When I’m hired by most businesses it’s to do one of three things. I either go in to handle something emotional that’s extremely awkward or delicate; I train their management and staff in effective human relations; or I wander around finding efficiencies. In the latter case, my naivete to a business will often be a big advantage. I’ll notice obvious things that their expertise blinds them to.
The latter ability comes from having a quiet mind. When you’re not yakking to yourself in your consciousness anymore, your mind is now open to receive the universe. You’re awake and aware. You notice things. So even though it’s my job, I see this stuff all the time—even when I’m not working.
A good example is at my local grocery store. This is a volume business. Here’s the sort of place where there’s a lot of people coming through the tills., so speeding up the process is a useful efficiency—that’s why you see laser tills that read bar code, or even the automatic rolling belt that helps the groceries get to the till. One additional efficiency often goes unused. Worse, it’s actually counter-acted by people who have ceased to stay childlike.
Kids always wanna know why. They can look at anything and find a why in it. Why’s the sky blue? Why do cats and dogs act differently? Why’s that guy your uncle and this guy your friend? If you keep that doing throughout life (because you’re not busy telling yourself about yours or other people’s weaknesses), then you are free to notice things like, why does the grocery store till not totally cut the receipt paper?
I’m not sure if your store is using these machines, but a lot of grocery stores have tills that print out your receipt, then it pauses to cut the paper 90% of the way through, and then it prints your debit receipt separately. If your mind is open, this makes obvious and perfect sense. Because what has every other store historically done after you buy something? What did the very grocery chain I was in previously do before they had these tills? Answer: they were just like everyone else. They had a stapler next to the till and they stapled the two receipts together because that’s what 90% of us want.
Today, some clever cash register designer noticed that fact and built a paper staple into his design. The two receipts are attached without the cashier having to do anything. It’s a convenient time-saving device for both the cashier and customer. And yet; 90% of cashiers tear off the staple and hand you two receipts. This isn’t really their fault in the sense that they are they’re doing it foolishly. My point is, aren’t doing it consciously at all. They have gone blind from thinking.
People get so deeply immersed in an ego state that they are mostly talking to themselves or others about times other than the present moment, which means they are not present in the current moment, where the questions are just as obvious as a lot of the answers. Instead they were entirely oblivious to the facts at hand.
You may have imagined that, at least they should be perturbed that this cash register won’t cut the darned receipt all the way through! At least if they acted to end that frustration they might bump into the answer and save themselves some work, the customer some hassle, and the designer would like it a lot better I’m sure. Such is the value of frustration.
Be awake. You do silly things all day, but you’re so busy moving thoughts around in your head that you forget about the real world: the moment you are in; where you can really make a difference. Forget going quiet if you find that difficult. Turn that idea around. Instead of stopping your mind from talking and creating an ego, have your mind be too busy collecting the present moment to be able to create an ego. If it’s busy inputting the world it can’t be occupied outputting an ego.
Take it in. The entire universe. Absorb it and ask the childish questions. There’s a special kind of peace in that. And you’ll notice things so obvious that other people will think you’re a genius, when all you have is a quiet mind.
Now go create a wonderful day for yourself!
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.