I keep hearing radio reports about recent studies proving that people who spend less time on Social Media are happier and more fulfilled.
This implies that by spending so much time looking at other people’s lives, our own life becomes less enjoyable.
However, I also think that just in general, even without engaging in social media, there is a way in which we relate to our own lives that keeps us at an arm’s length from the real sensual enjoyment available to us.
So often we live our lives as if we aren’t even in them.
It is like our chattering mind that is constantly evaluating and judging our every move actually lives outside of our bodies and souls, and it watches everything we are doing in order to create a shareable anecdote about our experience.
How often even before an experience is halfway done have we already started to form an anecdote or story about what is happening, preparing and polishing it so we can verbally share it with others, or sculpt in into a Facebook post or a Tweet (or whatever other forms of social media you use that I barely understand)?
The challenge here is that our life is really just so much more complex then an anecdote,
Whether it’s a Facebook post, Tweet or tedious, rambling story we share while half-drunk at a party, our actual life is much more nuanced, rich and delicate then anything that can be shared in words.
And maybe this is how it is meant to be.
Maybe the truth is that our life experiences are really only meant for the consumption of one person: ourselves.
Yes, we need to share with others in order to learn, grow, develop empathy and feel vulnerable and connected with our world—but we can never share the whole thing. Most of what we experience is impossible to articulate.
And this is just fine.
It is more then fine—it is perfect.
What this really means is that we need to stop trying so hard. Those imaginary conversations we are all having with people we know, or don’t know, in our own minds, are taking us away from really experiencing the moment.
Many times the way we experience the moment is by almost narrating it as it goes along.
And many times our communication with others is telling our stories of our past over and over again, re-enacting them as if we are a character in our own play or movie.
Life happens now, and there is so much to experience in life now, but these experiences are hard to access when we are busy watching the experience, as if we are an outsider to our life, judging and evaluating it, as if it was a movie.
Our life is not a movie, a Facebook post or a Tweet.
Our life is sensation, not thought.
And the good news is there is a lot of pleasant sensation to experience.
(Of course, there is a lot of unpleasant sensations to experience, too, but often the mind makes them out to be much worse then they actually are).
What would it look like for even one day, or even one hour to turn off the inner commentary? To just see what we see, feel what we feel, sit with a quiet mind taking in our experiences in a way that we will never be able to communicate?
Will the experience feel emptier in the knowing that you will never share it because it has no words? Or will it feel richer, because it will be just yours, and the pressure to make something more out of the simple moment has been lifted?
We don’t owe anyone the currency of knowing the ins and outs of our internal or external experience.
Instead we owe ourselves the opportunity to revel in the richness of our experiences, free of the extra baggage of constantly trying to form words around a quality of the moment that can never really be expressed.
This moment is yours.
It is for you.
All you have to do is show up and really be in it.
The quieter the mind, the better.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Mislav Marohnić at Flickr