Mindful

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Myth

Busyness = importance
We so often wear our busyness as a badge of honor. We see our ability to withstand mounting levels of stress as a sign of character.

Truth

Busyness = cognitive overload
An overloaded brain hinders performance. It impairs our ability to think creatively, plan, organize, innovate, solve problems, make decisions, resist temptations, learn new things easily, speak fluently, remember important social information (like the name of our boss’s daughter, or our daughter’s boss), and control our emotions.

Turnaround

Single-task
Brains are not computers. They’re not designed to run on multiple tracks simultaneously. Switching back and forth makes us tired, less efficient, and error-prone. When we settle in, put distracting devices aside, and do one thing at a time, we worry less about keeping up with time—and that’s the exact opposite of busy.

Myth

More is better
We live in a more is more culture. We want a more prestigious job, more likes on Facebook, more enrichment activities for our kids, more work so we can earn more money so we can buy more stuff.

Truth

Often, less is more
When we step back from the lie that more is going to be better, we often find that we already have enough.

Turnaround

Find the minimum effective dose
The “minimum effective dose” (MED) is the lowest dose of a pharmaceutical that spurs a clinically significant change in health or well-being. Look for the MED in everything: work, sleep, meditation, blogging frequency, checking email, school volunteering, homework help, date nights.

Myth

Doing nothing is a waste of time
We do not like standing in line waiting for things or staring out the window before everyone has shown up for a meeting. That’s wasting time and time is money…and the only thing worse than wasting time is wasting money.

Truth

Our brains benefit when we waste time
When we let our minds go…to daydream, to wander…an area of our brain turns on that’s responsible for creative insight. And our best work comes from those creative insights—the ones that happen in the shower!

Turnaround

Stare into space
We feel uncomfortable with stillness, with downtime, so we cancel it out by becoming busy again. Instead of just staring out the window on the bus, we read our Facebook feed. We check our email in line at the grocery store. Instead of enjoying our dinner, we shovel food in our mouths while staring at a screen. Give yourself the joy of just staring into space sometimes. What could possibly be easier to put into practice?

Read the full story in the June 2015 issue of Mindful magazine.
Christine Carter

Christine Carter, Ph.D., is a sociologist, happiness expert, and a Senior Fellow at the Greater Good Science Center. She is the author of The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work and Raising Happiness.

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