Remember when you were a child and you couldn’t wait to be an adult? You couldn’t wait to eat whatever you wanted, to not have anyone tell you what to do, to be able to go to bed whenever you wanted. Then, when we grow up, we realize it’s not so simple, is it?
There is much to be said about how incredibly complex life is… navigating the subtleties of social interaction, deciding between the many options of what to prepare for daily meals, and juggling personal, day-to-day tasks while trying to also maintain self-care. Life sure can feel overwhelming at times! I myself have often fantasized about a simpler life: less responsibilities, less feeling pulled in one thousand directions, less on my to-do list. What if it were possible to have less to do?
To that end, take a moment to imagine how it would feel to be less spread so thin. Maybe ask yourself these questions, silently in your mind:
- What do I imagine it would feel like if I had less to do at one time?
- How effective do I imagine I would be if I could focus on a task without feeling simultaneously pulled away by something else?
- How do I think simply doing one thing at a time would affect my stress level?
What did you notice when pondering these questions? It feels almost impossible to believe that we can exist in a simpler way, but I assure you it can be done! In place of multitasking and rushing and distractibility, try the skill of one-mindedness. Being one-mindful is just as it sounds: allowing your full awareness to rest on one thing at a time. It is about engaging in one activity at a time without splitting your attention and can also include noticing when your thoughts wander off to past or future events and actively bringing your focus back to the task at hand in the present moment. For example, when you are pouring your morning cup of coffee, allow your attention to rest on the weight of the coffee pot in your hand, and the sound of the hot liquid filling your mug. Notice the familiar smell of the coffee and the heat of the mug as you clasp it in your hands. Let making and enjoying your morning brew be the only thing that fills your awareness, without mentally planning your day or tidying the kitchen at the same time.
Sounds simple? It is! Easy to do? Not so much at the start, but with practice, it can become more and more natural, sparking joy and delight in activities you may have otherwise absentmindedly completed. This skill takes practice and a willingness to be fully present and accounted for in each thing you do, and that means letting go of the belief that multitasking is a heroic or special skill. And while this strategy does not necessarily reduce the actual number of things on your to-do list, it has a similar effect in leading to increased clarity, patience, and calm. In fact, research [SG1] has proven that focusing on one thing at time actually increases effectiveness and efficiency.
So, while life will likely continue to offer many opportunities to choose from and require you to navigate the complexities of our busy world, allow the skill of one-mindedness to help you choose to be fully present in one place and space at a time. Give yourself and others the gift of your full attention and see what happens!