Standing in my living room, I am completely confounded. I forgot the reason I came into this room. I’m certain it isn’t to watch the dog hair dance with the dust in the sunbeam coming in from the window, but that's what I am doing in this moment, fascinated.
My mental chatter kicks in; three voices all at once. The first is a voice that chastises the condition of my housekeeping ("Just look at all the dog hair!"). Another voice is urging me to remember what I came for ("You're on a deadline, get a move on!"). A third voice marvels at how things, like dog hair and dust, can stay afloat… wondering if there's an air current in the room that holds them aloft… I'm as curious as Calvin from the 80's cartoon strip Calvin & Hobbes ("What happens if I let my mind wander...")
Voice three wins, I pull out my phone to “Google” how dust can travel upwards against gravity. Surprise; my inkling was correct, it’s a warm air current from the floor vent. And then I remember what I came for, and my day continues. Except that because voice three won out, I am a little happier and satisfied. I have a smile on my lips.
Voice three doesn’t always win out, usually it is the loudest voice that gets my attention, cutting through the fugue of competing demands on my time. However, I recognize that constantly scolding myself (and internal mental scolding still counts as scolding) is not a great way to live. Sometimes you just have to rebel…against yourself.
Sometimes you have to take the moment. Even when that moment is not productive or “Instagram-able” (like seeing dust and dog hair), it still has immense value. This brief moment of wonder gives me a feeling of well-being.
Behavioural science backs this up. Allowing your mind to wander is an active brain state that allows you to access illusive insights and make important connections in your work that you might otherwise have missed on the "super highway" of "getting things done".
It has other benefits as well. Later today, it will give me something to talk about at dinner with my family (other than work). I am especially excited to share what I learned with my son, who is also curious and learning about air currents in science. Later this week it will motivate me to dust and to brush the dog (probably not in that order). Most of all, it breaks the rigidity of a demanding day with a moment of inquisitiveness (breaking the hold of hyper-focus, which isn't especially helpful).
Switching pace and focus, even just for a few moments, has so many benefits. Clearly my body was signalling to me that I needed a break. Short-term memory loss (like forgetting why you walked into a room) is often a sign we need to give ourselves a moment to let our brains catch up to where we are. We are not living to work; we are working so we can truly live. Being deeply curious about the world around us is a part of that living.
I am grateful for my ability to stop and enjoy this simple moment. What simple moments are you experiencing today?
VALUED AT $295 IT’S ON SALE FOR JUST $35 (because a recession shouldn’t get in the way of creating a work life you can love).