A (really kinda dumb, yet profound) revelation
Last night, as I reflected on not the most productive day of my life, a thought popped into my head. It’s super simple — kind of embarrassing, really — but it struck me as a revelation. I decided to implement it last night as my wife and I watched a documentary before bed1. I’ll share it, even though, as I said, I’m a wee bit embarrassed about it. Here you go:
One thing at a time.
(I told you it was simple.)
We sat down to watch the documentary, and about five minutes in, I could feel my hand wandering over to my pocket. My cell phone was there, and I could tell within a fraction of a second, I was going to be looking at something on this second screen. “One thing at a time,” I told myself, and my hand moved away from my pocket. And I watched the documentary.
This morning, as I made breakfast, I was about to turn on a podcast. “One thing at a time,” I heard. Instead, I sat and enjoyed my morning meal. As I’ve done my work today, I’ve been using one thing at a time (unless multiple are called for, such as for research).
It’s super basic. It’s kinda dumb. And I think it’s also kind of groundbreaking. Well, for me anyway.
Thing is, it’s really at the heart of mindfulness. When we focus on one thing, we can be present to it. When we focus on one thing, we can harness our full attention. There’s a bunch of stuff out there about how multi-tasking is actually BS. We believe we can do it, but we actually can’t. We aren’t designed for that, no matter how much we seem to be able to. Indeed, we sell ourselves short by trying.
Now, I’m not foolish. I know that I can do one thing at a time and still not be present. I can let my mind take me to far away places. But I’m more likely to be able to work to tame my mind if I’m not also stretching it beyond its capacities, don’t you think?
As such, it’s my new mantra for the moment.
At least for now.
The documentary we watched was a new one to us. It’s called Hello, Privilege. It’s me, Chelsea. It’s a Netflix documentary about white privilege by Chelsea Handler. I might write about it in the next day or two.↩