There have been a lot of books, documentaries, and articles about the adaptations our brains have made due to the fast-paced, quick content format of mobile entertainment, internet content, and some TV programming. In short: Our attention spans are decreasing because content we take in is shorter, with less depth. We don’t take time to contemplate, because too many people are already telling us their opinions and what we should think and believe, so we’re quick to move on to the next thing. As a result, our brains are being physically rewired to support this way of mental processing. Business processes within companies then change to meet the mentality of the customer, and because the employees themselves are under the same influence. Schools, the same. So it leaves us asking, if mind, body, and spirit are connected, what else might media be doing to us as individuals, and as a society? And is there a way to get control over it?
I see this playing out in my life as a husband and a parent. There is the tendency to feel programmed to steal every minute of the day since the world around you is moving at warp speed. My wife and I are so busy at work that, even though we both have been working from home for the last two years, we rarely have any time to have lunch together. I can count on one hand the number of times we have been able to actually sit down and have lunch together at home. More often than not, my wife prepares lots of meals over the weekend, and during the week, we will each warm up something for lunch and go right back to our distinct work areas in the home to eat at our computers, answering emails or some other tasks in between bites. There is sort of a standard joke at the end of our respective work days that we turn to each other and say “did we hug today?” We are sometimes disappointed that we did not even make time for a simple “check in” and a hug.
The fast pace has also crept into our home life. The kids are up around 5am or 5:30am, then prepped for their breakfast at 6am, then getting ready to be out the door at 6:45am to make the 7am daycare start time. There is little to no time to connect as a family and we find that we look forward so much to the weekends. It is on the weekends that we unplug as much as possible, and work on finding fun activities, and just spending time connecting as a family. I acknowledge that this shift from weekday to weekend may not be easy or doable for everyone, for many people must work on the weekend. To those families, I would say, find a day or two that works for your family and chip away at the fast pace. Slow down enough to treasure that time with family.
One thing we have instituted is, dinner time is family time. There are no phones, no TV, and no iPads. It is time to connect with one another face to face and simple say “how was your day?” This is always fun, for the kids will say which friends were are school that day, whom they played with, and any fun activities they did that day. We are always so appreciative of that window of time, as they are growing so fast.
Another way we stay grounded and try to slow the fast pace is to have gratitude front and center in our family. Gratitude is a tool one can use to find the positive in situations and to bring awareness to self. It is through the simple act of slowing down that we are present enough to be able to see the positive. You may have read my blog post “How does your family give thanks?” – Michael Floissac and read the story of the “Gratitude Jar.” Another common practice for my family is what we call “cris-cross applesauce” an activity where we sit (often cross-legged, hence the name) in a circle prior to bed and say three things we are thankful for. This also serves as a time to listen to what may have stood out in the day for each of us, and we can explore together any emotions that may come up during this practice.
One last practice at our home is placing strategic notes of thanks and gratitude around the house, so that at any moment, one can look up and see a phrase or quote that will trigger us to be thankful and to count our blessings. As the old saying goes, let us remember to “stop and smell the roses.” This is how our family is currently managing the fast pace of life, as our journey continues.