The meaning of mindfulness: how to bring down the 47%

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47% is the average portion of our daytime (sleep excluded) where we are mind-wandering. It means that, for almost half of our awake time, we are not paying full attention on what we are doing. We are distracted. In some way, we are missing out. The so-called “auto-pilot“.

Being fully attentive is not always needed, of course. There are things that we do daily, which don’t really need our full attention. Like brushing our teeth, walking, eating. On the other side, there are things where our full attention has a crucial importance, and distraction can cost a lot. Like driving, or using a knife while cooking. Besides that, there are moment in our life, especially in our working hours, when we feel forced to pay partial attention to what we are doing, maybe because we are doing many things in parallel. Like replying to a mail while we are in a meeting, and all the things we do because of the “multitasking” nature of our job.

Sometimes we feel that, doing more things at the same time, we are more productive. Like we are reaching a compromise: we do things with partial attention, in order to achieve the goal of doing many things in parallel. The sensation is that, even though partial attention can lead to mistakes (that’s the risk of the compromise), this can save us time. Technically speaking, we are doing 2 things instead of 1. Our productivity is doubled, isn’t it?

Sometimes, it can be ok to do this. But doing this, you are giving up something: your wellness. You can decide to follow your instinct and reply to the mail just sent by your customer in that exact moment, even if in the meanwhile you are supposed to pay attention to the presentation your boss is showing. But if you keep doing this for the whole working time, or even out of work, in the end of the day you will feel stressed, overwhelmed, out of control. That’s the cost you are paying for deciding to do things without your full attention. It’s way more than just risking a mistake in the mail you are writing. It’s about the sustainability of your life approach. It’s about your ability to feel good in your life.

The easiest way to feel good, to generate your wellness, is mindfulness. Mindfulness means “being present“. Feel the moment. Paying your full attention on what you are doing, practicing the ability to recognize distractions (which are totally natural) and bring your attention back to your target. It’s the ability to bring down the 47%. To 40%, 30%, or even less. The positive effects of this practice are many: it trains your self-control, it increases your confidence, it improves your ability to manage situations, it teaches you to give to everything the respect it deserves. And on top of all that, it makes you feel better.

Mindfulness is something that you can learn easily. As a start, it can be enough to read a couple of books, like Chade-Meng Tan’s Search Inside Yourself or Laurie Cameron’s Everyday Mindfulness. Then you need to practice and master the tools. Which are usually easy to put in place singularly, but very hard to use in the cases of daily life when we feel triggered, exhausted or under pressure. The good thing is that, with some practice, you will learn to have full control of yourself, with a lot of advantages in terms of presence, attention, self-confidence and, ultimately, wellness.

And, if this is really what you were worried about, the side effect of all this is -guess what?- that you’ll be more focused, effective and productive. Which was your original goal when you were doing many things in parallel, forcing yourself in a stressful and unsustainable practice. But, even more important, being present will let you live life in a full manner, enjoying every moment, managing complicated situations in full control and increasing the quality of your time.

“There is an infinite number of moments between now and the moment you’ll die. The more you miss, the faster the trip.”

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