Did you know that the average person makes 30,000-45,000 decisions a DAY! A staggering number. Many “decisions” are part of everyday habits such as teeth brushing and seemingly may not require much thought. Also, simple, almost mindless tasks can actually take multiple decisions. For instance, to read this blog you had to decide when to get on the computer, to ignore the ad that popped on the screen, to link to this site and to look specifically at this blog.
The Western lifestyle and technology have brought many of these changes. In 1875 if you wanted a pair of jeans Levi Strauss & Co. was it. Now there are colors, styles, sizes, fashion and designers to select from.
Some decisions are in the background of our daily lives. A noise in the house, based on past experience will be “interpreted”. Without thinking too hard, your brain decides if the noise is burglar (call 911), or the cat riding the robotic vacuum…again (go back to sleep). How amazing our brains make sense of the world to assist our interactions with it.
Unfortunately though, coping with excessive decision-making can result in fatigue. Studies have shown that the brain needs to have time to rest. One way is quality sleep, covered in an earlier blog. Some people find meditation or prayer to be helpful. But for some individuals, quiet time is stressed time. Those moments of quiet forced focusing devolve into lists of undone and forgotten tasks, or past transgressions screaming for attention. The next option? Try doing nothing for a few minutes a day.
This is also known as practicing Mindfulness rather than Mind Fullness. For example, recently I heard an unidentified noise. The brain tried to define it as a car, a vacuum, another mechanical device as these are the sounds I hear the most. What was it? Wind in a pine tree. What had happened, that I was so disconnected from the world that I could no longer recognize wind?!?! I stopped my day for 30 sec and took that time to reacquaint myself with the sound of wind. The feeling and temperature of the breeze. It was a peaceful moment that has come back to me several times since renewing that moment of calm I felt.
It isn’t hard or time consuming. You simply stop what you are doing for a few seconds to minutes and use your senses to listen, see, taste, smell or feel what is around you. And the best part, there is no right or wrong way to do nothing. You can even be doing something and do nothing. It is just a practice about being mindful. About being present in the moment.
On vacation with 100 sights to see? Take a minute, stop, look out the window at the view. No view? Look at the sky, at the stars.
What does silence sound like during different times of the day? Hint silence usually isn’t silent. Unidentified noise? Focus on it a minute and track it down. Following that advice lead to the discovery of a pileated woodpecker.
At the beach look at your feet in the water. Is the water cold or warm? Is the sand shifting or still? Can you taste the salt?
At night are the sheets rough, warm, heavy, or fragrant?
Get up 5 minutes early and have your coffee outside at sunrise or at least at home rather than traveling in the car. How is it? Too warm, too cold, too sweet? Just right?
Stop and taste your food. If you are going to eat something unhealthy at least you owe it to yourself to stop long enough to enjoy it.
You get the point. Just try taking a couple of minutes a day and think about how that moment tastes, looks, feels, smells or sounds. You may just find that a piece of mindfulness brings a bit of peacefulness to your day.