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Time, to paraphrase Einstein, is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once. To this idea I would add: in any one moment, not a lot of things are happening. Right now, you’re reading this post. Afterwards, you might be working. Earlier today, you were eating breakfast. If you could pause time at any one moment, you’d see that only one or two things are unfolding in front of you.
Of course, it doesn’t always feel this way. But the simple truth is that the more attention we spend on what’s in front of us, the happier we become. Focusing on the present means we can process things deeper, and slow down enough to enjoy them—and because we become more immersed in our work, we become more productive, too.
We live in a world that’s always changing. But on a moment by moment basis—when our life and work actually unfolds—things change a lot more slowly.
Today, I have a simple challenge for you. Take a few moments to notice what’s unfolding around you, and try to focus on just one thing for that short time. As you work, or as you read these words, shut out the distractions around you and focus on one thing. If the sun is shining, take a few moments to do nothing else except soak it in. When you’re speaking with a loved one, think of nothing else while you dive deep into the conversation. If you work today, shut off a few of the distractions around you and immerse yourself in your current project. On your ride home from work, shut off your phone and the radio, and enjoy the drive. Or take a few moments to just breathe.
Science shows that we spend just over half of our attention on what’s in front of us, in the moment. But we can really only focus on and deal with one moment at a time.
Life is more enjoyable this way—and if you practice this momentary focus enough, chances are you’ll become more productive to boot.