Between text messages, facebook alerts, new emails alerts … even phone calls from our pocket, everything is built to distract us. Everything vies for our attention.
These distractions prevent me from being in the moment. Impacting my relationships. My time with the person that I’m with suffers\.
The only way I could keep my relationships strong was to create my mental bento box.
Some people call it compartmentalization.
Compartmentalization is simply to divide or separate items into isolated compartments. For me, it’s my mental bento box. One compartment for work. Another for writing. A third for family. One for friends.
In my 20’s and into my 30’s, my thinking was the melange of disparate thoughts, each focused on a different activity. It wasn’t hard for something to completely distract me from whatever I was doing. Having dinner with friends? Suddenly I have an idea how to solve a work-problem and I would go and work it.
During my mid-life crisis period, I realized how horribly my life was out of balance. My mind perceived any random thought as important, gave it priority, and I acted upon it.
My relationships suffered for it.
One day I asked myself a simple question. When I’m with someone, what is the priority? Any seemingly random thought that enters my mind? Or my relationship with that person?
To me, the answer was simple.
That’s when I knew I had to create my mental bento box. To put walls up around different areas of my life.
Oddly enough, it was during a podcast with Tony Robbins that he shared something that defined why I created the mental bento box. He calls it the Law of Familiarity.
Tony Robbins said, “The law of familiarity states that if you’re around someone (or something) long enough, you tend to take them for granted.”
I understand that my time is valuable. If I’m going to spend time with someone, it’s because I think they are worthy of my time.
But I also understand that their time is valuable. They could be doing 100 different things rather than be with me at that moment.
The last thing I want to do is take any of my relationships for granted. Whether I’m at a family function or having dinner with one person. I want to be present. I want to be in that moment. Do I really want to be distracted because someone posted a video of pelvic thrusting cats?
Everything stays pigeoned holed. Until I need it again or need to deal with it again.
But sometimes, something bleeds over from one box to another. A problem that has festered. An unknown crisis popped up. Then I become distracted. Something is really irritating me. Fighting for control over my thoughts.
Then I ask myself, “Is this something I can resolve with right now?”
If the answer is yes, I take care of it.
If the answer is no, I put it back into its box. Deal with it tomorrow.
Bil Kean, the cartoonist for Family Circle, once said, ““Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.”
It’s a present that I refuse to squander.