At this exact moment, Tee is cooking massive quantities of delicata squash, our kitten is playing outside (but not, thankfully, up in a tree), and a sweet baby boy is sleeping on my chest.
Life is wonderful.
And yet, I find myself struggling with this one particular habit: background noise.
Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been accustomed to having some form of entertainment playing in the background almost constantly – television, an audiobook, a podcast, etc.
At different points in my life, this habit has been less problematic. Like the years I lived without access to TV. And the time before my iPhone made constant entertainment even more of a reality. (There’s literally no point in my life when I am not able to be listening to an episode of The Big Bang Theory in the background.) And the times when I’ve worked hard to break this habit so that I can live a more mindful and present life.
BUT I tend to slip back into this habit during times of stress. Even when it’s happy stress, like right now – happy, blissful tiredness and crazy scheduling and life adjustments. These are wonderful things – but they still result in me being tired and cranky at moments, which is when I’m most likely to engage in numbing activities and least likely to work to overcome problematic habits.
So – what do I do?
How do I break this habit, increasing my mindfulness and overall presence, so that I can have a clear head, a happy heart, and lots of mindful present quality time with my baby boy?
I don’t want to give up television or podcasts completely – that’s not my goal. What I want is to be mindful of my intention. If I am listening to NPR Politics or re-watching Jane The Virgin with the intention of enjoying myself and consuming some culture – that’s fantastic. However – if I’m listening to The West Wing in the background of my life because I’m uncomfortable with silence or trying to numb some difficult feeling – that’s a whole different story. That’s what I’m working to change.
When I’m constantly engaging in background noise, a lot of my headspace is consumed with nothingness. When I’m allowing myself time for silence, for calm, for quiet, I can feel myself getting a surge of adrenaline. I can feel myself getting energized and replenished by having room to think, space for spontaneous thought.
Whenever I’m setting intentions, be it via a new year’s resolution, a happiness project, a blog post, I am always, always eager to work on doing one thing at a time fully. I know it makes me feel better to live a mindful life.
Making it happen, however, is not always easy.
So here’s my plan:
Part A: take baby steps.
Part B: one day at a time.
Part C: practice self-compassion when I don’t do this thing perfectly.
Part D: repeat.