The (Nearly) Lost Art of Paying Attention

I was painting a ceiling recently when I had an epiphany or as my graduate school friend used to say “a blinding flash of the obvious”. I had an 18” roller loaded with nearly a quart paint over my head, when I heard a small “click, click, click” over the squish squash sound of the roller making contact with the ceiling. I could also feel a subtle vibration through the handle.

The audible vibration was was telling me something wasn’t Kosher. Apparently the roller cover was just about to come off and if it didn’t hit me in the face, it certainly would have made a colossal mess of my customers kitchen.

I immediately put the roller down, made an adjustment to the handle and went back to work. Crisis averted. Phew. As I finished painting however, it occurred to me there really is no substitute for awareness. I had been dangerously close to an afternoon with a very different ending.

I spent the next several hours thinking about all the distractions we are faced with and how we have become accustom to doing many things at once. Too many things if you ask me.

Just look around at any stoplight and you can see people checking their devices, whether it’s directions to their destination or text messages matters not, their eyes were not on the road ahead.

It even happens walking down the street. This may not seem as potentially life threatening, but stepping off an unexpected curve or bumping into an bystander can have it’s own negative consequences.

I know it is tempting, I am tempted too. When the phone buzzes and you are in the middle of a conversation, or writing, or cooking or you name it, it can be hard to ignore. However, paying attention is more than a courtesy, it is an essential life skill that involves the ability to focus, filter, and follow through.

These are important actions and activities that contribute to our success, our relationships, our happiness. Like any behaviors, they can be learned and unlearned. They can become habits. Habits that help or hinder? Well, that is up to us.

So why not let awareness be the antidote to our distraction? Distraction isn’t a sought after state of being. It doesn’t feel good. It isn’t rewarding. It has no worthwhile benefits that I can see.

Awareness, focus, attention, now these are behaviors worth practicing. This is where the rich stuff of life lies. Noticing the color of the sky or of someones eyes. The sound of a click, click, click versus a squish, squash, squish. When a piece of music changes key. These are some of the things I notice when I am not distracted.

Join me won’t you? The good news is this doesn’t cost us a penny. It hasn’t a single calorie to count. And we don’t need to make space in our closets, only room in our hearts. It’s a great life!

Bettina Blanchard

About Bettina Blanchard

It’s not what we have, it’s what we do that makes life fun. Professional organizer, business owner, radio show host, accordion player, I love to live and write about finding the balance between having and doing.