“Don’t Know” Mind

Shaun Emerson Blog Leave a Comment

I am creating this post on Tuesday afternoon prior to polls closing. I was going to write about men’s health, but figured it would be a little numb not to share something that is born from an election that is so consuming.

What are you thinking this morning? How do you feel? 

On Monday, our Morning Meditation theme was practicing a “don’t know” mind. Many (most?) of us have been fretting over the election’s outcome. Depending on who you supported, your mind may be painting a worse case scenario for the future of our country and our lives. As we consider a “don’t know” mind, can we recognize that we often obsess over thoughts that we believe are real, but aren’t? According to the National Science Foundation, an average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive thoughts.  If we repeat those negative thoughts, we think negative way more than we think positive thoughts. We certainly need to be intentional about a negativity that is our nature.

Additionally, a Cornell University study found that 85% of what we worry about never happens and with the 15% of the worries that did happen, 79% of the subjects discovered that either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or that the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning. Accepting and practicing that we don’t know how things will play out can be critical to a better life.

To be clear, a “don’t know” mind doesn’t mean we are ignorant or absolved from responsibility to engage the world. Rather it involves letting go of our fixed ideas about the world, including our expectations. The big idea is finding openness and being present in the moment. Can we become more aware of our own reactivity, and more open to the perspectives of others? Can we engage actively but not be consumed by the outcome?

“Not knowing” is not a fixed position but a way of engaging with the world just as it is, right here and now. We don’t know what’s going to happen next, but we do the best we can according to what we can see. We remain ready to change what we are doing as the situation, or our view of the situation, changes. 

So, did the election results play out to your expectations? What were your expectations really based on? Hope? Fear? A lot of work? Can you accept the results, proceed with your life and begin to realize that we really don’t know what will happen next?  

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