One Word Suggestion: Mindfulness

People have become so preoccupied with themselves and their phones they're not only becoming less mindful, they're becoming dangerously mindless.

Welcome to One Word Suggestion

Hosted by: Eran Thomson
This week's word is: Mindfulness

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Focus Episode
Editing Episode
Robin Sharma / The 5 am Club

Take a second and look up from whatever you’re doing right now. Is everyone around you staring down at their phones? Were you?

Unless everyone is using Headspace or one of the many other meditation apps, chances are they’re being anything but mindful. More likely they are all filling their brains with clickbait headlines, pictures of people showing off the glossiest version of their lives, and an endless scroll of meaninglessness.

There’s more computing power in most phones today than was used to run the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. And what do we use that awesome power for? Levelling up on Candy Crush and willfully ignoring the world around us, and ourselves.

People have become so preoccupied with their phones they not only become less mindful, they become dangerously mindless - easily manipulated by algorithms and fake news - and so lost in their heads that they can't even drive or walk across the street safely.

Pedestrian deaths are on the rise and cities are now installing street-level red lights at intersections so people who can’t seem to look up, can see indicators down by their feet that say “stop.”

So you could argue that our collective mindfulness is at an all-time low.

And as powerful and amazing as your shiny new phone may be, the truly amazing computer and the one we all need to start paying more attention to is the one between our ears.

According to Robin Sharma who wrote The 5 am Club, “phones are costing you your fortune. You need to get away from the world if you want to change it, or even just change yourself.”

Part of the problem is that most people have not yet learned to be comfortable with themselves. Or with silence. Because it's in the quiet moments when you start to realize what’s going on in your mind, and for many people, this can be very confronting. So they numb out with a TV that’s always on in the background at home, or the radio in the car, and by staring at their phones everywhere else.

But here’s the thing: the present moment is where everything happens, the past and future only exist as noise that should, for the most part, be tuned out. So how do you fight the algorithms of phone apps and social media that have been specifically designed to steal your energy and life force?

Learning to get comfortable with silence, and quiet our minds is the key. Meditation can help. Walks in nature can help. Long showers can help. In fact, lots of things besides turning off your phone can help. Including improv. 

One of the many great skills improv training gives you is becoming consciously aware of thoughts, feelings and environments - and not just your own. Everyone’s. Improv also teaches you that if you ever get stuck in life or on stage, all you have to do is connect to the present moment and the people around you and the answers will come.

In previous episodes, I spoke about Focus and Editing, which also have a role to play in mindfulness, so I invite you to check those out if you haven’t already.

And in the meantime, I’ll leave you with this little trick I learned from a monk who taught me it’s possible to practice mindfulness every day. The goal is to start small and eventually train yourself to be conscious of every decision and action you make.

Being in the present moment is the key, and the trick involves identifying a task, something you do frequently (that’s not on a phone or a computer) and treating it as mindful meditation. The only job is to do the job with complete focus and without letting any other thoughts or distractions get in the way.

For me, it’s doing the dishes. So whenever I’m standing at the sink, soapy sponge in hand and my thoughts are running wild, I ask myself, are you doing the dishes? 

Or are you doing. the. dishes?

The ideas, observations, and perspectives shared here are mine alone. 
I’d love to hear yours in the comments, or better yet in a review.

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