Is anyone else feeling like me?
I seem to have lost all sense of time these days. Albeit I have been at home more than I have in 40 years – like ALL the time! And I seem to have a huge amount to do but don’t seem to be achieving much.
I feel like I am torn between enjoying the time to do ‘stuff’ around the house and garden – there is a LOT of maintenance – and feeling like I should be doing much more worthwhile ‘stuff’.
I am feeling somewhat unmotivated to market, write, slog, or create something.
I feel like I should write to ‘ Dear Abby’! 😝
However, I think the greatest gift of this whole experience for me has been the opportunity to ‘slow down to the speed of consciousness’ as my great friend Dr David Martin says. And it appears to be one of the keys to the universe – or at least earth life!
I was so busy travelling and doing stuff and on that treadmill that I didn’t even realize I was alive but not really living! That I was stressed and rushed constantly – even when there was really no time urgency and that I had to do some things differently. So the universe conspired to ‘help’ me do things differently. So I have great gratitude for the opportunity to reflect and actually look at my patterns and assess what has worked and what hasn’t!
This time warp seems to make everything very surreal for me – like I am here but not really!
So here goes – my thoughts for handling the current time warp and also for making us far better listeners, partners, parents and humans generally!
The secret to success in ALL things!
I know it’s a big thing to say but read it and then judge it!
It helps to slow down, be open, mindful and present, use self reflection and sees things from at least 3 different perspectives! This formula is based on what I have learned from my friend David.
This concept is easy. Doing it not so much! For me at least anyway! Finding stillness has in the past never been my strong point! And yet it is such a valuable exercise. What does slowing down mean to you? For me – physically stop, breathe and then breathe again and stop my mind from leaping to the future (what I have to do and get done) or charging through the past (what I haven’t done or if only etc). I can go to the beach and immerse myself in the power and feel of having such beautiful energy around me. I take time to be in nature and the garden and appreciate the beauty of the flowers – or the agony of finding more lawn mites hahahahahaha! It takes practice for me – it’s so easy to fall back into the ‘hamster wheel’ trap of being busy and avoiding self reflection – but then finding the balance between too much ‘mulling’ rather than reflecting and learning is another aspect I am working with.
Being open: what does it mean?
I read a great book called Positivity by Prof Barbara Frederickson. She believes that being open is in some ways more powerful than being positive – at least at times easier!
It means that you ‘temporarily rid your mind of expectations and judgments’; you are aware and conscious of what is around you; you are open to the possibilities that lie in every second; open to the spiritual realms stepping in to help us (think the ‘Footsteps’ poem about God carrying a man on the beach in times of despair); open to what the other person is feeling right now as they speak, open to the concept that you can’t really know anything with certainty! Sounds a lot like being present to me!!
Try to see things as they truly are – not just through the lenses of your perceptions, expectations and judgments. We see generally what we expect to see – not reality!
And our perceptions skew the actual facts of any situation. Period. We never really know the actual truth – we know the ‘truth’ as we see it. And that is why it’s so important to consciously see three different perspectives – even in day to day situations there is yours, the other persons and then the source or universal perspective.
Being open is kind of like taking in everything, really looking at it and seeing it for what it is and then saying ‘oh, now that’s interesting!’
Find everything interesting – rather than attaching a label to it. Good, bad, hard, challenging, ‘here we go again’, moody, easy are all labels! And judgments.
When you’re open, everything is interesting! You really hear feelings or deeper meanings. Interactions become a journey!
So start with your mind open – if you are in your heart, it’s always open! I am also learning how to be in my heart more often!
Be present – or be mindful? How?
The next step is to be present. I have talked about this many times as have many others who have written books on it; meditation classes are all about it; joyful moments are examples of it but it’s still really challenging to stay present when we most need to!
Why do we find it so difficult to be present? Because we are rarely given anything tangible to actually do. Ellen Langer gives us the path – we either do things mindlessly or mindfully!
The more mindful we are the happier, healthier, more confident, more competent and more alive we are. Our relationships improve, we have better memory, improved learning, and increased creativity.
And the secret to being mindful is to notice new things! All the time.
Notice new things in an open way.
Being present is a consequence of noticing new things. It also makes you engaged.
Harvard Professor Ellen Langer is the international ‘queen’ of mindfulness! She is the inspiration behind the TV series called The Young Ones, in which a series of people in their late 80’s or older became younger – literally physiologically – through living as if it was 20 years earlier. They were actually ‘present’ in an environment that had been re created to match that of their environment of 20 years earlier! Fascinating!
I had the great pleasure of meeting her and she is amazing and fabulous! I loved the way she could challenge every thought we had with a simple statement that instantly made you aware of how mindlessly we had been ‘thinking’ – well judging really…and living in the past contexts we have attached to things that have not even happened yet’!
Mindful is the opposite of mindless! Mindlessness is when we are certain, blindly follow routines or keep doing the same thing, no matter if the environment or circumstances change. Its blindly following directives without consideration or understanding. When we live lives of habits and patterns ruled unconsciously by fear! When we put everything into categories without being open to differences. When we act from a single perspective – this is right, this is wrong; the rules are this.
The simplest way I can describe how mindlessness overtakes us is driving! Remember what it was like when you were learning to drive? Compare it now with the number of times you arrive home and you were completely unconscious of the drive!
We need to wake up and be aware of the constant change around us – be mindful of every second and notice all that is truly happening in us and around us; of what we have brought from the past or have projected into the future that we allow to affect the present (Self reflection).
Be mindful of or pay attention to, how we are thinking, especially feeling and perceiving, of our old habits and patterns, our beliefs (eg this is good, they are bad) and of every ‘thing’ that is around us – it helps to keeps us present.
She says noticing new things is the secret to mindfulness!!
Have a look at Ellen talking about it
Ellen Langer Happiness Conference
I suspect one of our most common mindless activities is living in the past – or being worried about the future!
The past has gone. It’s over. It’s no more! Like the dead parrot in the Monty Python skit!
Be open and consciously mindful as you answer this question!
How much of your every day thinking, reacting, feeling and behavior is directly influenced by something that happened to you in your past?
Hmmm‚ were you really honest?!
Deep seated fears or beliefs that we locked in as toddlers no longer serve us well, but not only do we not know they are there, affecting almost every action, we don’t even know to look for them!
How we take in information from today on can change our whole lives! I recommend you read Prof. Langers book ‘Mindfulness‘ and her latest one which is fascinating – ‘Counter Clockwise‘. I LOVE the way she thinks!
Catch yourself when you are living in the past; when you are imposing your past experiences and perceptions on this present (very different) situation; when you are reacting to a never happened before (literally) situation as if it was a past one – WAKE UP!
Be aware and alert to HOW you are thinking and noticing!
The future is the future! It isn’t now. It has not happened yet! It is never going to happen cos it’s always the future! That’s the nature of the future! LOL
If you waste the present worrying about the future, you can influence the present in ways like this. If you fear retrenchment in uncertain times and focus on it; you don’t sleep well because you worry at night so much about this fear; the stress interferes with your performance and so on!
All of that then highlights you as one of the people who are not performing well – so guess what – you increase your chances of being the one they ‘let go’! So worrying and bringing the future into the present is not smart!
Be Interested, curious and seek to understand
The third component is to be interested, curious and hold a desire to understand what is really going on or what the other person is really feeling. Which brings in the three different perspectives again.
Notice the changes in every minute; in every person – be interested in what has caused the differences.
I was blessed early in my life to study with communication experts who taught me a valuable lesson – to ask the question ‘what’s the difference that makes the difference?’
This is a fabulous trigger to be mindful, to notice the differences, to be aware and observant and to open my mind – and heart – more!
I am truly fascinated but what makes the difference! What makes this person happier, more popular, more successful than this one? What makes people better leaders, parents, sales people, ditch diggers?
I am curious about how others think and feel and see the world. I actively practice not living in certainty (the enemy of mindfulness!) – there is SO much I don’t know and have to learn. And at times right now – I would LOVE to have certainty! But that’s not happening – so best to be still, breathe and see what is unfolding in front of me as I slow down and stay aware.
My curiosity drives people nuts at times but it’s a fabulous conversation starter! It’s a great way to learn, to make others feel good about themselves, to grow and develop! I love to learn how things work, how they fit together and how systems can be made more efficient!
So ask questions as well as observing! Be genuinely interested in what or who is around you and what is going on. STOP zoning out and thinking you know all about this or that. Notice how people respond when you ask a question; listen carefully for feelings; respond to those feelings; l notice the differences in them again. EVERYTHING is life is about feelings!
It’s a never ending roller coaster of excitement when you wake up, open up, become mindful on purpose and really desire to understand others or see things from their perspective!
See. Now you have the secret to success in all things! And an introduction to a Harvard Professor who can prove that you can be happier, healthier, more confident, have better vision, lose weight and have better relationships and reduce the stress of ‘the time warp!
Take a minute now to stop, notice 5 new things around you, take a breath and feel what it is like to be in the present! Do it at least twice every day! And commit to being still for just a few minutes several times a day.
You will feel glimpses of peace and joy!
I am with you on this journey to finding myself – my real self – my essence!