Instantly Unlock the Mind's Power to Solve Your Problems

Your mind is powerful enough to get you out of any "box" that confines you.

Posted Nov 16, 2020

Have you ever been stuck on a problem? Have you experienced your mind running in endless circles, unable to find an answer? If you've felt yourself mired in an apparently unsolvable problem, you're not alone. At one time or another, everyone has been stuck in a rut, defeated by old mental concepts, rigid belief systems, and toxic conditioning or habits. Any of these can keep you in arm's reach from a solution. 

Fortunately, your mind has a potent ally: The ability of mindfulness to help you tap new and fresh ideas. 

FreeImages photo by Grazyna Suchecka
Escape from your mental boxes!
Source: FreeImages photo by Grazyna Suchecka

Before I explain three great mindfulness strategies for opening the doors of the mind, I'd like to share a quote that I read recently. 

"The infinite library of the universe is in your own mind." — Vivekananda, teacher 

How wonderful to think that the mind can access an infinite library of possibilities. As you'll see, anyone can overcome those fixed mindsets and limiting beliefs that cause conflict, fatigue and burnout.

Here are three key mindfulness strategies to tap the infinite library of your mind and get creative.

1. Open Your Mindset and Let Go a Belief in Limitations. 

A belief in limits, for example, can make it hard to find novel ways to approach almost anything. One famous example of a fixed limit long held to be true was that “it’s physically impossible for a human being to run the mile in under four minutes,” (a widely held belief until Roger Bannister did otherwise). 

Let's look at an example of a pre-cognitive, or fixed, mindset. Mindfulness researcher Ellen J. Langer once conducted a study, as described in the book Mindfulness, in which a woman pretended to have sprained her knee, just outside a pharmacy. When passers-by stopped to help, the woman asked if that person could go into the pharmacy and get her an Ace Bandage. The pharmacy, which was in on the study, had removed all the Ace Bandage branded items. There were still bandages available, but no Ace Bandages. Most people came out of the store empty-handed because they were fixed on the pre-cognitive mindset of thinking that only an Ace Bandage would do the job. That's why one of the hallmarks of mindlessness is being unable to be adaptable and creative. 

Creative Strategy for Breaking Out of Fixed Mindsets: Ask New Questions 

One example of an unwillingness to see things differently is typified by the worn phrase, “we’ve always done things this way.” A mindfulness approach, however, asks: Why have we always done it this way?  Sometimes, just thinking of new questions offers a new approach. 

2. Change Your Context and Take a Break

Research shows that subjects in a study who took breaks generated significantly more creative ideas than those who worked continuously. This means take a pause from trying to get a solution. Take lunch away from your desk, and allow your mind to work unconsciously and open up to what your conscious mind can't see. 

A shift in context can also be thought of as how we perceive our work. For example, reexamining the type of role you play in terms of how your job benefits society could facilitate recognizing ways to change responsibilities within a business structure or even to switch careers if need be. 

Creative Strategy:  Change Your Location and Context 

Go sit in nature, take a walk, have your lunch in a new location, take a mental break by doing something you enjoy, and let the problem go. Don't worry ... your unconscious mind will still be looking for unique solutions. 

3. Harness the Power of Curiosity

When work or relationships feels stale or caught in a cycle of reactivity, what can you do? If you have some fixed expectation about how an employee, partner or others in your life "should" behave, try applying curiosity to the situation. You can get curious instead of getting angry! Imagine how that can shift a relationship. Not surprisingly, it was Einstein who advised, "Never lose a holy curiosity.

Curiosity is very much used in mindfulness to shift out of one's personal perspective in order to explore a larger viewpoint. With curiosity, you can be more open and alert in the moment. Curiosity has even been used to help those with addiction learn to observe how their cravings change over time. 

Creative Strategy:  Get Curious About the Situation, Person, or Problem 

When you get curious about something you immediately change your stance toward it. You can be more open and understanding as you inquire about why someone behaves as they do. After all, each of us does things that others do not understand! Curiosity also means allowing and accepting. This is an important way of showing respect and regard for others. Keep in mind that as you change your reaction to curiosity, it will change how others respond. 

In one sense, we can be grateful for our problems because they can lead us to the doorway through which we can find creative solutions and mindful opportunities. My book, Simply Mindful, offers many suggestions for using mindfulness to open up the mind. Good luck using these three strategies as you use your mind in new, creative ways.