Last night I read an interesting article in the latest edition of the Utne Reader. It was a discussion regarding attention and focus. New research suggests that we don't have a finite amount of attention, each of us can tap into more attention and focus by directing ourselves to attend and focus on the right things. In regards to the right things, we are all different I have been thinking about this lately and realize that I direct more focus and attention than I would like to things that aren't really important to me such as, picking up my house, doing laundry, running never ending errands, and driving.
As a mother it is essential that I do some of this, but I have been thinking about how to gift myself with more energy and attention to important things and I realized that those seemingly meaningless tasks bring me no joy whatsoever, but the outcomes bring me happiness. I like the house to be clean, I love the smell of clean laundry and it is nice to have a choice of what clothes to wear, I like to check "done" on my to do list, and driving usually means that I am doing something that a) needs to be done for myself, b) is important for my children, or c) may be taking us somewhere where we actually want to go. So, in that light, all of these things that take my time and attention are important and need attending to.
What needs to change is how I make these necessary activities part of my life and enjoy said outcomes without allowing them to take over. I will start with picking up the house. What makes me eternally joyful and ever so happy is when my children and my husband actually clean up their own messes. To that end I will be directing more attention to teaching my children how to do this. I doubt that I will be able to actually teach my husband how to pick up after himself, but I have heard the children remind him to do so on more than one occasion and that is a start. For me, there is always meditation or copious amounts of red wine. Messes don't seem to bother me as much when I engage in either one of those activities.
Whenever a mother says that she wants to "be happy," it is considered selfish. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that if I ain't happy, this household of mine isn't very happy either. I don't mean this in a selfish, surface kind of way. True inner happiness is important, mother or not. In this most people are the same. People are happy when they are able to attend to things that bring them pleasure. Attention is an ethereal concept. I am trying to make it more solid. The Utne Reader article recommends using some form of meditation, or having periods of time when you are able to empty your mind and "zone out." Apparently it is during these periods of time that humans are able to recharge their capacity for creativity and center on the things that are important. This has always been challenging for me, I sense that is the case for many of us type "A's," but I have to say that I am getting better. Yoga at least once a week has been a good start. Sitting down and actually completing this post without jumping up to attend to every argument going on between my children or to clean up the leftover dinner food has been another. Day by day, hour by hour...