We Daily Choose Less Happiness. Here's How.

I usually talk on the phone with my mom about once a week.

This week I noticed something different. As I talked with my mom Tuesday, I didn’t hear the usual rustle of papers, clanging of dishes, or typing on the keyboard coming from the other end. It may sound strange, but this is unusual for my family. We are notorious multitaskers - because productivity is one way we measure success.

But this time, my mom told me that she was trying to live more in the moment. She wanted to slow down and stop trying to get everything done at once. She told me she stopped everything else she was doing to talk to me, and when she needed to get ready for work she would let me go. She doesn’t have 4 young kids to feed, drive around and clean up after, so she was going to enjoy trying to do one thing at a time.

I admired this choice as we caught up this week. And I thought about it long after our call. It sounded so refreshing, and a little uncomfortable to put into practice. I mean - how often am I doing tasks, watching TV while surfing the web, anything to avoid the simplicity and silence of the present moment.

It also reminded me about a talk I had heard a few years back.

Have you heard the Ted Talk from Matt Killingsworth? It is entitled, “What to Be Happy? Stay in the Moment.”

Through his research, he discovered that when our minds are wandering - no matter what we are thinking about - we are considerably less happy.

When our minds wander brushing our teeth, at work and yes - even when we are stuck in traffic, our happiness is in jeopardy. Distractions, no matter their form, keep us from practicing presence.

This is unfortunately more normal in our lives than we would probably like to realize. Matt Killingsworth found that our minds are wandering about 47% of the time. That is almost half of our time spent thinking about something other than the one thing we are doing right now.

Almost half of the time we are doing something that evidence tells us makes us significantly less happy.

How often do you find yourself focusing on something other than the present moment? Do you escape to a '“happier” place? Or does your mind wander without you even noticing?

Maybe the harder question (for me) to answer: is the present moment sometimes too painful or real to be present in?

Consider this question for yourself: what keeps your mind from being fully present? Take a few moments over the next week to dwell on what the present moment looks like for you. As we seek to embrace our lives, one belief I have is that to do it well, we must be engaged. To engage is to be present mentally. As it turns out, evidence tells us this is a positive plan.

It will probably be uncomfortable at first, but I think my mom has the right idea.

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