head, I couldn't think clearly. I was often confused. And the SAT exam brought that out unmistakably when I sat for the exam thrice in 2006 and 2007. (The SAT is an American exam that tests the reasoning ability of students.)
It was like my mind was programmed to think confusedly when I was finishing high school in November 2005. For how else can you explain that people accused me of being mentally mixed-up even when I was at the university in 2007?
Having realized how profound a difference our thoughts make in our lives, I have been striving to develop my thinking ability. Just like my mind was programmed to think confusedly when I was leaving high school, I am now programming it to think clearly, creatively and positively. And my efforts are bearing fruit given the peace and mental clarity I am feeling most of the time.
Yes, our thinking ability makes a profound difference in our lives. It is what separates winners from failures. It is what made Sikuku outperform me in high school exams. And Science has proved there is a correlation between our physical health and the nature of our thoughts.
Because our thoughts have such a profound difference in our lives, I urge you, my beloved reader, to also develop your thinking ability. And I can think of no better way of improving our thought life than by reading, meditating and writing consistently. So read, meditate and write as often as you can. Adieu!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the above story on developing our thinking ability, you might also enjoy another one on "Developing Mental Clarity" which I wrote more than five years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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The Scourge of HIV/AIDS
A True Story
on Jul 26, 2023
I know, I know, the scourge of HIV/AIDS is an issue we would all rather sweep under the carpet. But because the disease is real and has no cure, it's worth discussing. Recently, I read in the newspapers that HIV infections are on the rise in Turkana, a county in northern Kenya. The disease, which is spread mostly during sex, is indeed real.
Discovered in America in 1981, HIV/AIDS became a global pandemic in the '90s when I was a boy. During the 1992 U.S. presidential race, both the Republican and Democratic parties had AIDS sufferers speak at their conventions to show Americans that their presidential candidates were serious about tackling the AIDS pandemic.
Here in Kenya, President Moi declared HIV/AIDS a national disaster in November 1999. Billboards were erected along major roads to raise awareness of the disease. And some concerned officials visited schools to show students films about people suffering from AIDS.
Perhaps due to the government's efforts to sensitize people to the dangers of HIV/AIDS, my Dad became concerned about the disease. One night in the early 2000s when my eldest brother Joe Kagigite was at the university, Dad warned him that there was HIV after he noted Joe had been absent from home for several days. It was apparent that Dad was worried that Joe could have been engaging in risky behaviour.
Even some of my agemates were also concerned about the disease. A schoolmate of mine in high school named Justus told us during a Christian Union fellowship in 2004 that he had slept with girls during school holidays and the thought that he could have contracted HIV had worried him sick. So it came as a great relief to him when he tested negative for HIV.
Then another handsome chap named Eric [not his real name], who used to live in my neighbourhood, confided in me on one night in 2006 that he had been seduced by a certain lass into sleeping with her.
"I hear that lass has...", I began saying to Eric in Kikuyu and before I finished my sentence, he blurted out, "Has AIDS?"
Well, I wasn't thinking of the lass having AIDS but from the way Eric reacted with his question, I could tell he was dead scared that he could have gotten infected with HIV during his tryst with the lass. That's how seriously some of my agemates took HIV/AIDS.
Some other agemates, however, didn't seem interested in listening to those spreading awareness of the disease. There was a night during my high school years at Starehe Boys' Centre when someone tried to show us a film about HIV/AIDS. Most students were unwilling to watch the film and clamoured to have the usual Hollywood movies shown on the screen. I thought that was very unwise of the students.
And when I was a first-year engineering student at the university in JKUAT in 2007, some classmates skipped HIV/AIDS classes, apparently because they thought the classes were irrelevant to their mastery of engineering concepts. I personally attended each of the classes and enjoyed taking part in discussions about the disease.
Despite all the information I have heard about HIV/AIDS since I was a boy in the '90s, I have never known anyone with HIV. Neither have I ever seen someone with full-blown AIDS. But I have been alarmed enough about the disease to abstain from premarital sex. And just to be sure the deadly virus isn't in my blood, I went for a HIV test on one afternoon in 2017. I tested negative.
Even though there is still no cure for HIV/AIDS, I don't know why the Kenyan government has scaled down its campaign to sensitize people to the disease. Maybe it's because anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs have been made to help HIV-positive people lead normal lives.
Since I don't like taking medicine, I would hate swallowing ARV drugs every now and then. Which is why I have resolved not to engage in premarital sex. I just don't want to contract the virus.
My beloved reader, if you are HIV negative, I urge you to also safeguard your status jealously. Even with the ARV drugs, living with HIV is not easy, what with the stigma and constant fear of falling ill. So abstain from sex if you are single and be faithful to your partner if you are married. Ciao!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed the above story on the scourge of HIV/AIDS, you might also enjoy another one on "The Time I Went For HIV Test" that I wrote several years ago. Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.