Have you ever had the experience where you didn't have a lot on your mind and felt wonderful as a result? You may have noticed feelings of lightness, relaxation, openness.
Some people might call this empty-headed. But I think there's wisdom in this state of mind. Empty-headedness is generally thought of as foolish, ignorant, even silly. As though the empty-headed person is not taking life seriously.
What if that not-taking-life-seriously is actually a key to living well, creativity and seeing potential where others can't?
Now, I don't at all mean we should think that there's nothing worth paying attention to or improving or that we should go about our lives as if nothing and no one could benefit from compassion and innovation! But _how_ we go about that effort to make things better has a huge impact on how effective we are.
When we grit our teeth, hunch our shoulders and furrow our brow, it has the effect of shrinking our creative capacity for problem solving and solution finding. Energetically, we contract. We become mentally taxed and emotionally compromised.
But if we're empty-headed, we're not wrestling with thoughts or ideas. Instead, we're taking a look at what comes into our heads, noticing whether it's useful or has some potential, and if not, just not paying any more attention to them than they deserve (which is minimal to none at all).
We stop feeling adversarial about whatever subject is at hand. Our task becomes less about how effective or successful we can be (in other words, it's less personal) and more about the viability of the ideas themselves.
Rather than being against a situation (or another person) by being super focused on what's wrong, we are for a solution that creates harmony, well-being, equity and inclusion.
It's too often the case that we dwell upon the negative and neglect to savor the positive. Especially in conditions that may be life threatening or affect the bottom line.
Dwelling on the negative, whether it's a situation or how we're reacting to it - makes us more susceptible to additional negative thoughts which then leaves us with very little mental space for a fresh perspective.
We see this frequently when we're confronted with extreme examples of poverty, inequality, a lack of basic human rights, injustice, the consequences of climate change. Most of us care deeply about making the world a better place but that caring sometimes gets caught up in the feelings that arise when we think it shouldn't be happening.
That kind of thinking is a form of resistance. And, as Byron Katie would say, we are arguing with reality. It already exists, whether we want it to or not. So now what do we do?
We all know what kind of feelings arise when we think something shouldn't be happening: anger, outrage, retaliation, revenge, frustration, depression, worry.
But instead, what if we focused more on the feelings that accompany a sense of possibility, of a solution, of hope and connection and mutual benefit?
Letting go of thinking that limits us is really not that hard to do. Certainly we can't control what thoughts come into our heads, but we can notice when we're ensnared in them and they're pulling our energy down, making us feel desperate and afraid.
Once we psychologically "take our temperature," we can then allow our attention and our energy to open up for something better to appear. In fact, Moshe Bar wrote that "innovative thinking is our default cognitive mode when our minds are clear."
Isn't the word clear a synonym for empty?
And when our minds are clear (or empty) we're open to life. Open to solutions, to positive outcomes and experiences. That default mode provides a sort of landing strip for new ideas with the type of energy that produces not just temporary band-aids but real, lasting change.