When standing in the London underground, there is a lovely voice which calls out “Mind the gap!” reminding passengers to watch the space between the carriage and the platform before getting on the Tube. Apparently , there have been a lot of problems with people falling in the London underground, or at least enough to warrant the repetitive voice calling out “Mind the gap!” several times an hour.
I’ve thought a lot about this phrase “Mind the gap” and whether your travels take you to London or not, the phrase “Mind the gap” is deep wisdom regardless.
At the center of who we are and all that we do is our attention. 99% of life's success comes from paying attention, and the other 1% is spent in line at the DMV. Many problems could be avoided with an acute dose of mindfulness. How many of us have missed the fuel light coming on in our car and then run out of gas? A bit of attention could have headed off the problem before it occurred. Not to say that vigilant mindfulness is a way to avoid all of life’s problems, but I would say that many of life’s challenges can be made easier with the art of mindfulness.
Every day, at the end of a long school day, my kids vie for my attention. I’ll be honest, there are some afternoons when I’ve been overwhelmed by work, projects, and phone calls,and it’s difficult to focus my attention to their day’s successes. Training my mind to focus, pay attention, and be mindful can be a challenge when I’m in the middle of something else. But I know that my life is more meaningful, richer and more abundant when I am present and listening to my little people.
Mindfulness is not easy, but the short term investment of systematically developing our attention has long term pay offs. The ability to focus on the present moment gives us the gift of joy. Everything we do becomes more important, more lasting and more meaningful because we understand that everything is connected and therefore, everything is important. The brief hug, a kind word to a friend, a moment of silence in the midst of a crazy day, are all significant because they are the moments that make up our lives. And it is in everyday living where joy can be found.
Recently, I’ve been under some stress—my mind constantly comes back to the situation at hand. I can’t change it—it is what it is. It is not something I chose, or can even influence, and therefore it is completely out of my control. But in the midst of this difficult season, I am finding joy in the little things by giving attention to the details of my days. Who can estimate the value of a new book? Freshly painted walls? The crack of a newly opened Diet Coke? My life can be lived fully in the present circumstances and joy can be found as I give attention to the daily moments that are my life.
When we raise our awareness to pay attention, we open ourselves to our limitless possibilities within, the wonders of each day, and the ability to do as Emerson said, to, “Write it on our hearts that every day is the best day of the year.”
So to myself and to you, I quote our British Underground friend and say, “Mind the Gap!”
What would you like to be more mindful of?
What simple joys do you appreciate in your life?
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