Part 2 - I think, therefore I 'search'

We search.

We have access to so much - particularly here in Australia. Information is constantly at our fingertips, we can ‘Google it’.  We have around the clock access to an ever-increasing variety of products and services – even virtual ones! 

We search for what will answer questions we have at home. We search for answers to questions we have in our work. We search for partners. We search for experiences. We search and search and search for meaning.

It would seem that anything is within reach, if we search for it, and strive hard enough to obtain it. Indeed, we explored striving and stress as Part 1 of this blog series. We looked at how our tendencies for constant striving mean we often miss opportunities to balance striving with stillness.

In Part 2 will explore the second and related challenge we experience. How our incessant searching causes struggling in our lives, and puts our wellbeing and performance out of balance.

A Digital Technology Thought leader and dear friend, Simon Waller, talks about this phenomenon and uses a metaphor that searching in an age where information and experience are in abundant supply is like "trying to take a drink from a fire hose" - which is an obvious struggle!

The volume and speed of our searching can become mind boggling. Case in point - Google the word 'search' and you'll get 14,740,000,000 results in an impressive 0.54 seconds. We experience the struggle of searching in a number of ways, including the following fundamental struggles:

  1. Constant investigation into what we need now that we don't have, or

  2. Frequent examination into ways we can avoid something happening in the future that we don't want to happen.

As a result, we spend our time

  • searching for what will bring us happiness, which leads us to

  • struggle with the torrent that searching creates, such that we

  • strive desperately to obtain what we feel increasingly desperate to grasp, which means we often,

  • miss opportunities to savour what is already here in our present moment.

 

I think, therefore I search

Just like striving isn't all bad, searching has it's role to play too. Searching is human nature. Searching captures our innate curiosity. Searching capitalises on the human spirit of exploration. However, when searching - just like striving - is out of balance with other qualities of engaging, learning and understanding, our life feels out of whack. There are balancing practices for us to engage with - and one such practice is Savouring.

 

Balancing searching with savouring

When we assume all the good things are out there for us to find, if we know where to search, we may overlook the opportunity to savour what we value that is already and always within us and available to us. When we spend our time searching, we fall out of practice savouring what is already here. When we search for information, we may not savour or trust in what we already know. When we search for products or services that will improve our life, we may miss the opportunity to savour and find contentment with what we already have.

I think, therefore, I savour

Balancing searching with savouring can start by investing a little time and effort each day with the process of tuning mindfully into what we experience, and what we are grateful for.

Need an example? Try savouring part of your daily routine

Choose to mindfully appreciate one thing you do each day - exactly for what it is, without needing to search for something to add to the experience.

Example - Morning Coffee Routine:

When you order your morning coffee (or insert an alternative beverage of choice), actually stop to savour it as you drink it. What we usually do is automate the experience behaviourally, and then search for new things our attention can be consumed by.

Ever walked down the street drinking your morning coffee while also making a call using your hands free so you can send off that email response quickly as well? 

This brief example might sound extreme to some, but more likely it is quite normal for many.

Don't fall into the trap of searching for things to add to a routine moment like your morning coffee. You owe it to yourself - particularly if you live in Melbourne where our coffee is legendary - to savour the simple pleasure of your morning cuppa.

Savour your routine coffee tomorrow.

Give yourself a few minutes to just smell and sip your coffee - savour the experience. Your mind will undoubtedly get involved. It will feel like a dog pulling on a leash as your mind tugs you here and there - searching for things to think about and add to the moment. As best you can, tell your mind to 'heel', and return to your next sniff and slurp.

 

Need one more hit of the search button?

If you must go on one final search before you commit to some savouring practice, take a look at the positive psychology literature because it is filled with evidence linking savouring, gratitude, and mindfulness of the present to improved functioning and wellbeing. 

Some tips include

  • Savouring your efforts and the fruits of your labour. Congratulate yourself daily on the effort you put into engaging, learning and making progress on important areas of your life. Research shows that making a habit of savouring by tuning into where your efforts go and the learning and progress you make are key ingredients for staying motivated, focused, and on track with what matters to you most.

  • Practice acceptance and find perspective. Acknowledge that you will not always succeed in your attempts to savour. You will likely get swept up striving and searching, and stressing and struggling. Accept that balancing searching with savouring will be a constant and dynamic process. A process that requires mindfulness. When we are more mindful, we we can accept that getting off track happens, we can find new perspectives to learn from, which helps to bring us back into balance.

  • Share positive experiences and valuable information with others. Sharing with others helps us to savour. As a bi-product, it also helps us mindfully engage in important relationships, which fosters trust and giving.

  • More tips at your fingertips in this Happify infographic.