You just got introduced to a new contact and after two minutes, you can’t remember his name. Your e-mail is overflowing, the fax is buzzing and your cell is beeping. You feel distracted, irritable and overwhelmed. You haven’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks and you’ve lived on junk food for a month. It’s time to STOP THE MADNESS!
When you make a new commitment, life always gives you the opportunity to test the commitment with your choices. For example, in my workshops I hear so many people say that they want to become more patient, have less stress or they want to eat healthier.
With the intention to become more patient, alleviate stress or to eat a healthy diet, life provides the opportunity and here is how the opportunity presents itself:
It’s lunchtime and you are famished. You didn’t bring your lunch so you’ll have to settle for fast food because you only have twenty minutes. Your dilemma has become more complex because you have three commitments: You need to eat healthy, you only have twenty minutes and you must remain patient so that you don’t stress yourself out.
In order to honor your commitment to a healthy diet, you decide on McDonalds for one of their new salads. As you approach the drive through and see cars lined up for a block, it is obvious that you won’t get the job done in twenty minutes so your best option is Subway two blocks away.
As you stand in line you realize that the people in front of you are your divine masters helping you to realize your goal of becoming more patient. The person in the front of the line can’t decide, and the person in front of you has an order for an office of fifty.
Life has honored your request to learn how to become more patient. Instead you lost your temper, left the restaurant in a rush and settled for a candy bar.
How do you stop the madness?
You stop the madness by becoming fully present. The greatest commitment that I have ever made was two years ago, and keeping that commitment has changed my life. I committed to becoming fully present.
The commitment to becoming fully present requires a certain set of beliefs, actions and behaviors, or eliminating a certain set of beliefs, actions and behaviors.
Becoming fully present required me to slow down. I made this commitment because being in a hurry, speaking too fast, interrupting and feeling disconnected was incongruent with my personal and professional philosophy.
What I disliked in other people was an opportunity to look in the mirror: People who seem distracted as they look for someone better to talk to, people who are only interested in their own agendas, worriers, energy drainers, string pullers, blabber mouths and know-it-all’s to name a few. Before you can change a behavior, you must change your core belief that contributes to the behavior.
For example you must change your beliefs about success or beliefs about your own level of importance. The authors of “The Power of Full Engagement” quote another author Wayne Muller, who says it best: “As Wayne Muller puts it in his lovely book Sabbath: “The busier we are the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others. To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find time for the sunset (or even to know the sun has set at all), to whiz through our obligations without time for a mindful breath, this has become the model of a successful life.”
Once you change your belief about success or about your own importance, then you are required to change your behavior.
For example, have you noticed when you fly for business how the minute the plane stops everyone rushes out of their seat and opens the overhead compartments as if they are competing to see who can get out quicker? If remain “conscious” instead of joining the bandwagon, you will notice that most of the time spent hurrying only results in standing in line for several minutes until they open the door.
I conducted an experiment one year while traveling. I consciously decided to be the last one off of the airplane and I timed it to see how much time I lost. It was amazing to discover that I only lost one minute and 20 seconds by remaining seated.
My new behavior now is to remain seated and spend the minute and a half in silence. This has allowed me to avoid the congestion and stress of elbowing my way out of a crowded plane while someone bangs me in the head with their overstuffed bag.
If you want to stop the madness, you must commit to becoming fully present. That commitment requires that you slow down.
Slow down on your eating. Slow down on your talking. Slow down when you listen to someone else. Wait on an airplane to be the last one off. Your food will taste better, your talking will be more articulate, you will appreciate what you are hearing, and you won’t get banged in the head by a piece of luggage! Life gets good when you decide to get out of the rat race.