I've mentioned before that I work with senior citizens in my day job. Today as I was working I could overhear several talking in the community room, laughing and having a good time. One said "While I'm eating my supper, I'm thinking about what I'm going to have for a snack later."
We've all done it. As we get cleaned up in the morning, we think about the cup of coffee waiting for us. As we drink our coffee, we think about the half-done project at work. As we work, we think about lunch. As we have lunch, we think about dinner. As we have dinner, we think about the book we're reading. As we read, we fall asleep thinking about what's waiting for us at work.
Whenever we are, we are never there. We live life one step ahead of ourselves, focusing on a world that doesn't yet exist and losing contact with where we are now.
In Happiness, Emotion, and Fulfillment - Part II I described stress as largely being caused by focusing on things about which you cannot, or will not take action. Living in the future is one of the major causes of stress in our lives. You can't act on the future. It's not here yet. And while you focus on what's going to happen, you lose what is happening now.
This isn't to say not to plan for the future. Anyone with good sense will plan for the future. But when you do your planning, that's what you'll be focused on at that moment, not the bowling you are going to do on Wednesday.
I've talked about using bare attention to learn how to be aware in the moment again. All (all? yeah, right) you have to do is fully focus on the task you are currently performing. If you're watching TV, just watch TV. Don't think about work, the weekend, the fight you had with your wife, what you're having for dinner. Just watch TV. When you're talking to your wife (husband, child, other person), just do that. Don't compare this conversation to other conversations you've had. Just have this conversation. Whatever you're doing, just do that. It may sound easy, but it isn't. I've been working on it for years, and still spend more time somewhen other than now.
What you get out of it is well worth the effort. Your senses are more functional. Thought flows more easily. Stress and tension are reduced. You are more productive. You may even learn to smile again.
One thing at a time. Maybe it would catch on with the techies if we gave it a snifty name like monotasking?
[tags]bare attention, multitasking, monotasking, stress reduction, contentment[/tags]