“What you thinking about? As little as possible. You? …”

Night Sky

David Kanigan (one of my Daily Must Reads) considered this question recently … apparently while not being able to sleep – read about it here:  “Hello, Rumination, Hello Insomnia

Of course, his thoughts are not about not being able to see, but about being alone with our thoughts … as we are sometimes when we cannot attain the restorative oblivion of sleep.

David discusses a fascinating recent article by Kate Murphy in the New York Times entitled No Time To Think. Apparently some evidence exists that we are not comfortable with our own thoughts and so seek distractions and time-fillers.  We even prefer pain to thinking, as the article indicates by reporting a experiment where people voluntarily shocked themselves when asked to reflect. 

I am generalizing about the results, of course, but they still appear to indicate that many of us just do not feel comfortable being alone with our thoughts.

As an aside, the numbers cited indicate this is much more of a “Guy Thing”, with 64% of men versus 15% of women giving themselves a jolt …

TextingThis idea of being uncomfortable with our own thoughts might neatly explain the ubiquitous presence within our populace of individuals focused intently on small glowing screens in almost every situation imaginable.

Our smartphones and tablets can provide a literal universe of information, stimulation, and distraction … neatly filling in our time and attention, while allowing us the ability to opt out of any real engagement with what is on the screen or in  our heads.

As a counselor and now as a coach, I have been consistently and powerfully reminded of the “power of presence”.   When you pay attention and give another the gift of your undivided and focused attention, you have easily set yourself aside from the pack.

When you look at and listen to another, you gain a strategic advantage … it’s good business, good manners, and a solid reinforcement that you are present in the moment with them.  

You are also more likely to receive the same focused attention in return … a win-win for all.

So try it out …

1)  Consciously put down the devices when you are in the presence of another.

2)  Look at the person (which is one of the most powerful human actions we can take).

3)  Listen to what they say.

4)  Reflect on their words and the meaning behind them.

5)  Respond honestly.

6)  Repeat

Keep in mind that you are both changing habits which have been hard-wired into our modern brains, so engage in another somewhat out-of-date activity called “being patient”.  This process may take a while, since you are getting used to having what the ancients called “a conversation” … but it’s worth it. 

Feeling a little snippy, but enjoying the moment in the Heartland ….





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