Being in the now

I’ve previously written some posts on how easy it is to lose your focus when there are thousands of things trying to grab your attention: Adapting to the increasing speed of change and Rambling on patience, blogs and the meaning of life, but it seems like a topic I keep coming back to.

The reason is that people seem to have a hard time really being in the now these days. Cellphones, bills, computers, and general worries about a lot of the other things come in the way. Things move so fast these days it has become necessary to always be a step ahead (in your head!). This obviously makes us more stressed and less able to just be in the now and experience life.

This might require you not fiddling with your phone while you’re at that dinner party or waiting for the bus. And for you to realize that you would be better off not thinking about next month’s bills when you’re sunbathing in the park. And you might have to stop stressing over what your life work will be while you’re taking a shower or walking your dog.

The answer is just being.

It’s not as easy as it sounds (although for some people it might be, I can’t imagine the people living on my street in Sliema, Malta, a place called “lazy corner” having a hard time shutting off their brains), because if you’re like me, there’s always something whirring around the old brain.

I know I need to shut it off and just exist, but things keep coming in the way. Life comes in the way.

So how do you shut off your mind? Here are five super simple ideas:

1. Exercise. Take a walk or a jog or preferably some even more high-intense exercise or sport that makes it impossible to think about other things.
2. Kiss your loved one (corny – but if you think about other things then, you have a problem).
3. Talk to someone and really, really listen. Too many people have one eye on their phone during conversations these days.
4. Do something fun with your kid(s) (if you have kids, otherwise borrow one). Their endless energy should hopefully rub off on you.
5. Meditate.

Can you help me come up with more ideas on to shut off our brains and really just be in the now? Please comment.

Have a nice day.

Rambling on patience, blogs, meaning of life

I can’t wait to finish this post so I can get on to the next item on my to-do list.

The thing which frustrates me most about the hyper-modern, super-groovy, social-media and Internet-crazed society we live in today is the lack of patience. Things are not allowed to take time. People don’t stop to think. Everything has to happen NOW.

You can’t even wait for food anymore, that’s why we have fast foods, microwave dinners and instant coffee. Why go through the trouble to make anything when you can get it now, no extra effort involved? And there’s no point in reading a book that takes two weeks when there’s a movie which tells the whole story in 95 minutes, right?

Is this attitude a result of the speed of life today? Not really? It’s not that we die faster, instead, through all kinds of pills, botox and life support tools, we live longer and look better while doing so (win-win!?). Some research points to that recent generations will be 150 years or older. All this time and we still need to stress through life like overcharged Duracell bunnies? Makes no sense to me.

The meaning of life these days usually mean two things, make shitloads of money and walk around and wave them in people’s faces, or get famous at whatever cost – two things that will take loads of effort, stress and possibly alienating some of the things you really like to do. It’s all a search for attention and “Look at me! I’m me! And there’s only one of ME!”

It’s not like I don’t do or think like that. I like to write books, which is both fun and relaxing (except for the editing part which is hell) and a clear shout for people to understand me or like my mind. Every book could say: here’s an invitation to like my mind on the cover. Sometimes people do, sometimes they don’t. In one way I believe the Internet makes us overly critical and analytical of each other. Just look at any popular online forum and you will find more hate than in a brigade of Nazis. But then there’s also the other side, the global, mind-blowing we-reach-out-to-each-other part which is pretty damn cool.

Blogs are cool. Or are they’re just there to relieve ourselves of the pressure of editing our thoughts? I call this post “Rambling…” because I think a lot of blogs, mine included, are just that, a rather raw form of self-expression. I will read this post through once, fix some minor stuff and then click publish. Because I’m stressed. Because I have other things to do than blog. Because I need to prioritise.  If this was a short story, it would take days or even weeks of work, but since it’s basically just rambling and I owe you, dear reader, pretty much nothing, it will be online pretty much as scribbled.

And when the post is out, when it’s online, it goes out on Twitter, Facebook and any other kind of social media and with a little luck, people enjoy the rambling and click “Like” or “Retweet” or even write a comment. Our egos then make a small somersault, happy to get the recognition and find people who are like-minded and like our minds.

We are attention whores. But is it so bad? Isn’t the online world pushing us closer to each other? Making it easier for us to write e-books (thanks Amazon, Smashwords, Apple iBookstore, Nook, Kobo, etc) or publish our music through Youtube, Soundcloud or Myspace (isn’t it dead yet?) or our photos through Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. We can be heard and seen without agents, without a stroke of luck, without having lots of zeroes on our bank statements.

This is the groovy part of the Internet.

Then there’s the part that stresses me out with its flow of Facebook updates, Twitter streams and instant news updates.

Oh shit, look at the clock.

I have to hit publish now.

/J.