Are you living in the now?

Are you living in the Now? Are you a Human Being or a Human Doing?

Many of us rush through life, not smelling the roses, not tasting what we put in our mouths, not truly engaging with others as we ‘get everything done’. When did this begin and why do we choose to live our lives like this? Many of us, I believe, can identify a change in the speed of our lives. I think part of this is a cultural change – particularly with regard to business expectations, and the technology we have developed as a human race.

Human beings are social animals and tend to live in groups. As we evolved we decided that bartering skills/produce/ideas, was a good survival strategy for us. Over time we developed money as a way to barter. The original idea was a good one.  It was efficient for some people to grow one product, while others grew another – people have different skills and have different resources available.

This is a long way from where we are today, with multimillion pound organisations demanding ‘efficient’ working, whilst the workers strive for large incomes to buy themselves the latest gadgets. Often we spend all day working in stressful environments to earn ourselves incomes that we don’t really need, in order to buy products that may actually be harming us, rather than enhancing our lives.

Let’s look at some examples:

  • Calculators – These are very useful for us, they speed things up and they are accurate – they are ‘efficient’. However, we know that exercising our brains is good for our overall, long-term mental health. Not only are we losing the capacity to do maths in our head, but also the opportunity of exercising our little grey cells!
  • Video Games – Often these games are fast and furious! They create high stimulation. That’s why we like them. However they trigger adrenalin and stress our systems. Over time this can affect our ability to relax – the self-regulate to enjoy the simpler things in life. They are also very addictive
  • Lifts – A very useful invention if you have mobility problems. Generally we don’t take care of our physical health. In the UK about 46% of men in England and 32% of women are overweight; we know the health implications of this. Our bodies need exercise and yet we have designed many things to ‘make life easier’. What are we actually doing by creating these labour saving devises?  I would suggest we are not really thinking it through!
  • Cars – Again I am not denying their usefulness. However, recently, I visited the USA and was stunned that people drive from one shop to another in a small retail park. We ‘save time’ by driving down to the local shops but what is the cost to us- physically, emotionally or psychologically? How nourishing it would be for us to change our habits – to get outside, get fresh air in our lungs, experience the world around us – the colours of the trees, feel the sun/rain/wind on our skin, to exercise our bodies, and engage with people we meet along the way. Instead we shut ourselves in a small metal box, zip to the shops, rush in, rush out – may not even notice the person we have purchased from.

In Transactional Analysis – our aim is always Autonomy. This is an ‘in the moment’ state, in which we are living, experiencing ourselves, others and the world. Another way of looking at this is living ‘Mindfully’. I believe that the most nourishing experience for us as human beings is to truly engage and experience the moment – to have intimate emotional contact with others, and ourselves, where we are not watching TV, distracted by work, thinking about what we are doing next week, but instead are truly in contact.

One of my greatest joys is to see the world through my two year old granddaughter’s eyes and experiences. She reminds me to live in the moment. We explore pinecones and leaves, we spend time digging for worms and sitting on the grass, we splash in puddles and we take time. Life has a different quality to it. It’s exciting, rich and wonderful.

She reminds me of the words in Whitney Houston’s song the ‘Greatest Love of All’

‘I believe that children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.’

The problem comes when we don’t teach them well – when we teach them ‘efficient’ ways, which are not always good for them. Of course we have to have balance in our lives, I am not suggesting we give up everything, but maybe focusing on the true quality of life would serve us better.

If you want to re-learn (because you knew it once) how to ‘be’ rather than ‘do’ – watch a young child – they have not yet learnt how to ‘not be’.

These are my random ramblings today; tomorrow I might change my mind.

by Leilani Mitchell

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