Give your mind a chance to focus

Our lives are oftentimes too busy. There’s too much going on at any given point to process it all, and many of us forget how to take the time to actually experience the moment and appreciate it.

Let’s use a hypothetical example:

Say you sit down to enjoy a movie while you eat lunch. 20 minutes into the movie you get a text message from a friend on your cell phone, with a link to a funny social media post. So you reply to them and check out the link, and maybe you spend a few more minutes browsing on your phone when your washing machine buzzer goes off, telling you it’s time to switch out that load of laundry you were doing. 10 minutes later with the new dryer load started you realize you forgot to thaw that frozen casserole you made last weekend for tonight’s dinner, and you wonder what you’re going to have to go with it. Then halfway through your preparation of the side dish for the meal that will be hours from now, the doorbell rings for a package you have been waiting for. You go get it and excitedly open it up as you have been eagerly awaiting your new blender so you can make all sorts of drinks. It’ll be perfect for that friendly get together that you’re having next weekend….

…what’s happening right now in the movie? What about your lunch?

Now I know, the common arguments against my example here would be things like “That’s just how life works!” or “My mind works better when I’m multi-tasking!” or perhaps even “There’s nothing I can do about that! Those things need to be done!” and to some extent I agree, those thoughts may ring true in certain situations.

However, just take a moment to think about how many directions your mind has to be in during situations like this. You’re essentially focusing on everything aside from the present moment. Does it make you feel at peace when you are juggling a half dozen things at any given point in your head? Does it truly serve you to be worried about Thursday’s dinner preparations when you haven’t even had Monday’s breakfast?

Just because something can be done, doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea to do it. Just because you can juggle a million things in your head and usually organize the chaos, doesn’t mean you should have to experience chaos in the first place.

Granted, life doesn’t always go the way we wish, and there are times when we must react quickly to a change in situation, but we tend to over emphasize and exaggerate the frequency of those situations where we need to react quickly. We take small events that do not need immediate response and put them on the same level as things that need to be done without delay, and the result can be a tremendous amount of stress in our lives for really no good reason. Not only that, but your mind loses track of the present moment, and you end up being unable to appreciate it.

In the example scenario I gave, that text message didn’t need to be replied to immediately once you noticed it wasn’t urgent. That would have saved you the bulk of that distraction. The laundry could have easily waited until at least after you finished lunch, if not the movie. Likewise for the dinner preparations. The package at the door, that’s one that probably would be best to take care of sooner rather than later, but save the opening of it for later on, you’re not making those drinks right now.

The more distractions and busyness you can set aside, the better you’ll be able to enjoy that lunch and movie. Better yet, maybe next time you’ll just enjoy the lunch or the movie by itself, without doubling up activities, allowing you to take in the present moment fully engaged in simply one particular activity.

It may take some practice, training your thoughts away from the chaos and the need to control the results of outcomes and events, but the more you can simply be present in the current moment, rather than losing your mind in the future or the past, the more at peace you will feel, and you’ll be able to truly appreciate even the little things of the here and now.

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