Last year, a woman came to the gym very upset over the death of a former colleague. She had jumped a fence at a park while hiking at night and died in a terrible fall leaving a grieving husband, daughter and family. I couldn’t stop thinking of how often I’ve heard of one action that changed an entire family.
“Sometimes, something happens, and in a minute the world is changed. After that, you’re the person on the other side of that minute.”
― Frederick Weisel, Teller
One fast Tweet has ruined careers. A quick text causes a car accident. You shoot the wrong email to your client. Your brain is literally rewiring itself through the beauty of technology.
Consider the research:
New studies suggest that dopamine regulates the motivation to act. Recent observations indicate that the brain is more active when people are anticipating a reward rather than receiving one. This is because we are wired to seek, and to really enjoy the thrill of the hunt.
The Internet can ensnare you in a dopamine loop since it makes the process of reward-seeking so quick and easy. Before you know it, you have several tabs open in your Internet browser so you can monitor and engage with your various social media channels while you try to get some work done. Over time, you may add more channels and/or check them more frequently.
This all starts sounding a lot like addiction, doesn’t it?
Well, you have to remember that the thing between you and the Internet is a neurotransmitter called dopamine.
That’s why a well timed Pause is actually revolutionary. It can change the course of history.
Before any meeting I facilitate, we begin with The Pause. We breathe and get ourselves into the room because our minds are literally somewhere else. We focus our attention on:
OUR BREATH: The inhale energizes your system, the exhale calms it.
OUR BODY: I do a short practice to ease built up tension and calm participants’ hyped physical “systems.”
OUR INTENTION: Why are we here? It’s helpful to look at our larger vision to lend a little motivation and inspiration. Why the heck are we doing this work? Why does it matter? This impacts how we listen.
OUR FOCUS: What is the purpose of the meeting? What is each of our roles?
The Pause cultivates your self-awareness so you can ask,
- Is now the time?
- Is this the place?
- Am I the one to take this action/speak/tweet/post?
The Pause allows you to choose. It calms your system which operates on fight/flight/freeze mode.
Notice what happens if you practice the Pause for the rest of today. Before you click on an email, a text, an article online, Pause.
Shift your attention to your breath. Notice the heaviness of your jaw and shoulders. Breathe. Ask yourself if this is the action or inaction you want to take. Notice what happens.