This article might just save your life.
Do you multi-task?
Probably multiple times a day, right?
Well, contrary to all the articles you’ve no doubt read about the ways to “multi-task the right way”, I’m here to tell you that you probably shouldn’t do it at all and here’s why…
Earlier this week, my 4-year old daughter ran across a busy street by herself. All alone. Without me.
She was unharmed, but I’m sure you understand just how horrifying that scenario is.
Now, I realize that you probably didn’t expect to read something like the previous two sentences in an article about mindfulness (or the lack of it), but the back story is an essential part of understanding how my ruminations on the extreme importance of living with fewer distractions came about.
So, please indulge me for a bit…I promise I’ll get to the point in short order.
I left my daughter safely (or so I thought) buckled in her car seat, while I ran across the street to the elementary school entrance to get my older daughter.
It only took me about 2 minutes total to grab my 6-year-old’s hand and then turn around to return to the car.
During this time, my 4-year old had unbuckled herself, opened the door and run out into the street to “come give me a hug.”
As I sit here playing with my daughter a few days later, I feel compelled to keep hugging and kissing her, but my mind keeps returning to something she said to me the day after the incident.
I had scooped her up to tell her how much I loved her – much like I did once I got over being so upset that she had crossed the street alone. She leaned back from me a bit and looked at me curiously. “What’s the matter?” I asked her.
“You just told me you love me“, she said, “but I didn’t do anything wrong.”
My kids surprise me all the time, but this statement made my mouth drop open.
After reassuring her that she didn’t need to do anything wrong for me to tell her that I loved her, I began to reflect on the times that I most often say those three little words to my daughters:
- at bedtime, before they go to sleep
- when I drop them off at school and day-care
- when they get hurt and need cheering up
- after apologising to them for getting upset or yelling at them
It seems that the common thread for my saying “I love you” was usually either something upsetting happening or my leaving them.
Where Mindfulness Comes in
See? I told you I’d get there eventually.
I thought back to the day of the incident and why I was parked across the street in the first place. I had been late for pick-up (again) and to avoid having to circle the block and keep my 6-year old waiting for me, I went across the street.
Had I arrived on time, or early, I would have had ample time to find parking and leisurely walk to the school entrance. I’ve never before been that concerned with my constant tardiness, but in this instance, I thought about what my lateness could have ultimately cost me.
So, what does this have to do with mindfulness? Well, for starters, it’s about being 100% where you’re supposed to be in any given moment.
What I didn’t realize until now is that my punctuality issues are a matter of too much distraction. I’m never where I’m supposed to be on time because I’m always too busy playing catch-up.
Keeping Up With the…Costa Ricans?
The fast-pace of today’s world causes many people to feel that it’s wrong not to try to squeeze every possibility into each moment. But, in reality, it’s this kind of thinking that is wrong and does nothing to contribute to our overall happiness.
Just ask the people of Costa Rica.
Given that Costa Rica is “still considered a ‘developing nation’ whose per-capita income is less than one tenth of ‘first world nations’ like the U.S or the U.K”, it’s clear that money, material possessions, fame or notoriety don’t have anything to do with overall well-being.
To the contrary, it’s the Costa Ricans’ focus on sustainable living, education and self-referral that helps them earn the top spot on the happiness list.
The Costa Ricans often refer to the idea of “Pure Vida” or “pure life” and they take delight in each moment as a celebration. There doesn’t need to be a reason for experiencing joy…it’s just what’s expected.
And what’s expected of us here in this country?
To do more, be more, achieve more and never stop moving – which has landed us at a very low-on-the-totem pole rank of 114 on the Happiness Index.
I know the multi-tasking go-getters in all of you might rebel against what I’m about to say with every fibre of your being…but you’ve got to let some things go.
You can’t be fully present for the things that matter if you’re always planning for the next thing in your head.
Put everything except the most important essentials on the backburner. Keep a running list on your memo-pad of “things to get to when time allows”, then take a deep breath and enjoy the moments.
Each. And. Every. One.
So, how will your life improve when you start paying more attention?
Well, I, for one, have made a practice this past week of really listening when I’m having a conversation.
I used to be so eager to jump in with a comment just to keep the conversation flowing, but this week, I wanted to make a genuine effort to stop, talk less and take in more. The result after just a couple of days is that I actually answer my phone now.
I still prefer a face to face chat, but my shift from talking a lot to listening a lot made the prospect of phone conversations seem much less exhausting.
Much more important than pleasant phone conversations, though, is the lifestyle effect that slowing down and being more mindful can have on us.
Will learning to live in the moment bring perfection? No. But I’ll settle for second chances and tiny glimpses into “Pure Vida” on a daily basis.
This article was originally a Guest Post from my blogger friend Tisha Berg.