Do you ever find yourself feeling like you're not fully engaged in what you're doing? Whether you're at work, at home, or even in your hobbies, it can be difficult to stay focused and motivated. But when you're fully engaged, you're more productive, more creative, and more likely to achieve your goals.
Happy and intentional people work hard to develop the habit of being fully engaged with who they’re with and what they’re doing. In psychology, this is called Flow. Athletes call it being in the zone. Whatever you decide to call this habit, it is essential for experiencing happiness and success in every area of your life.
I have a confession to make.
I have ADHD so I’m either fully engaged with what I’m doing, or my thoughts are bouncing around like a small rubber ball on a concrete floor. Which coincidentally leads me to physically feel like I want to bounce off the walls.
When I’m fully engaged, I’m very happy. However, when my attention is scattered and haphazard like that rubber ball, I am miserable.
When I was younger, I would have immediately given in to my hyper mind. In those moments of distraction, instead of trying to engage with what I was doing, I would search for something to engage my whole mind.
Some of the activities I would distract myself with were going for a drive, watching a show, shopping, or just aimlessly pacing around the house. The problem was that most of the time these solutions were neither productive nor satisfying in the long term. I realized that if I were going to achieve my biggest goals and be happy in the process, I would have to overcome the bouncing ball in my mind and learn how to become fully engaged with what I’m doing more often.
So, for the last few years, I have been learning how to tame my distracted thoughts and eventually become fully engaged in what I want or need to do. This isn’t an easy task, but one that is well worth it.
If you would like to get into this state of Flow more often, I have a few suggestions that I hope will serve as a useful guide for you.
3 Steps for Being Fully Engaged
1. Become aware of the times when your mind is not fully engaged.
The first step in creating any kind of change is awareness. Without awareness, you can easily travel down the wrong path forever. To become more aware, begin by reflecting on times when you intend to do one thing but find yourself doing something completely irrelevant.
Do you sit down to work on a project and then find yourself checking email or cleaning your desk instead?
Perhaps you’ve resolved to listen intently to your kids as they tell you about your day, only to drift off mentally, hearing less than half of what they said.
When reading does your mind often wander off causing you to mindlessly cover several paragraphs or even pages of your book?
2. Give yourself grace for noticing when your not being fully engaged.
If you’re serious about becoming happier by becoming fully engaged, start becoming aware of the times when your mind drifts off into left field. Then simply give yourself grace.
Too often we beat ourselves up mentally for not already being the person we think we should be. In fact, this strategy never works.
Because our brains are designed to move away from pain. Think about it, if you were to touch a hot stove, you would immediately learn to avoid touching anything hot in the future.
Well, the same applies to trying to change our behavior. If we catch ourselves for having lost focus and as a result make ourselves feel bad about it, we would quickly learn to not to become aware of those moments because the result leads to us feeling bad for what we had done.
Instead, extend yourself grace.
To practice giving yourself grace, tell yourself that you are only human. Next remind yourself that even though you're not behaving in the way you ultimately want to, you are improving.
Then, instead of beating yourself up, take a moment and reward yourself for noticing that you had lost focus. A simple good job and a smile should suffice. Just know you are training your mind to stay in the present moment, and learning takes time.
3. Redirect your thoughts and become fully engaged.
The third and final step is to redirect your thoughts to the current moment and repeat these steps as needed. Don’t worry about how fast you’re progressing, just focus on the improvements you’re making.
With practice, I believe you’ll eventually develop the happiness habit of becoming a fully engaged person.
Where to Go From Here...
I hope you found this useful. If you want to learn more about how to acquire the habit of happy people then check out these articles.