We don’t have a monopoly on multi-tasking in our busy lives, but somehow it’s not easy to imagine even modern people living in the pre-electricity era being as distracted each day as we are. We’re bombarded with noise. With requests for instant replies (texts! emails! voice mails!) And with the frantic sense that if we don’t figure out how to go even faster, we’re going to be hopelessly behind in everything that’s crucial to keep our lives from falling apart.
I used to pride myself on being a high level “multi-tasker”–I could do so many things seemingly all at once and keep those balls in the air while I juggled madly.
But there’s an interesting thing that happens when we are so darned busy. You know what it is: the pleasure of living seems to get gray and squirrelly around the edges, like it’s fading out of existence. Then of course we feel the urge to hurry up and relax with yoga, meditations, reading the latest self-help book or blog, and cruising YouTube for inspiration on how to slow down and yet still get it all done.
I remember one time years ago when I was working in the corporate cosmetics world, I was dashing from one meeting to the next, my mind totally focused on creating lists of what I needed to do and who I needed to call. It was my birthday that particular day, and someone passing me in the hallway said, “Hey, I hear it’s a big day for you–happy birthday!”
Without missing a beat, I said cheerily, “You too!”
It wasn’t until later that I realized what I’d done. I wasn’t savoring my life. I wasn’t living “in the moment” — I was constantly looking over my shoulder to review the past (whether nearby past or far off past) and see what I coulda, woulda, shoulda done differently and wonder what difference that would have made… or else leaping ahead of myself like a chirpy little frog, anticipating the next meeting, the next conversation and what I’d say and then what the other person would probably respond with, and then what I would say to their response and so on….
Tiring isn’t it? It’s no wonder we feel exhausted so much of the time. Here’s what I learned to do: savor the now. It turns out there’s no such thing as multi-tasking anyway–all we do is jump back and forth from one thing to another so rapidly it appears we are doing two or three things at the same time, and yet nothing gets our proper attention.
When we take a deep breath and simply enjoy who we are with, what we are doing, how we are feeling, life becomes a whole lot easier and far more joyful.
Try it and let me know how it goes.