A number of years ago a story came out of renowned national violinist Joshua Bell playing in a DC Metro stop during rush hour. By the end of his playing a few people were there standing around but everyone else was rushing by.
Watch this 2-minute video and then we can look at how our brains are wired to miss the wonders of our lives that could very well be the secret to happiness and resiliency.
The story is that people dropped a total of $30 in his case, while that same night he had a sold out conference that went for $100 a seat. If we had a window into the commuter’s minds what would we see?
My guess is a lot of planning or rehearsing future events about where they need to go, the things that need to get done, maybe rehashing past events or possibly “rushing home to relax.” This video does a brilliant job at underscoring how we get so caught up in our habitual ways of thinking and doing that we fail to see the wonders that are all around us.
What’s the consequence of this? As the story I bring up in the introduction to The Now Effect conveys, it’s not too uncommon for our lives to go by only toward the later years to get in touch with what really matters. What if we can get this clarity now?
Not only would we begin to experience the freedom that’s always been there and connect to a more meaningful life, but we’d also sow the seeds of happiness and resiliency during difficult times.
When Richie Davidson came out with his study in 1993 that showed how mindfulness caused a shift in activity in the left side of the prefrontal cortex, known for positive emotion, he was conveying the neuroscience of resiliency. In other words, when difficulties arise, they’re met with a person who feels more balanced and grounded. Like a tree with shallow roots might get ripped out or blown over by strong wind, but when the roots are deep and grounded, it can stand its ground.
Take this with you today, begin to step back from your routine and get back in touch with the wonders of life. Actually stop and smell the roses if there are some. Walk slightly slower than usual feeling the gift of your legs, bringing awareness to sipping your drink and eating your food and actual taste it, recognizing it’s nourishment to your body. If you have kids or a partner who you’ve established a pattern of relating to, see if you can recognize the impermanence of their lives and take time to be with them (without your smartphone).
The fact is, research shows us that connecting to the here and now lights up different parts of our brains that prevent stress, anxiety and depression. We also have proof that it grows certain areas involved in learning, memory and empathy. But what matters most of all is your life and the lives of those you love, so why not drop into them as a practice. This is the effect of mindfulness, this is The Now Effect.
Give it a try and allow your experience to be your best teacher.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
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Last reviewed: 1 Mar 2012