MultitaskingI have been teaching Happiness 101 as part of my private practice since April ’09 and only a month ago did I learn that former Harvard professor Tal Ben-Shahar released a DVD called “Happiness 101”! I just got it in the mail the other day after ordering it from PBS. It’s a great little video. In it, Tal gives a wonderful analogy of the downside of multitasking. First, think of two of your favorite songs. Go ahead, this is part of the exercise.
Please don’t proceed until you have your two songs in mind.
These two songs that you have now thought of your two songs, please rate them on a scale from 1-10 about how much you like them. Likely your top song is a 10 and your second fav is pretty close to that (a 9 or a 10). Take a few more seconds to think of how your songs sound. ‘Maybe even hum or sing a few bars from each one. Listening to each song will give you a Happiness Boost (Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness). Think of how much you would enjoy that.
Now, imagine playing both songs at the same time. Playing a 10 song and a 9 song together does not yield a Happy experience of 19. Your two favorite songs played at the same time sounds more like NOISE, plummeting its listening pleasure to a 2 or 3 (at best).
Take this simple analogy and apply it to your own life. What are the things you enjoy doing most? For instance, it might be spending time with your children and reading. Trying to do both at the same time significantly lowers the experience of each activity. A lot of people are texting while doing other things. How much are they really enjoying these combined activities? Our current world is built around multi-tasking, especially at work. However, I am sure with a little effort you could find ways to do less multi-tasking and use mindfulness to fully enjoy the present moment.

Leave a Reply