Apr 3, 2011

Mindless vs. Happiness

Seth (Nicholas Cage): What's that like? What's it taste like? Describe it like Hemingway.
Maggie (Meg Ryan): Well, it tastes like a pear. You don't know what a pear tastes like?

Seth: I don't know what a pear tastes like to YOU.
Maggie: Sweet, juicy, soft on your tongue, grainy like sugary sand that dissolves in your mouth. How's that?
Seth: It's perfect.

~ City of Angles (1998) 
Just when elevator doors are about to close, two other people entered the elevator. I smiled at one of them and greeted, "Hello!" He scowled, as if offended and turned away.

All of us have our own experience being mindless ourselves and mindless behavior of others. Locking ourselves out of house, cars, forgetfulness, daydreaming, callous behavior on roads, in offices... It is estimated that people spend nearly half the time thinking about something other than what they are doing, and that is what results in mindlessness...doing something and thinking about something else.

Mindlessness is a coping mechanism, coping with stress and anxiety of decision making, coping with information explosion, pressures of modern life like unpleasantness of driving through a messy traffic jam, having to take decisions under pressure and so on. It is the way our mind protects itself from overload – like tripping mechanism of a fuse, by distracting us from work at hand. In that case, why bother? Mindlessness is not a simple annoyance, there is direct positive correlation with stress levels. More mindless one is more stress one is carrying and consequently less happy one will be deep inside, less one will enjoy life or work or whatever that they are doing, at the moment.

If we want to be aware and happy, here are the symptoms to watch for: worrying about future, day dream of yester years, too inflexible or too flexible with rules (especially those set by oneself), beliefs, ethics, norms, processes (eg. open and blatant disrespect to traffic rules and admiring crooks etc.)

Mindfulness on the other hand means being open minded, empathetic, aware, being in the present, non-judgmental and non-reactive. The memorable scene from the movie City of Angels portrays this idea. Maggie Rice goes out to fetch some more pears after that never returns (becomes an angel)!

What are your thoughts and experiences?

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