I recently picked up a copy of Daniel Pink’s excellent read, When. An excellent book that explores the science of perfect timing. How do we get it perfect? Can we manifest a ‘right time, right place’ scenario?
Among its numerous lessons, the book teaches how to get the most out of your morning coffee and breaks during the workday. Plus, the importance of understanding your own chronotype (that is when you are most energetic and lethargic each day).
Do we overemphasise endings?
One concept, in particular, made me think: his discussion about how as a society we tend to overemphasise the importance of endings.
Studies show that when we face an ending of some sort (including people falling into an age that has a 9 on the end of it, me when I wrote this). This tendency is to display extreme behaviour like choosing to take unnecessary risks or sabotaging relationships.
The psychology of it indicates we are innately grasping for a happy ending. And not just happy, but purposeful.
When references films like Pixar’s Up that perfectly capture the essence of this human condition. These movies make us cry while feeling sentimental at the same time.
Pink explains that in knowing this about ourselves, we can take steps to make our endings more gratifying.
Have a chat with your future self
A beautiful example of how to do this, is sending a message to your future self.
- This might be a letter, vlog, blog or audio recording. Whatever format, put it away for five years.
- The proposition made me a little teary.
- What would I tell my future self?
- I think I would start by saying I hope she lets loved ones know they are valued – always (and that she’s continued to do better on that front, as I intend to do from now on).
- I want her to live without regret, anger and bitterness – good lives are wasted on such things.
- I do hope she drinks less wine (possibly).
- There should be dogs, everywhere.
- And music, plus adventure.
I’d say that I hope she’s invested in creativity and travel; to remember that life has taught that things do get better; bring the light, be the light and look for it in others.
That’s all served me well so far. Finally, I would include a quote from tinybuddha.com, because it’s perfect:
‘Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself’.
This is the abridged version, and I’m not sure what I’ll think of it in 2023.
Perhaps I’ll be moved by the experience and progress made. Or sadly by naivety, disappointments not yet known, and challenges overcome.
Your time is now
When advocates that action like this serves to bridge the gap between past and present, this is one of the best ways to find substance in our own lives.
‘Living in the moment’ is all the rage (and it’s no secret that I fly the mindfulness flag, it’s important).
However, Pink made me think about the feeling of satisfaction that’s possible when ‘me now’ feels close to ‘me’ past and future.
This exercise removes the detachment we feel from the future self and enables us to make better choices that help her/him when that future arrives.
‘Time’ is complicated in terms of life, love and the dreams we envision, and many of us know a soul or two who have detrimentally gotten lost in it.
I hope I can impart to you some timeless insight which I took from Pink’s work; that is, by taking control of our time, and understanding how our past, present and future relate, we can vastly improve our experiences now.
Think I’ll include that wisdom in my note to future me too. But for now, over to you…
How do you see it? Share in the comments below.
Often I just want to run away from a computer, overwhelmed by eight hours or more in front of one for work (perpetually in need of a Malta vacation, it seems).
Other times, when without apparatus to scribble down my thoughts, I long for anything that will enable me to record ideas.
Malta vacation – an exercise in mindfulness
Writing is an outlet and my love, and I never feel more inspired than when I’m travelling. If I’m constantly thinking and on sensory alert, am I being mindful on the road?
Despite the media craziness and the threats that would have us believe we are barely safe to leave our or homes, I am at peace when I’m exploring somewhere new.
It might sound odd that I suggest travel is the best opportunity to actually practice mindfulness – on the road we’re always looking around, getting involved with the senses and quite possibly on a device like a laptop or phone. The mind can be busy.
However, I think we can experience mindfulness in an almost pure form while travelling and feeling new things; experiences, sights, sounds, smells and tastes.
I feel blessed to be able to see the beauty in things too, without judgement. Difference is interesting, often charming.
I suppose awareness is the trick. And then, life is definitely beautiful.
I’m currently on a crowded bus in Malta that’s ferrying customers of all ages along the Sliema strip towards the capital Valletta, and then out towards where we are based in il Żurrieq.
I struggle to maintain balance, holding on for dear life up the front of the bus and scrambling to tap my thoughts down into my iPhone’s Notes app. It’s around 7pm and this particular August day’s sunset has begun it’s decent across the harbour. All I can think is:
How enchanting, I wish I could share this with my loved ones [who I wish could be here as I know they’d appreciate it].
It’s at this point it occurred to me – after Cooper and I spent hours today creating travel content (videos and photography) we are proud of – that while the likes of us are sometimes frowned upon for the time we spend staring at a screen, we might be the mindful ones.
Other digital nomads understand where we’re coming from, and if you don’t, consider for a moment that we are not just playing around on our phones and being entirely anti-social; we are consciously paying attention for the beautiful moments.
We are capturing them in the best way we know how: those landscapes, experiences, history, stories, that we can share to be inspiring, helpful, entertaining or informative (perhaps all of the above).
That’s what most travel bloggers intend.
We are consciously seeking the photo, video, words that might inform and educate your next decision or judgement on any given destination.
In this way, those of us being conscious about creating and capturing are being mindful.
And trust me, we are grateful for these moments because we are aware of just how precious they are.
We are also mindful to put the devices down and enjoy too.
There’s nothing that irritates me more than people wandering mindlessly about, noses in phones, not realising they are holding up a huge crowd behind them or missing out on something their friend is saying to them.
But, sometimes when inspiration strikes, you need to take advantage of a 40 minute bus ride and get those words onto paper (or into a phone, whatever is handy).
Next time you find yourself confused or irritated at someone with a camera who looks like they’re trying to capture ‘just another shot for Instagram’, have a little faith that maybe they are not just another selfie-obsessed tourist; maybe, just maybe, they’re on a mission to inspire, educate and inform, like we are.
Or perhaps they’re chasing a dog, as we do too. But that story for another time.
If you’re heading to Malta, discover our best places in Malta to visit here in a beautiful photo story
What do you think about this and how do you practice mindfulness on the road? Would love to know, drop me a line in the comments.