Pay Attention and Enjoy Your Life as it Happens

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” ~Mother Teresa



In this week’s installment of 30 30-Day Challenges You Can Start Now to Motivate Your Work and Life, inspired by Marc and Angel, our challenge to you is to pay attention and enjoy your life as it happens!

You see it all the time, people driving and talking on the phone or texting and walking down the street. We’ve probably all been guilty of daydreaming while we’re supposed to be working. Most of us are almost constantly thinking about what we are going to do next instead of focusing on the thing we are doing at that moment. We think: Once I get this task done or this event over with, I will do [fill in the blank]. But if we’re constantly looking ahead to the next moment, instead of focusing on the present, how much of our lives are we not truly living?

“The key is to concentrate on a little less doing and a little more on being. Remember, right now is the only moment guaranteed to you.” (Marc and Angel)

If it seems a little too touchy-feely for you, think about it terms of your work and productivity. Studies have shown that multitasking isn’t all that productive or good for us. And, it turns out that most of us aren’t that good at it. “Dividing attention across multiple activities is taxing on the brain, and can often come at the expense of real productivity,” according to a recent article in Live Science. In fact, the experts they interviewed argue that only around 10% of the population can actually multitask. Chances are, you’re not one of them.

Instead of thinking of those emails as something you to get through, focus on each one, the person who you are writing to, the feeling of your fingers on the keyboard or your smartphone. Chances are, you’ll find it to be a much more enjoyable task. Being present in each moment of our lives can often increase productivity and will probably bring you more enjoyment in your work and life.

Here is a great passage from Thích Nhất Hạnh’s The Miracle of Mindfulness that illustrates how even something as seemingly mundane as washing the dishes is still an important moment of life:

While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes.

At first glance, that might seem a little silly: why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing these bowls is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.

. . . There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes. . . .

If while washing the dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes.

In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future – and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.

Your life is happening right now – even as you read this blog post. So, make the most of it!

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