What is Mindlessness? When you are not thinking about what you are doing. Instead you rely on preprogrammed scripts that may not be appropriate. Mindlessness is a huge block to creativity.
I was going to talk about mindfulness, but it is more fun to look at mindlessness.
I have a favorite story from my life that illustrates mindlessness:
When I was going to university in Texas, I had a Volkswagen bug named Walter. It is the only car I have ever had that had a name. I don’t remember who named him, but even my friends would ask to borrow “Walter” rather than “my car.” I was cleaning my horse’s stall, when 2 good-looking guys asked if I could boost their car. “Sure,” I said. I wanted to look good and I was a bit nervous, which is often when we mindlessly follow rules. And that is what I did. What I had learned about cars was that the engine and therefore the battery are under the hood. I pulled up hood-to-hood and jumped out to open it. To my surprise and embarrassment there was no engine. I laughed, “that’s right it’s in the back!” Next I jostled the car around until the trunk was in line with their battery. I hopped out, opened the trunk and there was the engine, but no battery. Baffled, I remember that there is something a beetle doesn’t have–perhaps it’s a battery. The guys assured me it had to have a battery, so after a long pause to ponder where it could be, I remembered that the man I bought the car from told me it was under the back seat!
One could write off my unfamiliarity with my car as a gender thing, but I regularly had to reattach some electrical wires to the engine, so I was actually very familiar with the location of the engine.
If I had been present in this situation, I would have easily found the battery. Instead, I shut down my knowledge and experience of my car, because I was trying to look good!
I mindlessly followed my fixed beliefs about where things are in a car, despite my experience with this car.
Mindlessly following preprogrammed beliefs like this blocks our creativity. Creativity is all about drawing novel distinctions and in order to do that, we have to be present in the moment. A few years ago, someone told me, “Be where your hands are.” In my experience, this is one of the best ways to allow your creativity to flow.
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