Let me tell you a story today. The story is about me and my partner in life, let’s call him Mr. Tinker for the purposes of this article. I think it is fair to say that we have known each other since I remember myself, we do most things together and are pretty much inseparable. I guess it is love, yes!
So I was just reminiscing on one of the past days and I realized how much Mr. Tinker is talking all the time! Just imagine, we wake up in the morning and the first thing I hear are his complaints about the early hour – ‘I want to sleep’, ‘who on Earth came up with the idea of starting work at 8 a.m.’ and ‘Oh, I hate early mornings’ – is something he would normally say. Then we go to have a breakfast and while drinking the morning coffee and watching some news, he comments that we need to drink less coffee, as it is unhealthy, and that the world is going crazy – ‘how are we going raise our future kids here?!’. I mumble something in response and go brush my teeth. Although I would prefer to do that on my own, Mr. Tinker joins me in the bathroom (sorry for the intimate detail), and while I brush my teeth, he showers. It wouldn’t be a problem, if he weren’t one of those ‘singing-under-the shower’ type of guys. That day his choice is ‘Story of my life’ by One Direction. Yes, the catchy one.
Actually, the same song plays later on the radio, when I drive Mr. Tinker off to work, and this time we sing together. But this doesn’t last long, as this day he has a very important work meeting and presentation, so it is time for some drama. Yes, for a man he is too much of a Drama-Queen! So, I try to listen to the radio and concentrate on the road, but all I hear is his stressed voice: ‘Oh my, how will it go today?’, ‘I am totally unprepared’, ‘I am so going to fail’ and so on. I try to comfort him by saying that he has been preparing and it is not the first time he is about to do a presentation, but nothing helps. He goes on and on, with some funny and totally ‘out of the blue’ remarks in-between…something like ‘hey, look what a nice red VW Beetle! You wanted one of those, right?! Oh, such a shame that you don’t have enough money to get it’. I don’t have much time to answer before we are back to the work presentation drama… Let me tell you that the presentation went quite well actually! However, we had to spend a couple of hours after work discussing what went wrong and what could have been done better. Naturally, my task was mostly to listen, as Mr. Tinker had a lot to say.
I will not bother you further with the details of the rest of our day together, especially as I think you already got a good idea of how our life together is. Probably by now you are also questioning why I would still live with such a guy!? Well, first of all to balance out his annoyance, I should admit that he can also be very helpful at times. For example, I am certainly writing this article with his help. Secondly, and most importantly, there is basically nothing to be done about our close relationship.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Tinker is my mind!
Yes, what I tried to describe here is quite a natural activity of my mind, which I am sure you can relate to. You also have your Mr. Tinker (‘thinker’) or Mr. Smarty, don’t you? Our minds are difficult to ignore, as they have something to say and comment about everything, whether it is useful or totally useless to us! Our minds are so engaging that the majority of us have perfectly adjusted with following in this relationship without understanding what it actually is…we function on ‘autopilot’. In a way, we have mastered the art of mindless living!
Let me bring you back to my story for a moment. When listening and communicating with Mr. Tinker all the time, I totally miss out on everything else… Doesn’t it happen that you pay no attention to your bodily sensations in the morning, barely recall what you ate for the breakfast and how did it taste, you do not realize how you drove to work, let alone noticing what you could have seen while driving, and you ruminate on ‘what could I have done better or differently’ for several hours instead of paying attention to what is happening at that very moment? This is what I refer to here as ‘mindless living’ – being too much absorbed in your mind, and too little present in what is happening to and around you at each present moment.
So, why would I even write about it in a sport performance blog?
Well, because our mind also has a tendency to be busy and distractive and overbearing when we do sports. Thinking back to my past in competitive sports, I remember that Mr. Tinker just loved playing the Drama-Queen when I least needed it. There are doubts, fears, irrelevant thoughts, memories and expectations, which all grabs a part of your attention that is so needed in other places. I am sure that irrespective of the sports you are playing, it would be nice if you could focus on the task at hand instead of being caught up in your mind, right? Here is a funny commercial that very well shows why it doesn’t always work out this way…
Hence, being stuck in one’s mind is a problem and being mindful would be the solution. MINDFULNESS, the art of being in the present moment, is of great importance in sports (some interesting material here and here). We have touched upon it in our blog too – Camilo Sáenz M. explored the topic of mindfulness and flow experiences in one of his previous articles.
I will certainly come back to the topic of mindfulness in my next post. Today though, my idea was to tell you a story of mindless living and to make you think about it… All I want is to make you observe your day and your sporting experience, noticing what your mind is doing and noticing how much or how little are you involved with that guy (or maybe girl) in your head. Are you being mindless too often?