I sat working at the coffee shop and watched a father and two boys who I assumed were his sons walk in. They sat together at a table, the father hunched over his phone, not looking up. The two young boys had a phone between them and were playing a game on it. Neither the boys nor the father acknowledged each other. The manager came over to greet them. The child holding the phone didn’t even look up. They were there for about 15 or 20 minutes, collecting takeaways and then they left. In all that time they didn’t interact.
Most of us are guilty of this to some extent.
If we keep in mind the things that are important to us, we will put our phones down, close our laptops early and switch off the tv.
What 3 things are most important to you?
When you identify what they are remember them when living your day to day life. There’s a good chance it will feel satisfying and connecting.
Last week I was shopping at Woolies Norwood. I walked past the fridges at the back of the store and I heard some people softly singing a beautiful song that I really love. I thought that maybe I would be lucky and stood there for a few seconds more….. I was.
Out of the back came 10 to 15 staff members with wonderful voices singing Asimbonanga**, I assume in preparation for Madiba’s birthday. I decided to follow them around and I chose not to video them but instead to just be in the moment and enjoy the singing.
I was astounded to notice though that other shoppers just gave a cursory glance at them and continued on their shopping. When the staff continued singing at the entrance of the shop, me and two other women were watching them and thoroughly enjoying their performance. Three people!
I was taken aback at people’s complacency to having free, beautiful, live entertainment while doing a mundane task such as shopping. Why weren’t other people stopping to watch and listen? People didn’t even smile at them or clap when they finished (except me and two other ladies). Why was shopping more important than a one or two minute stop to appreciate other people’s efforts? Look, at least it gave me something to write about.
We do shopping every week, sometimes even more often. Here was something out of the ordinary and people didn’t deem it worthy to pause and just breathe and enjoy.
Stop. You’ve got to enjoy the little things. One day you are not going to wish you had spent more time shopping, you are going to wish you had stopped to listen to the staff choir or to look up at the sky and the clouds or to smile at a stranger and watch them smile back.
These are the moments of joy.
** This link is the Soweto Choir singing this song 3 years ago at Woolies I added it just so that you could hear the song.
The word “busy” has powerful connotations. When we keep saying we are busy it means we have no space left for anything or anyone else.
We fill our lives with so many activities and there’s no time to just chill.
There are things we want to be doing but we are just too busy. Usually those things are the most meaningful ones. Like going to see a play, getting some fresh air at the botanical gardens, doing a good deed, taking the family on a really nice outing or having a long relaxing bath.
When we leave out the things which mean something to us It’s because we haven’t really thought too deeply about it and therefore don’t have proper direction. When we have direction and intention and know why things are important to us we make place for them in our lives. Filling our time up with rushing leaves a certain emptiness or frustration within us at the end of the day.*
It’s the same for our children. I hear some of my children’s friends say that they don’t have time for social arrangements because they are too busy. How can a child be so busy that they don’t have time to play? If that’s what is happening to the children then certainly for us as adults it must be worse. These children are also perpetuating a “busy” value system into their lives and when they are adults they will do the same thing and won’t have time for what is important to them.
The consequence is burnout, depression or physical ailments.
What really fulfills us is meaning, fun, laughter, love, giving, sharing, connection. We won’t find those things in filling up our days to the brim. Look at your schedule and see if you can take something out. Leave time to lie on the grass and look at the birds flitting around in the trees. The other day I had the amazing opportunity of seeing a bird of prey on my roof (I think it was a kite – click here to see what a kite is). If I had been on my phone or rushing around doing lots and lots of stuff I would have missed it.
Yes of course there is a lot to do but try and take out something and put yourself and the things which mean something to you into your calendar. If necessary physically write them into your diary and make them as important as any appointment would be.
The first step to healing is acknowledging that there’s something wrong. Before that happens there is basically no way you can heal. If you keep insisting that you are “fine” when you are not then how does the healing process start?
It is okay to not be okay. You don’t have to shout it from the rooftops, you can just admit it to yourself. Once you do that then you can get assistance or guidance.
We think we have to be okay or look okay or seem okay all or most of the time. What is that about?
Perhaps we are trying to protect ourselves from something. We think people will think we are weak, useless, helpless, selfish, imperfect. Those are some of the thoughts that we may be harbouring. Most of those thoughts are untrue (coaching sessions help with clarification on this).
Nobody is okay all of the time – this means you are not alone. Many people go through what you are going through. Sometimes just talking it out is healing in itself.
Don’t hold on to your strong perfect bravado. Cry a little. Be vulnerable. This is how we start to heal.
People spend a lot of time worrying about things that they can’t control. They also perceive things in a way that often makes their lives harder (as in the above cartoon). Both Charlie Brown and Snoopy are telling the truth but which one of them lives a happier life?
I’m not saying that stress doesn’t exist (far from it) or that if we deny our difficulties our lives will be better….. no, what I’m suggesting is that we acknowledge our problems, feel the feelings, if necessary cry, journal, punch a pillow (or whatever safely works best) and then either find some sort of solution or look for the positive or blessings in the situation and focus on those.
There are always positives in a situation even though it may not seem like it at the time. If you can’t find any, ask a friend, family member or coach that you trust to point them out to you.
What you think about is where you are. Choose where you want to be and be there. It requires you to change your thinking though which may take time. Be gentle on yourself.
You’ve got this
p.s. I also send this blog out weekly by email which includes a quick health tip and some good news (as opposed to bad news). If you would like to subscribe please email email@example.com
Yesterday I was sitting eating a bowl of fruit for breakfast.
The first bite of the pear was lovely. I tasted that real pear flavour and felt the grainy pear texture. After that bite I was staring into space thinking about everything that I could think of, things that I had to be doing, things that I had to say to people and it was filling my mind.
Before I knew it, the pear was finished and I hadn’t even noticed eating it which was quite disappointing because it was really a beautiful pear!
I sliced into my cling peach next. I noticed the colour – at least two different shades of orange. At that moment I decided to eat the peach consciously.
So I stopped thinking about everything that has to be done and I ate my peach with concentration. It was sweet and juicy, delicious, the colours so bright. I was suddenly struck by the miracle of it. This peach is amazing! It has been plucked off a tree!
I marveled at how the world and everything in it has been created with such beauty and functionality. Wow.
All that for a peach that I took the time to notice. I encourage you to try this sometimes and don’t stop at fruit, take notice of people too.