This blog post is dedicated to the man who stepped out in front of my car as I drove to work this morning.
As I plan the second Health & Wellbeing day for University of Leicester PhDs, one of the issues I think about is mindfulness. In other blog posts I have prattled on about issues such as the tendency to carry work around with us and the perceived need some people appear to have to work long hours and be ‘switched on’ at all times.
Apparently, there is evidence that workers in Germany produce as much in four days as workers in Britain produce in five days. The reason? A philosophy of work that says work when you are working and your off duty time is your own. So, for example, no personal emails at work and no work emails on your own time.
I find few things more boring than people who harangue anyone who will listen about the benefits of mindfulness. It is a simple concept brought into focus, I believe, by the contemporary obsession with electronics – going through ones day whilst staring at a screen and/or with headphones on. Life is short and very fragile, and many opportunities may be lost to us, from smelling the flowers to meeting a potential life partner.
At this year’s Health & Wellbeing day we will explore topics including coping with change, and experience practices including Tai’Chi. An opportunity to take time out to consider life changes that would benefit both work and play. Whilst last year’s event was a tremendous success I was surprised by one or two delegates who were unable to devote the entire day to the event that had been laid on for them. An extraordinary phenomenon of one or two people who wanted to ‘dip in and out’ of the day; i.e. couldn’t commit the day to this one activity.
The guy who stepped out in front of my car this morning? Well, I braked and swerved violently and managed to avoid hitting him by a matter of a few centimetres. He stepped back on to the footpath raising his hand and apologising. I moved off and then pulled in to the kerb and shut my car off whilst, still shaking, I took some time to recover. Looking round I noticed the pedestrian had walked off. Apparently, oblivious or uncaring of the fact that a different outcome to that split second incident and both our lives could have changed forever.
Life is both short and fragile. Though I do not wish to be a ‘mindfulness bore’, it is worth living in the moment. Perhaps, like our contemporaries in Germany, we may even find we are more productive as a result.