Why Smell the Roses?
Why Smell The Roses 🌹🌹
What’s ‘in a rose?’ you may ask.
Out of all the flowers on earth, the rose, despite its thorns, is associated with love, beauty and virtue. Roses are also associated with gratitude hence to Stop and smell the roses invites us to Pause and be grateful for all we were given - transcending the daily worries in a state of deeper mindfulness.
Turns out MRI studies of the brain have revealed what is called our default mode network. Apparently, it’s the part of our brain that screens out so much stimulus. Maybe this is why we admonish each other to smell the roses because our brain, more focused on efficiency, will have us walk right by the flower and never see it, much less smell it.
How much of life are we missing because of our default mode network?
Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living.
Maybe because if we don’t intentionally examine our life we won’t be living it - rather our habits will be living it.
Wordsworth said habits rule the unreflecting herd. And isn’t this what the Why Team is all about? Taking time to reflect, to examine, to shut down and/or expand our default mode network?!
Hopefully you have experienced an awakening on some level - those moments when you see so much more than you saw before. Unfortunately, to wake us up, it often requires something particularly painful to hit us hard, awakening us from our habitual ways of living. These moments can put us in the fetal position and ironically lead to a rebirth; what some may refer to as character building experiences. Funny how most of us would not ask for a character building experience - because we know what it could entail - my character is just fine thank you :-)
So, this leads me to a recent insight I received regarding willful blindness.
I have heard this comment many times over the last couple of years and I decided to go deeper. Looking up the definition, I found something fascinating:
And it is likely linked to the Why of our brain’s default mode network. It may also explain why we don’t like to examine our life.
We are creatures of habit and habit is efficient. If we had to think about each tooth we brushed in the morning, all the energy burned up thinking would limit our ability to do much else. It’s why one of the big mistakes we make with New Year’s resolutions is to set too many of them - just thinking about all of them will keep us from completing even one of them.
Of course we can take the first step of a thousand miles, but think to much about the thousand miles and we will not take a single step. Hmm, it’s interesting how unproductive and inefficient it is to think - maybe this is why most people don’t.
Einstein said we can’t solve our problems with the same thinking that created them. He often did what he referred to as thought experiments.
Why not set aside some time to think and rethink.
I think this is where a thinking coach can be priceless. Just sit and think out loud with someone. Just setting aside a dedicated hour a week to think and to hear what you think could bring you great awareness. You might even smell the roses as you leave their office. I really do think the examined life is much more worth living. But what is this thing called willful blindness?
Our naturally developed default mode network keeps us from seeing as we did as a child, filtering out all the inefficient stimuli we sat in as a kid, filtering out the wonder and now no wonder relegating our lives mostly to blinding habit.
It seems that willful blindness is our own willful contribution to a default mode way of living.
The brain has developed to be largely about surviving rather than thriving. We often are forced to think when in danger or contemplating danger, this is another reason we prefer habit - as too much thinking can bring anxiety. Why are so many attracted to cult leaders? Because they view that person as someone who can do the thinking for them. Ever heard the term sheeple as opposed to people? I’ve certainly felt like a member of a herd leaving a profession sporting event :-) And isn’t the reference to the blind leading the blind as the sheep leading the sheep?
Consider that the shepherd thinks differently than the sheep, he or she believes differently, and challenges the status quo. But this takes courage, it means stepping out of the herd - and stepping away from the herd brings more consciousness, and yes, more anxiety.
There are those who fear public speaking more than death. I suppose you have no emotional suffering if you’re dead, but the fear of death, well that’s another thing - and why so afraid on stage? Because you are now separated from the anonymity of the herd. I’ve even likened it to skydiving, it’s scary, and you can certainly metaphorically die on stage.
Yes, we all have a naturally developed default mode network, but with application of Will, we can see the roses more often, we can fear less the fetal positions that will bring rebirth and we can think differently than the masses, we can believe differently and challenge the status quo.
It is scary to stand apart, but to thine own self be true. Choose the road less traveled, do not be willfully blind, challenge and examine your habits, awaken, see and smell the roses!
And today, especially, share them with someone you love.
Make it a great week!
Comments are closed.