I heard the phrase ‘sucking the joy out of now’ last week and it’s really stuck with me. The ability to fall into over-thinking, to sink into negativity, to fail to appreciate the positive in any given situation, to hold onto resentment, seems to be an inherent part of the human condition and I’m as guilty as anyone in allowing it to happen. Whether in a personal context or in the workplace, our propensity to ‘suck the joy out of now’ can be so damaging to our “en-joy-ment”.

How do we do it?

The uncomfortable truth is that it’s all too easy to partake of this destructive pastime without even realising it. For me, it happens when I let my thinking take over, when thinking becomes over-thinking. I start fretting about trying to get the most out of something or worrying that the moment I’m supposed to be savouring won’t last long enough, or it won’t be here tomorrow. Ironically, ‘sucking the joy out of now’ can so easily start with good intentions but is ultimately detrimental to our experience.

It is also the case that by over-thinking, we can manifest negativity: whenever we’re trying to find fault, we always can and thus, usually will. In any situation where we ‘suck the joy out of now’, we’ll find the bad rather than the good, triggering a negative reaction in us and in all those around us. It’s a nasty contagion that can easily infect a team, or even an entire organisation if it’s allowed to take hold.

What’s the solution?

On a personal level, the key for me is just to experience and feel the moment and stop myself from over-thinking. It’s about finding a connection with myself, with others and with my surroundings. In these moments, time stands still somehow. Minutes can feel like hours, with no rushing and no fear.

As leaders, we need to be able to master ourselves in this way too, even when there is pressure building. This ability to maintain equilibrium by being ‘in the moment’ reminds me of the famous poem If by Rudyard Kipling – “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs” – and is a very effective way of controlling both our own energy as well as that of our wider team.

Reap the benefits

Once you can tap into this skill, you’ll discover the many wider benefits too:

  • In moments of calm, it is easier to hear your own inner voice (your intuition), which always gets drowned out by over-thinking (aka our intellect, our ego)
  • The ability to sit and just ‘be’, to choose to do nothing, to think nothing, can open up creativity and reveal hitherto hidden solutions to even the knottiest problem (the Japanese call it boketto, and you can read more about it here).
  • By consciously slowing down the pace at which you live and think, you can actually find increased efficiency and productivity. If you don’t believe us, this blogprovides seven reasons why slowing down to speed up works.

This Bank Holiday weekend could be the perfect time to experiment. Hopefully you’ll be stepping away from work and spending time with loved ones, and I urge you to embrace each moment and resist any temptation to slip into over-thinking. Even if your plans are derailed, the weather disappoints or someone rubs you up the wrong way, open your mind and connect with others and your surroundings with positivity. Then, when you return to work on Tuesday, try to maintain the same equilibrium. I know I will be!

Let’s start something new!

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