I know you’re busy. You have more commitments than your energy and time allow.
I also can guess that many of your commitments are not taking you in the direction where you want your life to go. They’re not aligned with your values.
We’re constantly bombarded with requests from work, from family; even your phone keeps demanding your attention. Like most people, you’re probably going to react instinctively to those demands, rather than responding intelligently and in a way that aligns with your goals and values.
What if you could take just one second to make a better decision? Or at least to get a handle on why you’re making that decision? This extra second could make a radical difference to you and to the people that matter to you.
Imagine your boss walks in and asks for yet another task. Your reaction might be to agree. Seeing your in-tray already overflowing, you feel the familiar overwhelm; so what difference could an extra second make?
Well, that extra second is about the time it could take to re-engage your thinking brain; the part that comes up with a response like, “Well, I could do that; but which of these other tasks do you want me to not do?” I realise this could be a bit controversial the first time you use such a response; however, the boss should eventually get it – after all, bosses need training, too!
Perhaps you’ve had the experience of walking away from a conversation, realising that things could have gone better if you’d spoken differently; you’d have had a better result. That extra second might be the time it takes to remember the creative response that you thought of after last time.
Finding the extra second
Being aware of what is going on right now, both within your head and in the world around you, while it is happening gives you control. Are you being pushed around by internal thoughts? Do the requests being made of you align with what’s most important to you? Could they even be taking you away from what’s most important to you? This extra second is usually all that‘s needed to allow your subconscious mind to engage and bring these relevant issues into our awareness.
What I have just described is often referred to as mindfulness. Mindfulness is a collection of skills, and they can all be developed with practice. Many people use a formal period of meditation, say 10 to 20 minutes each day. You’ll learn to pay attention to some object of focus, often your breath. Your mind will start to wander, and as soon as you notice that the mind is wandering, this is mindfulness. This ability to be aware of when you are focused and on topic is a skill you can develop in yourself.
Just as a musician or athlete practises their skill before they need it, the practice of mindfulness is a way to develop a useful skill for the modern world, to enable you to cut through some of the overwhelm and distractions.