We are all guilty of multitasking and pretending to be busy. In the era of social media where notifications constantly beep for our attention, it is fair to say a lot of us are distracted. The other day, I went for a walk. It was beautiful and sunny outside, and still I caught myself browsing through Instagram. I put the phone away and realized that multitasking and looking busy was actually taking away from what really matters: the enjoyment in the present moment.
Our Culture of Busyness
I credit my awareness to the “culture of busyness” to my yoga practice. The irony is that I originally started yoga to fill time- in other words, to stay busy. However, as my yoga practice progressed, it equipped me with the tools to slow down, deepen the breath, and try to focus on the present moment. At least sometimes.
Like many people, I find my social media and subsequently my phone pretty addictive. There is evidence that humans have the same attention span as a goldfish. Yes, a goldfish. What does this mean? People surveyed reported having an attention span is a mere 8 seconds, largely attributed to our attention being divided amongst multiple medias. This isn’t really an insult goldfish, but an example of how human attention is shifting due to smartphones. While are attention spans becoming shorter, we are able to multitask better- again, presumably because we have a wealth of information and entertainment at our fingertips. But is this a good or bad thing?
Depending on how you look at it, this ability to do many things at once but constantly be looking for the next thing is good, bad, or neither. For example, you may be able be more productive than offer, but you may not actually be enjoying the process of producing because your attention is pulled in too many directions. Or you may be looking ahead to see what the next project is. This can produce what psychologists call a the hedonic treadmill, a never ending race to find pleasure and joy that just keeps going and going, consistently leaving us unsatisfied. How do you burst the busy bubble and step of the hedonic treadmill? Use your yoga! Deepen your breath, close your eyes, and focus on the present moment, Try to tame the wandering monkey mind heading straight for the hedonic treadmill.
Yoga Helps Bursts the Busy Bubble
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, verse 1.2 states that “Yoga is the ability to calm/direct/restrain the fluctuations of the consciousness/mind”, in other words, get you to slow down and be in the present moment. A regular yoga practice can help you slow down and take control of manic thoughts. There is nothing wrong with being productive, but you should be able to put on the brakes when you need to!
Other steps you can take:
- Be mindful and show daily gratitude
- Take care of your mind and body so you stay healthy
- Stay away form people, places and activities that bring you down
- Appreciate and help others
If you need more inspiration to reduce busyness, check out this TED talk by Manoush Zomorodi.
Challenge the culture of busyness. Slow down. Embrace the present . You may be all the happier for it!