Do you ever have the experience of being in your in your car listening to the radio, and even though a good song comes on that you like, you still shuffle through the other five pre-set stations, only to land back on the original one you started at?
There are a few things I find interesting about this phenomena of constantly switching radio stations (or similarly, flipping through TV channels). One, is that we tend to experience FOMO – Fear of Missing Out, or the thought of: “Even though I like this song on the radio, what if there is a better one somewhere else? What if I’m missing my favorite song ever??” FOMO can be a very powerful motivator to not be present, with the perceived sense (or fear), that there is always something better someplace else.
In fact, a study performed by MyLife.com has determined that 56% of people are afraid of missing out on events, news, and important status updates; this explains so many people’s addictions to social media outlets. And in fact, this FOMO is a contributing factor to an increase in depression and anxiety, with the fear that life is better anywhere other than where I’m at.
You know the famous quote, The grass is always greener on the other side. I once read a great counter to that quote, by Neil Barringham, which says, “The grass is greener where you water it.”
I love Neil’s quote because it has to do with the attention of your mind. Where you choose to place your attention is where you can be most present, and that presence is what allows contentment and peace to grow. In our instant-gratification-society, it’s understandable why there is a challenge to be patient and present enough to water the grass you have.
Mindfulness and meditation practice offer tools to help you cultivate such intentions. According to neuroscientists, our minds wander at least 47% of time, so it’s no wonder we struggle to be with what is! But just because it is hard, does not mean it’s impossible; it just means that it takes time to practice it. Mindfulness is the practice of continually (without judgment!) coming back to the present moment. We notice our mind has wandered to the past, future or digital device, we don’t judge the fact that it’s wandered, we simply practice bringing it back to the here and now. Easier said than done, I know! But with practice it gets easier and easier as we establish new neuropathways for responding to whatever distracts us.
Another fascinating phenomena the radio station example makes me think about is the idea of acceptance. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I work with my clients on how to accept what is, which can get tricky because how do you accept something that you don’t like? Well, the truth is, whatever is arising in the moment is already there and to fight it or reject it doesn’t actually make it go away. That which we resist, persists. The way to get past the areas in which we are stuck is to first accept them, and only then are we able to begin to move forward.
Acceptance is a very difficult practice to do, which is why I brought up the songs on the radio. If we can begin to accept small stuff, the easier it’ll become to practice accepting the big stuff. So, let it be okay that the song isn’t your absolute favorite! Let it be okay that there may be better ones on other stations. Let it be okay for your mind to wander or to judge or to be restless. And let it be okay for you to practice allowing whatever is arising in the moment to exist.
If you’d like opportunity to practice, I’m offering drop-in meditation classes, every other Wednesday (next one, June 14th), from 12:15-1pm. (The cost is $33, and there is no experience necessary. Just come as you are, and be open to the experience of creating space for stillness and silence, and learning tools to tap into your own greater wisdom, peace and contentment. Please check out www.mindfulnessandtherapycenter.com for current schedule, as it may change over the summer, and for more info please feel free to email me at [email protected].