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Recently, one of my friends from school shared a link to a memory test on Facebook.
He mentioned how he was swayed to take the test because he was worried about his forgetfulness. What I found interesting was how that status generated quite a few comments from his friends.
The comments ranged from people congratulating him on his results to others sharing just how forgetful they are too. Some of them were quite endearing!
A story that caught my attention was how this lady and her family has a habit of walking back into the house at least three times before they head out. They make these trips back inside to make sure they haven’t forgotten anything.
Just imagine how stressful this kind of habit can be. Forgetting is a natural part of life. When you become absentminded, though, it can be really disruptive to your daily life. If you aren’t fully aware of your actions or what you’re doing, it’s like trying to clean a room in the dark.
Absentmindedness can not only stamp out your awareness, but also your focus, productivity, and happiness.
This is why mindfulness regards absentmindedness as its polar opposite. Being absentminded means you aren’t mindful of your surroundings, what you are doing, and what you are trying to achieve.
So, how can you use mindfulness to distance yourself from absentmindedness?
Absentmindedness is not just about forgetting—it’s also distracting
How many times have you caught yourself lost in thought?
We spend a lot of our time lost in thought about our past or future. If not this, then we often find ourselves attending to different tasks at the same time. Whatever it is, many of us are absentminded about the things we do.
According to a study from Harvard University, “A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”
This study revealed that a wandering mind is an excellent predictor of people’s happiness. As Michael shares in his book, ‘The Mindful Leader’, the antidote to absentmindedness is presence.
More on that below.
Presence is about cultivating your ability to live in the now
Mindfulness can give you a clearer view of the world.
When you focus on the present, you see reality as it is, not as you want or don’t want it to be.
You learn to be present to what is in front of you, right now, at this very moment because right now is real. Everything else is either a memory or an imagined future.
The reality, as Michael explains, is always now. Mindfulness, therefore, means to live in and be fully present in the now. When you are focussed on the present, you feel calm, clear, open-minded, engaged, and productive.
Every time you feel overwhelmed, try and remind yourself to focus on what’s in front of you.
Presence is the gift of choice
Something else I’ve learned from Michael is that “now” is the end goal we all seek, as well as the only road to achieving it.
If we make presence our destination, we can only achieve it by being present. That is the only way you can make choices and not be driven by habit.
The experience of being present allows you to observe and experience emotions without being controlled by them. When you learn to be present, you’ll be surprised by your previous thought patterns and behaviours.
The practice of focussing on the present will allow you to see the goodness and beauty in yourself that you may have buried under self-criticism.
Sometimes, your revelations may be painful. Still, wouldn’t it be better to learn a painful truth than keep living a lie?
Focus on the present and enhance your mental and emotional wellbeing
Being present for the sake of being present won’t work. You need to train yourself to remain present to end the stress that stems from absentmindedness. This will help you engage with your life more meaningfully and deeply!
Reach out to Awakened Mind and find out how our mindfulness resources support adult development. Take control of your absentmindedness and learn to be truly present.