How do you take in the world around you? We have two main modes of making sense of what is happening around us, our senses and our thoughts. These are often used together, so it can be difficult to separate the two, yet there is value in understanding the habitual ways you interface with life and which of these two modes is influencing your experience.
Take your senses, they give you a lot of rich information. As an example, when you first arrive at work you may be able to hear others arriving, saying “hello” to each other or the sounds of people putting their bags down, taking off jackets (zippp). You may be able to smell someone’s coffee. Maybe someone grabbed a fresh cinnamon bun on their way into work (ummmmm the smell of warm pastry with the unmistakable hit of spice). These are all things you take in with your senses and it can be relaxing to sink into a sensory mode, enjoying the tableau this has to offer. No thought or thinking, a present and natural way to take in the living “art” around you at work.
And then your phone rings, breaking you out of the “moment” and into thinking. You wonder “Who is calling? Is it urgent?” The lingering smell of cinnamon reminds you that you are getting hungry. You consider getting something to eat and then remember you have a meeting in 10 minutes so there is no time …oh and you had better go over that information you were sent yesterday prior to heading into the meeting. You wonder if your colleague is in yet, because you have a few questions for her and want to squeeze that in before you go (it’s the only time you’ll catch her today).
Feel the difference? Of course, we cannot stay in the sensory world all the time, especially at work. Yet it is this world we lose touch with so quickly in our lives. Seasons change and you barely notice the show nature is putting on outside. Lists, “to do’s”, things need to be planned and done, and considered and discussed…we are each accountable for a lot in our lives; work, family, home. So, which of these modes gets priority in your life? How would it benefit your work and career to be more in the moment for yourself and others?
I have a friend who is wonderful at weaving these two modes together. When you see him, he’ll get you excited about the food he can smell being prepared in the cafeteria, begin a guessing game to see what favourite they are making for lunch. He does this in a genuine and authentic way that I now see is his way of inviting his sensory experiences deeper into his life. Working with him is a breath of fresh air. None of this gets in the way of professional connection, or the work we share. It is all wrapped up in a beautiful example of someone who is able to balance these two modes …and it just feels good.
What does more balance between sensory and thinking modes have to offer your well-being at work? Take a moment. Take a few moments and see if there are opportunities for you to invite more of the richness your senses have to offer you into your day – you may be surprised by the impact the sensory mode has on your productivity and well-being.
“We don’t distinguish sensory objects from the things we think about, and this obscures our experience of the richness and natural beauty of the sensory world. – Andy Karr