What We Need
I just listened to a TED Talk about happiness. The speaker was Matt Killingsworth and his solution for having us feel happier sounds simple enough.
Stay in the moment.
I’ve gotten this kind of advice recently from a few different people. One person said to “slow my thoughts down.” I do not know how to do that, really. But it’s all part of mindfulness that has gotten so much attention of late.
I went to a lecture once where this speaker from Integris was teaching mindfulness. He instructed us to pretend we had a grape and intend to eat it, but DO NOT EAT IT. Observe the grape. What is its color, shape, size? Then, put it in your mouth, but DO NOT EAT IT. How does it feel in your mouth? What does it smell like as it approaches your lips? Now you can take a bite, chew slowly, and notice the different textures and smells, and tastes. Really make this one grape a five sense experience.
Well that’s a lot of work for one grape, but I get the point. Staying in the moment can keep you grounded in reality instead of spinning out on various “what ifs” and other frustrations.
Killingsworth is a researcher who invented an app that aggregated data about what people were doing at a given moment, and if their minds were wandering during that moment or not. He concluded that people were less happy when their minds wandered. You can listen to it to get all his sciency reasoning, but that’s the gist of it.
If you stay focused on a task—even a mundane one like brushing your teeth—you will be happier. Staying in the moment certainly has its place. But what about people like me who are planners, dreaming up various possible scenarios so we can get the logistics right for a golf tournament, or building a timeline for the big 50th birthday party?
I suppose there’s a balance too, right? One that I need to work on during this very unfortunate time when the best answer to “how are you” is “I’m uncomfortable.” I hope that taking some time to focus on what is going on in front of you, giving attention to the task at hand, will help calm your swirling thoughts and reduce any anxiety you may be feeling about all this stuff we simply cannot control.
by Jennifer Seal
October 1, 2020