I have come to the recent conclusion that we all suffer from a touch of ADD (attention deficit disorder). With society trending towards a life that runs fast and shallow it’s hard not to become quickly distracted from what you’re doing, what you intended to be doing, or the goals that started you current actions. In other words, we are not enjoying the moment. Any moments. We’re not getting deep enough into the rewards and lessons life gives and our relationships and personal growth are suffering.
I find myself racing through my workouts as my brain has already left the gym and is trekking onward into my day’s chores and events. I try to multitask household chores while my 8-year old wants to chat, not giving her my full attention. Though I watch little television, I record the shows I do enjoy then blissfully fast-forward through the commercials. When I have to watch a show live, I’m very annoyed at the interruption of commercials and channel flip – again my attention needs continual stimulation.
I knew things were bad when I was listing to NPR on the radio in the car the other day and spaced out during an interesting segment. Suddenly I realized I was missing important information and automatically sought to rewind the program. Oops, no Tivo on the car radio!
I am one of the few who struggle daily to stay in the moment as I am aware strongly of the importance of the now. But I know many of us aren’t even aware of how little we are paying attention, and sadly we are missing much of our lives.
So what can we do to slow down and not miss so much? If there were a one-size fits all answer to that I’d have written a book about it by now, and hopefully made lots of money. Others have tried, Eckhart Tolle for one, “The Power of Now”, which I read and praise highly. However, even after reading his book, my ability to stay in the moment is inconsistent at best. Life just pushes into your brain and all good intentions scatter like ants in the rain.
But I believe that my repeated attempts to keep my focus on the now are not in vain. If I can cherish and savor even one hour a day I am ahead of the curve. Way ahead! Perhaps the next day or week I can succeed in “moment sipping” (a term I’ve coined) an entire afternoon. Then it’s just another boulder hop away to sipping an entire day! Optimism will, if nothing else, keep me encouraged by my little successes and I will continue my endeavors.
What advice can I leave you with on this esoteric subject? Whenever you can, stop and acknowledge where you are, who you are with, what they mean to you, and what is the purpose of your current actions, etc. Use your senses to see (really see), smell, taste, touch. Remind yourself that the past cannot be changed and the future will happen regardless, so just be content NOW or take action NOW to change what you are not happy with. But even then, stay present as you steer your life towards a different goal. As John Lennon said: “life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.”