After quite a few years I have come to believe that living life well is much simpler than I had always imagined. The recipe for living life well each day is a recipe in two parts. The first part—do only one thing. Do one thing at a time. If it is sweeping the walkway, then just sweep the walkway. If it is watching TV, just watch TV. Don’t watch TV and look at your phone. Don’t watch TV and eat. Just watch TV. When you’re done, you’re done. 
 
The second part—pay attention to what you’re doing. When you sweep the walkway, think about how to do it in the best way, and also be aware of the sound of the broom as it touches the pavement. Be aware of the motion of your whole body as you move the broom back and forth. Don’t daydream, sweep the walkway with all of yourself. Your whole task is to sweep the walkway, and, done properly what you are doing will engage all of you.
 
If you try this for just one day you will see that everything you do becomes more interesting. How I measure the water for the oatmeal is interesting. Writing out a shopping list is interesting. Walking the dog is interesting, watching where he stops, thinking about why he stops there to smell a smell. All of a sudden I am not living life halfheartedly, I am completely engaged in being with my dog as we walk. It is what I am doing. The other remarkable thing is that all of my day becomes more enjoyable. It is not as though washing the windows becomes enjoyable because the windows need to be washed. No, it is enjoyable because I am doing it. Right now. And the satisfaction springs from treating this one thing as important and recognizing that I have given my life over to this one thing, washing the windows. It is enjoyable to see that no time in my day was squandered. Even the time I was doing nothing at all. To really stop, relax, do nothing and just enjoy the moment was doing exactly what was needed if that is what I chose for that moment.
 
Something else emerges from this practice over time. I begin to easily decide on the right thing to do in the next moment. It is no longer a sense of doing the right thing out of obligation or with a sense of drudgery. Or, conversely, as an escape. It is what is in front of you that is next. Whether it is having a difficult online conversation with a coworker or drinking a glass of wine with a friend on Zoom. I do one or the other because one or the other is the right thing in that moment. Not because one is enjoyable and one is not. And I don’t have to trouble myself with choosing, because the right thing to do next becomes obvious. And after that, the next thing to do is also obvious. It has all become much simpler. 
 
This is likely all old stuff to many of you reading this. Call it Mindfulness 101. But perhaps it is so easy that we have forgotten to practice it. Wanting complexity and deeper experiences, we have moved on. So, as an experiment today, try to start over as a beginner and just try to do one thing at a time. Then, see what happens. You might be surprised.
 
Comments are welcome.
 
 

8 Comments

  1. Sweet.

  2. Thanks, Kathy. 🙂

  3. Thank you for the timely reminder to take one thing at a time. Holidays are so full of things to be done and in the rush it is easy to forget to slow down and enjoy the moments. It’s the moments of wrapping gifts, putting ornaments on a tree and baking pies and cookies that allow those feelings of gratitude and joy to fill your soul.

  4. Yes, you are so right, Christel. Special times such as Christmas are full to the brim with both the likelihood of becoming overly identified with all and, instead, the possibility of cherishing the moment. Both are so near. Good to hear from you, be well.

  5. Thank you Dennis
    Mindfulness 101 has been quite a reminder these last few weeks
    Seems to remain in the atmosphere, something so simple to return to.

  6. Thanks, Dara. I am reminded of the story of the doorman outside of a building asking Peggy Flinsch why he observed the same people coming to a meeting every week, year after year. She replied that “they were members of the society of slow learners”. Seems our fate, as well. Be well.

  7. Taking care of my granddaughter, I find myself trying (unsuccessfully often) to get other things done and not completely engage in the joy of a 12-month-old. Your post reminds me that I’m missing out I should focus on only her whenever I can. Is housework that important when I have the fleeting joy of a child just about to take her first steps? Thank you for the reminder.

  8. I like what you share very much, Susan. If one were to think how in 20 years the memories of your granddaughter at this time would be then so poignant to you, then of course you would be more wholeheartedly in the moment with her now. But of course, in the moment we forget. I am exactly the same.

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