“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” – Plutarch
We live in an age of information consumption. We are literally using every spare moment to fill our minds with stuff.
TV, Facebook, Twitter, DVDs, Netflix, newspapers, magazines, radio, podcasts, iPods, iPads, Airbooks, cable, books, blog posts, essays, novels…..
How much free time to you have in your day? How often do you clear your desk? How often do you clear your HEAD?
I am a strong advocate of mental “unravel” time. Time to simply let your brain empty out, and let new ideas and thoughts appear.
Most of the time we are so caught up in the Fear Of Missing Out – FOMO – that we never switch off our phones, our computers, our TVs. Just in case something mind-bogglingly important appears in one of the 47 different social media feeds we constantly check.
What would happen if you switched off the mental clutter for a moment? Maybe for an hour, or a whole day? Would the world end? Would your life come to a screeching halt?
I seriously doubt it.
I believe instead that by switching off the constant feed of information, we’d be able to slow our brains down, and create the mental room to have some new ideas.
We’d have the chance to imagine and create something, have a meaningful conversation with someone, or perhaps even make a positive impact on one other person in the world.
Cos here’s the thing. Every time we pick up our phones to indulge in a little mental escapism – and believe me, I know you’re doing it to escape, just as I know I’m doing it to escape – every time we do that, we squash our imagination.
It’s impossible to use your imagination when you’re constantly processing consumed information. And yet, our imagination is the most important part of what makes us human, and is the source of our creativity, which is the source of us being amazing in the world.
My best ideas come to me either in bed after the lights are out, or in the shower, or on a run. At those times, there’s no information feed, just idle thinking time. Co-incidence? Hah.
I find running or yoga are especially good for this emptying the mind and allowing new thoughts and ideas. A long period of deep, rhythmical breathing combined with physical movement is the mental equivalent of clearing your desk and doing the filing. It gives us an endorphin rush – so we feel naturally happier and more focussed – and it lets our mind settle, so the subconscious can work on problems in the background while we stay comfortably in the moment.
So, back to Plutarch. In Ancient Rome, while they may have had iPhones, I think their cellular network coverage was rubbish, so the ultimate distraction-in-your-pocket wasn’t quite as much of a problem.
Even so, clearly Plutarch felt we needed to find a spark within ourselves, instead of just filling our heads with stuff. Smart guy. Also, very, very relevant, even 2,000 years later.
I love this quote personally, because I can honestly tell you that I haven’t felt my mind be this kindled in a long time. My heart and my mind are ablaze most of the time now, since Bel and I created the mission for the Root Cause. Wanna hear it? Here goes:
The Root Cause is about educating families to make better lifestyle and food choices, to get to the heart of what’s important, thereby creating a Family, Love and Wellness Revolution.
My mind is officially kindled.
I’m going away for the weekend to my father-in-law’s house, a long LONG way from civilisation in a town called Reid’s Flat. We have about 4-5 hours of driving each way to get there, and usually Bel and I get plenty of time to chat and discuss ideas while we’re driving.
This weekend, I’m challenging myself to stop filling my mind unnecessarily, and instead GO OFFLINE from the Internet and Social Media for the entire time we’re gone. The only thing I will do online is post my daily IQ for you all. But apart from that, I’m using it as an opportunity to unplug.
Instead, I’m going to write, take photographs, and BE WITH the people in my life. My kids, my wife, and my father- and mother-in-law.
Do the same thing. Switch off for a day. Make Sundays an un-plugged day for you and your family, and see how much more connecting you do, and see how much more time you are free to have new ideas.
Are you in? Leave me a comment. Make it publicly accountable (like I have).
If you see me online other than posting these IQ’s on Sunday or Monday, you have my full permission to kick my ass.
PS Today’s IQ image was taken right outside my house, looking down my street towards the ocean. The colours are all real, and this was taken on my iPhone. This is a small example of why I am so grateful to live where I live, to be alive to experience wonder and beauty like this, and to be a photographer. That is all. :) xo