Do you ever find yourself doing something, or being somewhere, but not really being there? You’re watching a soccer game, or are part of a conversation, and suddenly you realize you have no idea that your child just scored, or that you were just asked a question? Have you found yourself driving somewhere, not really noticing anything along the way, and wondered how is possible you’ve arrived safely?
A friend, who is a martial arts black belt, recently shared this story with me. He was at his dojo, doing his warmup routine. He’d started his routine as usual, when his sensei stopped him, and asked him to start again. No big deal, he started again. A moment later the sensei stopped him again, and again asked him to start over. Of course, he started over. At this point he explained to me that he’s been a black belt for many years, and most certainly, he knew what he was doing. After several more stops and starts, he was now feeling pissed off. What did the sensei want, and what was he missing? Then his sensei explained: “You are trying to maximize convenience. You need to appreciate the rhythm of the moment.” Hmmm.
“You need to appreciate the rhythm of the moment.”
While he told me this story several weeks ago, I can’t stop thinking about it. Too often we rush through the activities in our life without thinking about what we’re doing or why. We’re just going through the motions, checking things off our list, rushing from one to another and never really participating in or enjoying any of it. Maximizing convenience. Sometimes, even when we are doing activities that require us pay attention, like yoga, exercise, martial arts, driving or even talking with a friend – we are trying to maximize convenience. We are doing it – to get it done – but our body is in one place and our head is in another. How can you possibly enjoy what you are doing, if you aren’t fully there? How often are you guilty of this?
Imagine for a moment that you’re at your child’s soccer game. What kind of difference would it make if you were not only at your child’s soccer game, but could comment on the plays, the coaches calls, the goals scored? How would this kind of attentiveness impact your child? How would it change the conversation you have with your child on the way home?
Now imagine you are having coffee with a friend, are speaking with a colleague about a problem they are having, or you are having conversation over the dinner table at home. How often do you find yourself in a conversation, but you are distracted? They are talking and you aren’t really there. What kinds of conversational clues are you missing? They are hurting, but you don’t notice the sound in their voice? They say something, but it’s not really what they mean and you miss the opportunity to ask an important question? You’re there, but you’re not.
- Do you find yourself looking at your watch, your phone or the clock over their shoulder (hoping they don’t notice)?
- Are you thinking about the next thing you have to do? Are you list making in your mind? Are you wondering how long this will take?
- Or are you pre-occupied with the last thing you were doing, still thinking about a prior conversation, missing what matters most in your life.
Having your body in one place and your head in another is robbing you of connection in your relationships, its stealing opportunities from you to notice the small things that matter, and is preventing you from enjoying the moment.
How often do you find yourself doing things mindlessly? And what can you do to appreciate the rhythm of the moment?
Here are a few simple things you can do to improve your mindfulness, calm and quiet your mind, and begin to enjoy your life more.
- Good Intention. You need to decide what you want to do differently and why? Maybe your intention is to slow down a bit, to enjoy the changing of the seasons, or pay more attention in conversations so you can build better rapport, or perhaps you’d just like to be more present during your workouts, to enjoy them more. No matter your goal, it all starts with a good intention of doing something different, so you can appreciate the moment a little more.
- Mindfulness. Once you’ve made a conscious decision to begin to paying more attention and you’ve determined WHY this is important to you, you need to learn to become more Mindful. This is simply the practice of paying attention more often. Noticing. Being aware. Getting out of your head, and participating in the world around you. A simple way to start becoming more mindful is to begin incorporating the Axiogenics Central Question into your daily thoughts – “what choice can I make, and action can I take in this moment, to create the greatest net value.” If you start simply with sticky note reminders of this question, you can practice not only being mindful, but mindful with a good purpose.
- Practice. This isn’t going to happen overnight. Just like any change or improvement you want to make in your life, it takes practice. If you start with the good intention of becoming more mindful, and you have sticky note reminders to ask yourself the simple Central Question throughout the day, your attentiveness will begin to improve over time. The more you exercise your mindfulness muscles, the better you will become.
“What choice can I make, and action can I take in this moment,
to create the greatest net value.”
Do you find yourself too often maximizing convenience, just going from one activity to another? Do you struggle with getting and staying in the rhythm of the moment? What if you were able to be in the moment more often? How would that impact your life, and the lives of others? Let me know what you think, I’d love to hear from you.
Kristin Clark is a certified Axiogenics Coach, guiding individuals and organizations in leadership development by learning to make better value-based decisions, Linking their Thinking to Create Performance Improvement in their personal and professional lives. Learn more at: www.YourInsightCoach.com.