Yesterday I wrote about the concept of understanding the idea of ‘How Do You Want To Be?’ I was reflecting on that post [1] and writing journal notes last night. The following extract from my journal partly answers the question, “Where have you been getting distracted in life?”

“I also feel distracted by the weight of what I feel I have to do. Rationally, I know, if I just got on with it I would have less to do. But, on reflection, after today’s blog, I don’t want to be constantly ‘doing’. So, how then, does one ‘do’ (because stuff needs (?) to get done), while still having a sense of ‘being’ at the same time?”

As I wrote, it occurred to me I wasn’t paying attention to what and how I was writing. I felt like I was in a hurry. I then slowed down to pay attention to what and how I was writing.

I’m using the words ‘how and what’ very deliberately.

In paying attention, the ‘how’ became very important and very enjoyable. Suddenly, I became conscious of the pen gliding across the paper and the ink settling on the page. The act of writing itself became enjoyable and purposeful, and all other distractions around fell away.

I felt in flow.

As I said yesterday, we are human beings, not human doings. If we get in a state of doing all the time, we forget to be, and life passes us by. Things still have to be done, however, so how do we balance between the two?

We look for the joy, the learning and the experience of what we are doing. If the task is potentially unpleasant or burdensome, there will be something to focus on and be present in the moment, thus experiencing life.

If we find someone difficult to deal with, focus on them and try and understand their point of view.

If we are doing a repetitive and tedious task, make a game of it.

If we are dealing with something complex, get curious and try and learn something from it.

Let me hand over to one of the masters of mindfulness who can say it better than me …

“If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future -and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.”

― Thích Nhất Hạnh, The Miracle of Mindfulness

[1] Thank you to everyone who emailed yesterday about the post. It seems to have resonated for many readers. Please share it with others and encourage them to subscribe.