There is no denying that we are living in a world we are constantly “on”. We have so much to do – the disease of busyness is infiltrating our lives – and the constant sources of distraction (think social media or the internet in general) are easy ways for us to to stay connected to the world but perhaps actually disconnected from each other. Have you been to a cafe recently and seen a table of friends, all heads down scanning their phones? It has become more important to share your coffee on instagram than it has to actually enjoy the coffee and talk to the people in front of you – your friends (in real flesh and blood as opposed to the “friends” you have on social media.)
The culture of more to do in less time see’s us become masters of multi tasking and trying to squeeze as much as we can out of every single moment. When we squeeze, it often means we jam more in. Our minds are no different and the busyness in our lives translates to busyness in our mind. More distraction, more busyness can and does lead to less focus and less attention. How we interact with each other is becoming more and more affected by our busy distracted wold. Our daily dialogue, our workplace discussions and our conversations – our ways of connecting to each other – happen from this place of busy and distracted. Ever had a conversation on the phone whilst scanning Facebook at the same time? Perhaps your loved one is telling you about their day while you cook dinner (I am guilty of that one) or maybe when your colleague is going on about the missed deadline – again – you start to plan out your shopping list. The distractions may not be as blatant as that, it could be as simple as listening to fix, to solve, to look funny or smart or even just to contribute. Very rarely are we truly listening for the sake of allowing someone to be heard.
Next time you have a conversation with someone, notice what your mind is doing. Notice if it is distracted or focused, notice if the need to say something arises and notice how your attention moves from the person speaking to your own internal dialogue. Try a different approach and simply be present with someone, listen for the sake of hearing and give your complete attention to them. Imagine the connections we would have if we mindfully listened to each other. We might actually hear something different.