A Harvard University study reveals that 47 percent of the day you’re not living in the moment.
We’ve all had those times when our kid comes up, asks a question, that we don’t hear, and out of parental guilt and/or irritation we say, “Yes,” not having a clue what we just agreed too. Only to look outside moments later, and see him run butt-naked through the sprinkler.
Well maybe that just my experience, but you get the point. We have these moments in our day when our minds are not focused on the important stuff, like our family.
According to this study, almost half of our waking hours are spent not living in the moment. That’s a shocking and sad statistic.
Why does it feel like we can’t BE PRESENT?
It’s the evolution of our brain’s ability to multitask—that and the fact that the pace of our society leaves us no choice, but to do a constant mental-juggle.
In the morning when you brush your daughter’s hair, you’re not paying attention to the scent of her strawberry shampoo or listening to her sweet chatter about yesterday’s art class. You’re planning next week’s extra-curricular shuttle service or rehashing the argument you had the night before with your spouse.
Heck sometimes when my kids see me staring off, I’m racking my brain trying to remember if I showered the day before or the day before THAT!
In The Mist of Multitasking, We Miss The Opportunity to Emotionally Connect
I’m neurotic about making the most of my time so the Harvard study freaked me out. I decided to challenge myself to be present during our pre-school morning mayhem (why I picked this time of the day to experiment is beyond me).
First, I had to define what being present looked like to me:
- Quiet my mental chatter
- Stay focused on the task at hand
It was insane as usual. The kids fought over the left sink, my son freaked out because I forgot to wash his favorite monster truck t-shirt, and my daughter relentlessly complained about her oatmeal.
It was the same AND it was VERY different
Time Slowed Down
I actually felt my kids’ frustrations with the obstacles they faced at the crack of dawn. Before being present I would have got annoyed by their grips, but today I was able to empathize with their concerns.
Why wasn’t I MORE overwhelmed, beings I was tuned into this circus?
This is the best way that I can explain it:
Imagine that you’re in a busy subway station and that you’re trying to listen to Taylor Shift’s Bad Blood through your phone speaker. Then, you remember that you DID bring your ear buds and plug them in—quite the sound difference.
Life Becomes AMPLIFIED When You’re IN THE MOMENT
When you pay attention to your five senses you can’t listen to your internal reel, which taxes our stamina to handle the external input.
Yes, there’s a way to shut off that mental chatter. You know that voice inside your head that reminds you of the things you didn’t get done, messed up on, and have yet to do.
Once I was able to turn that off and tune into my senses (sight, smell, feel, taste, hear) I unknowingly allowed my neurons to connect with what was in front of me; rather than, what was circulating in my head.
I was able to attune to my daughter when she stated her case about the damn oatmeal. I felt the inner struggle in my son when he fought like hell to get the better sink, and I noticed the lethargic pace in my husband before he walked out for work.
I would have missed everything, if I allowed my mind to wander.
I saw my morning with fresh eyes. Regardless of the fact that it was still loud, crazy, and at times, unbearable, it was real life.
Like in the movie scene when the lead character finally sees the true meaning of life. The background noise fades, the motion slows and everything becomes crystal clear.
Give it a Try:
- Designate a specific time in your day to focus on what’s in front of you.
- Bring your mind back each time it tries to sneak off. Just say, “No, I’m doing XX right now, I’ll get back to worrying later.
- Ask yourself throughout the phase, “What do I hear, see, taste, feel, and smell?”
It’s impossible to live in this state of bliss forever. The reality is, the world that we live in doesn’t allow for that. BUT anytime you feel disconnected from yourself and/or your family, simply unplug and tune into what’s surrounds you.