The amount of times that I say out loud how I wish I had two bodies or two pairs of hands is a bit obnoxious. I have become the queen of multitasking and can easily type with one hand on my laptop while scrolling through my Twitter feed on my phone, while talking to my friend.
While that skill is something I would have boasted about back in college, I now actually despise my tendency to do this and the fact that I do this far more frequently than I would like.
People are becoming more cognizant of this problem and how it can really create a non-genuine sense of social interaction. You'll hear of the phone pile people will make at a dinner table, to prevent guests from flicking through their Instagram feed mid-conversation, but I still think it's a recurring issue. Firstly, it's rude and not really nice to your friends who you're with, but there's a bigger underlying problem.
We're growing incapable of simply being present in the moment, and letting that be enough.
My best friend, who I lived with freshman year of college, used to chide me about how I could never sit through watching a movie with her without getting up to do something in between. I would actually get up, Swiffer the floor, straighten out my papers, and check my BBM messages (HA remember those days?). The question, is why? It's not like I was doing anything that was an immediate situation I needed to attend to. But it was hard to shake the feeling that sitting complacently through a movie was not a "productive" use of my time."
For Type-A people like myself, there's a sense of urgency and need to utilize every minute of time to the fullest- but this can be completely counterproductive. A divided attention span leads to more half-hearted moments. Social interactions become about moving through the motions rather than experiencing everything that is happening in that present moment. But here is the biggest lesson for me that wasn't hard to accept, but extremely hard to put into practice:
Not everything in life is about productivity or checking something off a list.
Yes, humans need things to motivate them, so end goals are extremely important to help guide us. But sometimes, you need to do things without a reason- do something because you simply wanted to. How many times during a more leisurely moment for yourself or if you were being lazy, have you said "I should be doing ___"? We are constantly berating ourselves for not doing something we "should" be attending to.
Have you noticed how when you're saying "I should," you end up actually procrastinating more? It's like hitting the snooze button- it's smarter to just set the time for when you will realistically will and need to get up, rather than earlier and turning into 20 minutes of hitting the snooze button.
So how does this tie back into being present?
By being present, we are more fulfilled by one moment so we can fully move onto the next and be present there too.
For example-- if you were to just nibble on snacks all day without having a full meal, you're constantly feeling hungry and in search of the next thing. But if you were to have a nourishing and satiating meal, you would feel more fulfilled and not racing off to find another snack, right?
I challenge you to be present:
Next time you sit down to have a cup of coffee by yourself, don't whip out your phone. Breathe in that dizzyingly wonderful aroma and sip slow.
Next time you have lunch with a friend, resist the urge to take out your phones or look around like a distracted goldfish. Pay attention to the company you're with, make eye contact, and really listen to what they are saying, rather than trying to speak first.
Next time you are walking somewhere, slow down there, racehorse, and take out your headphones, pull your eyes up from the floor and look at the world around you.
Next time you are exercising, don't just grit your teeth and close your eyes to get through it. Feel your body move, and how good it feels to use it. Be thankful for the gift.
Next time you go somewhere new, don't immediately whip out your phone to take a picture. Soak it all up first, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the feels. Then later on your way out, you can snap a picture to remind you of the experience.