Do you remember the last time you were lost in the moment? Getting lost in the moment can be described as being so immersed in something, usually something enjoyable, that you completely lose track of all time. Distractions ebb away, as do all other concerns. Everything else in your life is put tacitly on hold. If you’re an adult, especially a middle-aged-or-more adult, chances are those lost-in-time moments are few and far between. I have to admit that most of my memories of being lost in the moment are from childhood. What I remember most from those years is how much I loved art. I remember the total happy absorption I would feel as I immersed myself in my crayon drawings, completely unaware of the passage of time. Life was good.
But as we grow up, we have more and more on our mind. It gets much harder to be able to step away from worries, concerns, and frustrations, and once again address a current activity with total, undivided focus. Losing ourselves in the moment may even begin to feel like a selfish indulgence, since we have so many responsibilities. Interestingly, according to an article published by Harvard University psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert back in 2011, this can be a significant source of unhappiness.
The broad conclusion of this study is that the more absorbed we are able to become in whatever our current activity might be, the happier we are. When our mind and thereby our attention wanders away from whatever we are doing, we become unhappy.
Killingsworth is quoted as saying, “Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people’s happiness. In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.”
Children have an amazing ability to lose themselves in the present moment, to give their entire attention to whatever they are doing without worrying or thinking about other aspects of their life, and as adults, we could benefit from their example. I’m not saying that all children do this all the time, but they certainly have the ability to do it.
You’ve likely seen your son or daughter caught up in building something or drawing something or inventing something. Maybe their brow is furrowed with concentration. Perhaps they are holding their mouth in that certain way they do, a tiny tip of their tongue peeking out. Or they are in the yard, running joyfully after a firefly or a butterfly, shrieking with delight.
If you have kids, take advantage of their example in this regard. Take some time to get down on the floor and play with them, read with them, talk with them (interestingly, the study found that one of the activities that made people happiest was having conversations)…lose yourself in the moment with them…even if it’s just for a moment. Of course your kids will enjoy it too!