I consider myself a complex, communicative and passionate person that seeks to live and experience life to the fullest. I am also a bit of a multitasking addict. I tweet through exciting experiences. I write blog posts while enjoying family movie night. I fold laundry while putting my kids to bed. And shamefully I browse my phone’s calendar or personal emails while driving (even if it is at stop signs and red lights). But, while reading Rebbecca Shafir’s Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction, I realized I wasn’t plugged in to my own existence. I rarely looked my children in their eyes. I rarely focused on the conversations my husband was constantly trying to have with me, and I rarely remembered what I did the month before. When Shafir says:
Many of us can’t remember because most of the time we were in a fog of preoccupation with the past or planning the future. Our attention was scattered all over the place, and the quality of our actions was just good enough to get by. Substandard performance on any task results in low self-esteem and lack of fulfillment. (2000)
I read this and gasped, then quietly took in the reality of my current substandard existence. My focus on the future, on what is next, on the perpetual do-to list was robbing me of my past and my present. I’m in tears thinking about it. Truth be told, I have been on this mindless level of existence since about undergrad.
I stopped living in quiet moments of reflection and prayer. I don’t make time to read my bible and commune with my creator. And as of achieving this higher level of self awareness, I now stop and listen to my children when they talk in their toddler talk, I listen to my husband intently and inhale the smallest details of his narrative when he communicates, and I have started to tune out the distractions and try to perform tasks with genuine focus. I am fighting hourly against hard ingrained habits.
I not only began mindful listening, I discontinued mindless existing and multi-tasking my life away.