New Normal, Have you Noticed?
How are you feeling these days? Already used to your 24/7 office life, that comes with housekeeping, daycare, teaching, and managing practically everything else you could think of while being at home?
Not to mention at the same time 6 million coaches are popping up on Linked In with their sponsored mail, claiming to have the perfect solution, offering yet another workshop to create an amazing work-life balance. While that might be true, change doesn’t just happen overnight. There is no one-day wonder workshop. Ironically, committing to a program that will genuinely make a difference to cope with the ‘New Normal’, takes time and effort, that I’m guessing you don’t have enough of.
Does this mean that there is nothing you can do when time is scarce, yet of the essence? Nope! You can still do a little that will make all the difference. Let’s first have a look at Mindfulness, a popular technique companies love to implement for their team.
In short, mindfulness revolves around bringing one’s full attention to the present moment without judging the occurring thoughts and emotions.
Lately, mindfulness has come under a lot of criticism. Instead of a calm mind, for some, this technique causes more confusion resulting in a distant feel from their own humanity.
I first noticed this, giving a workshop in a corporate environment where I was appointed to help employees be more present and less distracted at work.
I started wondering if I should have done anything differently with the program that I specially tailored to their needs. However for some, it clearly seemed to work well, but for others, it didn’t.
When I looked more into it, I came across several pieces of research discussing the negative aspects of mindfulness, such as disorientation, stultification, creativity loss, but also self-sabotaging side effects as false memories, mania, and in some cases even narcissism. These disadvantages had one phenomenon in common: feeling disconnected.
And if there was ever a time that we can not afford to feel disconnected for too long, that time is now. I didn’t want to pile on more disconnection, so I got curious about what I could do.
I learned that before me, some coaches had tried to teach them to clear their minds, while others wanted them to focus on just one thing, all to ultimately detach from what was going on around them and be more ‘in the moment’. But let’s be honest, ‘the moment’ sucks right now. A lot of mixed messages to those who were unfamiliar with spiritual practices.
But here’s what I think. When we want to be fully present and in the moment, why not start with noticing people instead of focussing on objects and environments waiting to become one with them.
Especially today, this is more important than ever. Social interactions are challenged, so this is where our focus should be most to make and feel the real difference.
As a sociologist I know of many scientific pieces of research that prove these little moments, how insignificant they might seem, could add years to one’s life.
Would you like to feel better and more connected?
Start noticing the beauty of what is closest to your ‘being’, ‘People’. Notice People.
Notice the colleague holding the elevator, the baker’s smile when he hands over the bread, the bus driver waiting for the kid trying to catch it, the gentleman escorting an old lady crossing the street. In other words, notice the love in people.
Of course, there is always this very smart person who asks me “But what if they don’t smile?” Then you go and be the one who smiles first! Help the old lady cross, or seize whatever opportunity comes to act out of kindness.
And for whom an act of kindness is a bridge too far…try being nice, just nice. Gradually these acts of niceness will shift into kindness, compassion, and gratitude(yes without keeping a gratitude journal or sitting in a lotus position).
Stop beating yourself up about being distracted, not being able to sit still and see the bigger picture. Every great painting started with the first stroke of paint. Start your bigger picture with a smile, a joke a dance, a song. Mindfulness doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be passive or for lack of a better word, boring. Just because it’s good for you, doesn’t mean it has to be unenjoyable.
On a final note, I challenge you. Keep this simple technique up for 30 days, and I promise you, lots of aspects in your life will change, start to make sense, and fall in their place. Which, let’s be honest, is the ultimate goal of Mindfulness.