You think too much.

What a strange insult.  How can someone noticing that you think be insulting?  I recommend considering it a compliment if anyone says this to you.  Thinking is a good trait.  I learned that at school.

Perhaps no phrase expresses our societal aversion to thinking better than this one.  Thinking, since it is solitary, is considered by many to be anti-social.  Thinking doesn’t work well in groups.  It impedes the supply of fast ideas, something as popular in America, I suspect, as fast food. Get your ideas here–hot and fast!  Super-size your ideas for only a dollar more!  Would you like fries with your idea?

Most people will buy a box of microwavable, individually-wrapped ideas on sale at Sav-a-Bunch rather than make their own.

If you don’t believe me, watch a TV news interview or go to a meeting.  Spitting out something quick and catchy with very little thought behind it is prized.  Asking for more time to think something through is equated with the fast answer: no.  People who think before they speak aren’t negative; they’re, well, thoughtful.

In practice, the expression “you think too much” is often used to mean “you are too indecisive,” or “you are complicating the issue,” or “you are connecting this small issue with a bigger one in a way that makes me uncomfortable.”

None of those things are bad either.  Sometimes decisions should take time.  Many seemingly simple issues are only marketed as such; they are complicated by nature.  Often, bigger issues inform the smaller ones.  A thoughtful person recognizes the nuances or a topic, analyzes the potential ramifications of a particular action or choice, and  shows awareness of various overarching principles or theoretical underpinnings.

So if the insult “you think too much” is hurled at you, say thank you, or maybe “I’m glad you noticed; I’ve been working on that.”

Bonus:  “No, that would be my father; I think just the right amount.”  Laugh to yourself when the person doesn’t recognize the allusion to the Three Bears.  Think, but don’t say, “you think too little.”

Want to enhance your message with performance art?  Respond by looking deeply at the person while remaining completely silent.  Interrupt your stare from time to time with a skyward glance and cradling of your chin.  After five or six minutes or an hour, say “I am thinking of a proper response.”  Replace “response” with “rejoinder” and you’ll really let them have it.

Feel like responding in kind?  Say, “Yes.  I was thinking about your knees.”  No one likes their knees.

Want to go full-on playground?  Say, “your mother does” or “that’s not what your sister says.”  That’ll show them that you don’t think too much.