Archive | 11:59 PM

Happiness Project Update 24: Stopping the Autopilot

15 Apr

I thought that multitasking was a good thing. I’m a chick, we need to multitask. There’s only 24 hours in the day and we need at least 30 to get everything done. I know I do. But I realized that sometimes multitasking can suck the life out of you. Suck it!

No, it’s not the stress of  not finishing. No, not the anxiety that comes with failing to cross off items from your to-do list. No, it sucks the life out of you because sometimes you stay on autopilot and miss out on life. I found myself trying to pay bills online, wash the dishes, get distracted by to-do list thoughts, and have breakfast with my kids all at the same time. Then it sort of hit me while I was doing my 21-day Meditation Challenge last month.  I thought … what a jackass. If someone was doing all those things while I was trying to have a meal with them I’d be pretty burned out. I realized … multitasking kills my mindfulness.

I needed to start being in the now, being present. Now in my defense, when I’m out on adventures, exercising, or hanging out I am fully present. But sometimes I have technical difficulties, usually when I’m at home. Usually when multitasking arises. My mom ambition takes over and the mission to accomplish everything on the to-do list gets a kung-fu grip on me. It’s a mission and I need to finish it.

Image via happiness-project.com

Image via happiness-project.com

But that whole 21-Day Meditation Challenge really honed in my focus and my appreciation of “the moment,” it forced me to stay still, and it also reinforced what I read in Gretchen Rubin‘s mindfulness chapter.

Now I understand that I have to get things done and that life moves pretty quickly, especially if you’ve got two kids and you’re the CEO, CFO, Managing Partner and custodian of the household. Things sort of move at the speed of light sometimes and you’re doing whatever you can to catch up. So you go on autopilot, but I realized that sometimes autopilot draws out the jackass in me and I miss moments, stuff like breakfast with my kids. Now mind you sometimes breakfast may include syrup in someone’s hair, pancakes on the floor, spilled milk, battles for the last sip of the orange juice or toasting up bagels only to realize that there’s no cream cheese. Yes morning chaos may ensue, but sometimes you have a moment — the kind of moment that you remember at the end of the day — the kind that makes it to the what-am-I-grateful-for-today answer list. Mindfulness helps you remember that you’re probably going to have very few meals in the future where the kids won’t be multitasking, texting, and ignoring you as they are dashing out the door.

So what did I do when the universe sent me the mindfulness message twice?

Well … I paid attention. I shut down the autopilot and paid attention. I closed the computer, left the dishes alone and joined in at the Frosted Mini-Wheats and Silver Dollar Pancake extravaganza.

The most important was mindfulness — the cultivation of conscious, non-judgmental awareness … it gives clarity and vividness to present experience … Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project.

I realized that mindfulness can help boost your happiness levels a bit, and I could always use a shot of that. Being in the present definitely helps you enjoy daily life a bit more, especially when you have something out of the ordinary take place. You’re there to witness it, all of it. Now that doesn’t mean I would stop multitasking, but it did mean that I would stop the autopilot when hanging out with my kids. I’d be in the moment and forget about the to-do list until my kids were actually engaged in something else. Play-Doh and Legos usually rock their world, so I would save the multitasking until then.

So here’s to mindfulness … for taking the jackass out of me.

 

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