The Mindful Midlife Crisis

Episode 114--The Quantifiable Consequences of Living Mindlessly

November 29, 2023 Billy Lahr
The Mindful Midlife Crisis
Episode 114--The Quantifiable Consequences of Living Mindlessly
Show Notes Transcript

In this week’s episode, Billy and Matt reflect on mindlessness (aka NOT being mindful!), revealing its impact on relationships, social interactions, and work performance. They share personal experiences and, more importantly, provide simple tools to help you combat mindlessness. They’re also extending a digital detox challenge to you that will help you set technology boundaries. This digital detox challenge will help you improve stress management, productivity, and overall well-being through less mindless doom scrolling! 


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Billy:  Coming up on The Mindful Midlife Crisis

When we find ourselves in these ambiguous endings to relationships and they seem to come out of nowhere, it's really hard to accept that. But then there are those moments when the communication is as clear as day, but the other person isn't willing to accept or handle that rejection. And listen, I've been there and I think mindlessness leads to a certain degree of emotional immaturity and that's when those weaknesses we talked about in the past few episodes like no fault are really magnified and it ends up making a mess of things. So the quantifiable damage of mindlessness leads to not having the ability to recognize signs of disinterest or misinterpreting signals of interest, which results in awkward moments or unreciprocated feelings.

Billy:  Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. I'm your host, Billy Lahr, an educator, personal trainer, meditation teacher and overthinker who talks to experts who specialize in social and emotional learning. Mindfulness, physical and emotional wellness, cultural awareness, finances, communication, relationships, dating, and parenting all in an effort to help us better reflect, learn, and grow so we can live a more purpose-filled life.


Take a deep breath, embrace the present, and journey with me through The Mindful Midlife Crisis.


Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm your host, Billy Lahr. Thank you for tuning in, wherever you are. The purpose of this show is to help you navigate the complexities and possibilities of life’s second half, using my NoBS GPS guide to finding more purpose and passion in your life because I am sick and tired of people telling you to follow your passions, because that is complete and utter nonsense. Purpose and passion are destinations, not departure zones, so if you need some help navigating which direction you want your life to go, schedule a free exploration call with me by visiting www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com or click on the link in the show notes, where I provide even more goodies for you. By practicing intentional and mindful living over the last 10 years, I've learned how to better navigate the trials, tribulations and successes of my own midlife crisis. Being more intentional and mindful has helped me process my ruminating thoughts, anxiety and stress in a much healthier way, by reducing my emotional reactivity and impulsive behavior, which, in turn, has helped me improve my relationships and communication with others, as well as be more consistent, disciplined, patient and productive in meeting my goals. I'll be showing you the same skills, strategies and resources I use in my own personal life, based on years of research and experimentation to find a bit more calm amidst the chaos. And, trust me, there's still days when I'm a hot mess, but my hope is that by sharing my experiences, as well as my experiences and my guests, you'll see that you are not alone in your experience. So if you're looking for a little more direction and clarity in your life, visit www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com. Schedule that free exploration, call with me and let me be your GPS to finding more purpose and passion in life. And now it's time for my favorite part of the show, because once again I'm joined by my best good pal, the always entertaining, the one, the only a Matt Hazard. Matt, what do you have for us today?


Matt: It was 20 years ago today. Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. They've been going in and out of style, but they're guaranteed to raise a smile. So let me introduce to you the adjunct for all these years, sergeant Pepper's Loliance Club Band.


Billy:  Oh yeah, is that in dedication to the new Beatles song? That's out, it's like exactly why.


Matt: Yes, there's a new Beatles video out today, or probably a couple weeks ago by the time you guys are all hearing this, but yeah, I was very excited to see that it's a cool video. I don't know the song yet, so I was going to sing that one, but and it doesn't have the juice that the one that I just sang does. So, but yeah, this is my little Beatles tribute today.


Billy:  Yeah, very nice, very nice. Did you know that they mentioned my name in that song?


Matt: Yes, Billy, well, Billy Shears yes.


Billy:  See, I hear it, Billy Larr, I think it's a British accent.


Matt: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think it's.


Billy:  British accent it's actually Billy Larr, but yeah, yeah, yeah, some people think it's Billy Shears, but you know I actually think it's me Once again. I think delusion is part of one of my weaknesses. It's good, yeah, yeah, yeah. So I wanted to follow up with you again because I think it's important that we continue talking about hey, are you following through with some of these things? How is your mindful coffee drinking going? Are you continuing on with that practice?


Matt: Yes, yeah, I've been doing that every day still, except for on the weekends, but I'm still taking my time with that. I've actually found an introspective moment to before my lunch usually, that I've been able to take a few minutes before I start eating lunch, where I kind of break away from my desk, sit for a few minutes with my breath. So I've been trying to add to that and just stacking, stacking a little bit of time and it's still only just a couple minutes. I don't have a single length of time yet that I've been really good about taking 10 or 15 minutes to be mindful, which is something that I probably could do during the day, but I just haven't yet.


Billy:  But again, you're finding moments throughout the day. So look at it, it started with that coffee moment and now you're like okay, I think, now that I know this is kind of approachable or this accessible, maybe I can do this during lunch too. So now you've got a couple times in there. Well done, I am very, very proud of you. Have you had any? You're welcome, fella. Have you had any conversations with your wife or your kids about any new awarenesses that you've developed since taking the Four Temperaments personality test?


Matt: So I have talked to my wife about the test itself and taking it and you know it was more or less kind of a confirmation of like these were my answers. Does this line up with your perception of me? And largely it does. So there's that I haven't had a conversation with her about, like the analysis that we've done subsequently. Now I have talked to my kids a little bit differently since, doing that with more intention, I think, around my results where it's like, oh yeah, I need to remember to exercise patience because that's not naturally a skill for me. It has impacted me in small ways with my kids but yeah, I did discuss it with my wife.


Billy:  Awesome, awesome I love hearing even these small ways are what add up over time? I think people think that it's the big changes. No, it's actually these little changes that accumulate over time. That's why I keep using the stock market analogy, because you know, the stock market goes up and down. It goes up and down, but when you look at history, the stock market has essentially gained over the long period of time. Maybe individual stocks go up and go down and those fluctuate significantly, but when you look at it as the stock market over time, when you invest in the stock market you generally win. And when you invest in yourself, even if it's just these small moments, you win. And you know this podcast is all about the benefits of living more mindfully and living more intentionally. So today we're going to flip the script a little bit and instead we are going to talk about mindlessness, specifically the quantifiable losses people may experience if they do not live intentionally and mindfully. So today we're going to talk about those quantifiable negative consequences and then mad hazard. At the end of the show I'm going to talk about a month long challenge that I'm going to extend to you and to all of our listeners and to myself, because really, this is coming out of a need that I have, but then, in hearing other people, they also have this same need. It's going to be something that everyone's going to benefit from, but it's also going to be really, really, really hard to follow along with this month long challenge. So I'm excited. Everybody stay tuned for that. Are you excited for that, matt Hazard? I am so excited. I'm jazzed. This makes me wish we still did YouTube videos because I know that I was animated. We were very dancey right there in that little segment. Okay, so first of all, let's define what we mean by mindlessness. Living mindlessly refers to going through life on autopilot, without conscious awareness of the present moment. That's essentially the opposite of the definition of mindfulness. It's a state where our actions, thoughts and emotions become automatic and routine, often driven by external demands and distractions rather than by conscious choice. And now some of you might be thinking yeah, but Billy, you're all about the structure and the routine, the consistency. That's a big component to the no BS GPS guide to purpose and passion. So are you telling us to live mindlessly? No, I'm not snarky imitated voice that I just use right there, because the routines and structures and consistent behaviors that I'm talking about are all intentional. They are intentional, you have carved those into your day so that you can be more purposeful and mindful. But when you just do things because you're doing things without any real intentionality around them, like doom scrolling, then guess what? You're living mindlessly. And living mindlessly can manifest in various ways. For instance, excessive screen time, mindless eating, multitasking, which is not a thing. All right, multitasking is not a thing. It's called switch tasking. We can talk about that in another episode Guilty. Yeah, yeah, listen, same here, same here. And even the constant state of busyness are common signs of living mindlessly. So that's why I often tell people to hit pause on your day. That's why, when I talked mad, it's like, hey, where can you incorporate that mindful moment of coffee? And now you're including that in your lunch and it sounds like it's slowing down your day a little bit more and it's making you more aware of what's going on, even what's coming up for you or what needs to be done. Is that fair to say?


Matt: Yeah, I think it's just a nice little reset point of the day where stresses can kind of go up or down throughout the day. You can have just finished a task and you have maybe, or you have a meeting or something in the afternoon, and just that little reset where you're not carrying the things from earlier in the day into the later part of the day.


Billy:  Yeah, it reminds me very much of if you guys go back to the Meditate and Mingle session, which is episode 109, and Debbie is on there and Debbie talks about how mindfulness is like hydrating your mind, and it sounds like that's when you say the reset. That's kind of what I think of is just like you're hydrating the mind, you're resetting the mind, and that's important because the quantifiable negative effects of mindlessness are numerous, such as decreased productivity, increased stress, poor mental and physical health and even strange relationships. So let's tackle a few of these negative effects. We're going to be taking a look at a few studies here. A study by the American Psychological Association found that mindless eating is associated with overeating, leading to weight gain and health issues. So there's something called intuitive eating and that's something that I try to recommend to people. Listening to your body we often talk about that somatic experience. Your body will tell you when you need vegetables. Your body will tell you when it needs hydration, so it's actually taking time to listen to those things. Another study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology states that the rise in mindless smartphone usage is linked to increased symptoms of depression and anxiety and honestly, I think this is the biggest hindrance for me when it comes to managing my anxiety is I am just overly consuming social media. I know that I need to be more intentional around that. Man Hazard, you're nodding your head.


Matt: Yes, yeah, so both of these last two things. So I mindlessly eat all the time. That's my biggest struggle with my weight and my phone usage. I actually have all the apps that track your phone usage and tell you when you're on it too much and I'm finding myself like, oh, I got to check the app to see how much I've used my phone today. On my phone, I'm like what am I doing? Like why is this happening?


Billy:  Yeah, it's the ultimate catch-22 right there. And then there's another study published in the Journal of Psychological Science, and they found that individuals who are less mindful tend to experience more daily hassles and stressors. These stressors can take a toll on our emotional well-being, leading to irritability and conflicts in our relationships. Truly, you have a dizzying intellect. Wait till I get started when was I? Mindlessness, yes, mindlessness. A fourth study in 2018 was.


Matt: I think we executed that to perfection, right there.


Billy:  I'll tell you what. I'll tell you what. If anybody knows where that little excerpt was from, if you could tell me what movie that's from, shoot me a message at Billy@mindfulmidlifecrisis.com that's an email or you can go to Instagram @mindful_midlife_crisis. Where did that come from? Just let us know, like I said, who's listening, who interacts with us. We hope that that it brought a smile to your face, because we're laughing about it. Anyway, where was I? That's right. Mindlessness Okay, this episode has delved into mindlessness, all right. A fourth study in 2018 that was published in Emotion, which publishes significant contributions to the study of emotion, highlighted the connection between a mindlessness and empathy. This research found that individuals who are less mindful are less likely to pick up on social cues and emotional signals from their partners. This lack of empathy can lead to misunderstandings, miscommunications and, ultimately, damaged relationships. Now I have heard many of my female friends lament about men's inability to pick up on social cues, especially in dating situations, and having recently been rejected by someone I was interested in was absolutely no fun, but I like to think I like to think anyway that I handled that situation and I handled myself appropriately. Now, 10 years ago, was I in a similar situation and did I handle that situation appropriately? I did not. I did not, and that's actually what led me into that downward spiral that I detail in episode three. So people want more information about that. They can go all the way back to episode three. I also had a similar situation happen to me about a year and a half ago, and when we find ourselves in these ambiguous endings to relationships and they seem to come out of nowhere, it's really hard to accept that. But then there are those moments when the communication is as clear as day, but the other person isn't willing to accept or handle that rejection. And listen, I've been there and I think mindlessness leads to a certain degree of emotional immaturity and that's when those weaknesses we talked about in the past few episodes like no fault are really magnified and it ends up making a mess of things. So the quantifiable damage of mindlessness leads to not having the ability to recognize signs of disinterest or misinterpreting signals of interest, which results in awkward moments or unreciprocated feelings. Eventually, we're going to do an episode on how to navigate rejection, and that episode isn't going to be a pleasant one to record because I'm going to have to hold up a mirror and do a lot of talking to myself in that one. But you know what? That's why awareness is crucial to our growth, because without it, once again, we're left with mindlessness.


Matt: And let's just make sure, billy, that when you are in that moment and you're holding that mirror up to yourself and you're dealing with rejection, and that you're kind to yourself in that moment, because maybe when that happened, you probably weren't, and that's what mindfulness really is about, right.


Billy:  Yeah, you know what.


Matt: Thank you for that reminder, fella, I appreciate that, yeah, and I'll be there for that too, when we're talking about it in the moment. I'll help you be kind to yourself.


Billy:  You'll be my emotional support animal, because that's what you are, you're just a great big grizzly bear and listen.


Matt: I've said millions of times that you give the best hugs, so just having these conversations feels like a warm hug from you, so I appreciate that you are not the first person to call me a bear, and you might be the first straight person to call me a bear, so that's good, thank you.


Billy:  Well, that's because I love you. I love you in all ways. So, all right, I don't even know where that's going. Once again, we've dealt into more mindlessness. All right. So mindlessness, as we've said, has an impact on our social lives. It has an impact on our relationships, but it could also have an impact on our performance at work. Research from Harvard Business Review shows that multitasking, which is a classic mindless behavior, can reduce productivity by up to 40%, and the World Health Organization reports that stress, often exacerbated by a lack of mindfulness, costs companies billions of dollars annually in lost productivity and health care expenses. I think about all the times when I have a really great idea and I'm trying to hold it in my head and then my phone will buzz and then I'm completely distracted. Or the number of times when I need to check something on my phone, like I got an email but then I see another notification. Then I go to that and I'm like, oh, I forgot to do something. So I've been trying to write things down more.


Matt: I am so bad about that. Like when I pick my phone up, the first thing I'm like, all right, I got to go check Amazon or check the internet for something, and there's always like five notifications and I'm like, oh, what's that? And then I like a look and I've completely forgotten immediately what I was doing, which goes back to the joke that we tried to land earlier. Where was I? Right, right, exactly.


Billy:  And this is why I stress cultivating a mindfulness practice. And again, cultivating a mindfulness practice. It's not easy. You're not going to be 100% perfect at it, but, like we've talked about, there are little ways where we can incorporate this practice and it just brings a little bit more awareness throughout the day. It brings a little bit more of a pause throughout the day, because mindlessness may very well be sabotaging your life and keeping you from living a more complete life full of rich experiences. But here's the thing we're not just going to leave you with no plan in place to combat mindlessness. That would be rude of us. So here are a few things you can do to avoid living mindlessly or to live less mindlessly and just to be a bit more mindful throughout your day. So, first of all, say what's your plan. First of all, set clear intentions. Start your day with clear intentions about what you want to achieve and how you want to feel about those achievements by the end of the day. This sets a positive tone for the rest of your day. And you know what would help with this? A chips list. And if you're like, what the heck is a chips list? It's not just Doritos and Fritos, it's actually something that I talk about in episode 83, where I explain why I prefer a chips list over a to-do list. So you can check that out. Also, you can practice mindfulness meditation. So we're hitting the big ones here. Dedicate a few minutes each day to meditation, simply focusing on your breath or a specific mindfulness practice, like the coffee, or maybe it's the sounds around you and you're just tuning into the sounds around you. This helps you become more present, it grounds you and, of course, you're always welcome to attend our weekly Meditate and Mingle sessions. If you go to www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com and click on the Meditate and Mingle banner at the top, you can get more information about how to join us for those. We've talked many a times about mindful eating and mindful drinking. Matt Hazard shared his drinking coffee mindfully habit in the morning. You've also talked about being a little bit more present with your food during lunch, and as much as you're a connoisseur of coffee, you are also a savvy chef in the kitchen. So are you taking time to savor your food by eating slowly and paying attention to the flavors and textures?


Matt: It really depends on the current level of ravenous hunger that I am facing. So if I have approached dinner and I have appropriately just lightly snacked during the day and I'm not like a dog waiting at the bowl, I can take my time with it and I've tried to be more thoughtful with that. I am definitely too fast an eater and it's a habit from childhood, with the table full of big family brothers and if you didn't get to the food fast and if you didn't get to the food so that is a habit I've fought with for most of my life. So I try and battle against that and some days I'm more successful than others.


Billy:  I wonder if taking more time you know, like I said, those five minutes throughout the day to just simply be present with what is Would allow your brain and your stomach to communicate with each other and be like hey, I could use a snack right now, just something to tide me over, so that I'm not so ravenous by the time Dinner comes around. So that might be something to consider too, and maybe just keeping tabs on when do you feel Like a snack would come in handy. It might be the same time every day, but maybe it's not. Maybe it's just, oh Just around this time here. This would be a good time and just having something healthy nearby. So being intentional around that, just saying, okay, I'm going to have a bowl of raspberries or a bowl of grapes, I'm gonna bring those in and have those Handy so that I can snack on something healthy throughout the day, so that when dinner rolls around, I'm not eating like a ravenous dog again. That's just taking those five minutes, because a lot of people talk about the importance of getting into this flow state. Right, and Flow states are great. The only thing is, when you come out of that flow state, it's kind of like coming out of a euphoria when you have this crash. So then, if you have that crash, but then you go into the next thing, the next thing probably isn't going to have the same Gusto, is not gonna have the same energy. So, coming out of that flow state and being like, okay, rather than transitioning into the next task, I'm going to sit with. What is? What do I need right now? I'm thirsty, I need to hydrate. You know what a snack might come in handy too, and I've actually been sitting for the last two hours. Maybe just getting up and going to the fridge and grabbing something might be good for me too. Or just doing a walk around the block and I get it. If you're working in a company, you're working in a cubicle, maybe you can't do those things, but maybe just walking around the office space just to kind of get Some movement, just to stretch your body a little bit, those might be ways to be more intentional around, allowing your brain and your stomach and the rest of your body to all communicate with each other, because your mind is in overdrive with tasks. So go from doing mode to being mode. Is that something that you might be able to implement here in the next week and we can check back?


Matt: Yeah, another great thing for me to remember is because I often, most frequently, I cook dinner in our house. So I get from work, reconnect with the kids after work and then I feel like I'm right into making dinner, right into getting all of the food ready and everything like that. And one thing to remember Before you eat before I get to that point where I'm ravenously hungry at this delicious food that I've cooked and I'm smelling, and If I slam like a tall glass of water Before I start cooking, I find that that can really help with that ravenous appetite, like the water kind of can fill a little bit of that need, where I can have a little bit more patience to get to the food which I've had some success with. That I just forget to do it all the time. But, yeah, that all of those sounds like good ideas for ways to cope with that.


Billy:  Yeah, yeah, and so then I mean it. Now it just becomes a matter of taking idea and turn it into into practice. So another thing that you can do you know we talked about with these regular breaks, right is you know the short walk, practice deep breathing. But it's also good to do an emotional inventory so you know what thoughts, feelings and emotions are present before you launch into whatever your next meeting is or you go into your big presentation. You want to know what, what you're sitting with Emotionally, thoughts, feeling. We talked about avoiding multitasking. So just focus on one task at a time and getting better at that, because that'll increase your productivity and reduce stress. You know, when we talk about that chips list, I try. I'm not the best at it, but I'm getting better at just looking at. Okay, this is the one thing I'm working on right now. Oh, but I could do this thing about it take two minutes. No, no, no, no, no. I'm just going to focus on this thing right here, because if I do that thing that takes two minutes, then it might take me down a rabbit hole and that is another two minutes, is another two minutes, another two minutes, and now I'm just wasting time that I could be wasting my focus and energy that could go on that single task. We talk about reflecting and self-awareness, allocating time for reflection. You can consider keeping a journal. But I'll be honest it's good intentioned as I am about keeping a journal, I'm probably never gonna do it. And here's the thing it's a strategy. You can use it, you can try it. The number of times that I've told myself I should really journal more often, and then I don't, you know, here's the thing, maybe it works for you. It's not something that works for me. So having these conversations or just typing things out in terms of the podcast, or having conversations with my therapist, that is a verbal journal for me, because then a lot of times it's a verbal diarrhea. But then the nice thing is that I have someone who can process that with me, and I think that's the benefit of having a coach. That's why, if you want to schedule an exploration call with me, I can help you process through some of those things and again, I'll do that for free. Let's have one together. Now we get to where the challenge comes in. So we're gonna try and create technology boundaries by limiting our screen time, especially on social media and especially our phone at meals. Do you have your phone on with you? Do you have a policy about no phones at the dinner table?


Matt: We do, yeah, so I have it on my person. So if I get a call or whatever, I do look at it so I don't shut it off and keep it away from the table. But I don't randomly scroll anything on the. I don't look at notifications or anything like that while I'm at the table for dinner. I like to be present in that moment or try to be as best as we can.


Billy:  Yeah, yeah. And so this is where we throw down the gauntlet and we extend this challenge to all of you, including Matt, including me. I'm going to do this challenge too, because throughout the month of December, I'll be leading a 30-day digital detox, and you might be thinking that sounds sweet, but don't I need a phone or a computer to sign up? We talked about that before. Yes, that's kind of the catch-22. I'm sorry about that. We're not going for zero-sum right here. We're not trying to reduce it down to zero, but we are trying to reduce our usage. Maybe we're trying to cut it in half. So, yes, you'll also need to check your email from time to time. So this digital detox is more for people like me and Matt Maybe this includes you who are addicted to apps like Instagram and Facebook and LinkedIn and, like for me, dating apps. Our goal is to reduce the amount of time of mindless scrolling we do by reducing our consumption on social media apps. Maybe you're a TikTok fan. Maybe you're a Twitter addict Whatever is calling your name. These days, that mindlessness is getting in the way of you being a better version of yourself, and by giving yourself intentional focus, you'll be able to explore your curiosities and put in the time you need to reflect, learn and grow in all areas of your life. Now, this is something I want to communicate here is very important Consumption is different from creation. But your creation on social media should be connected to your purpose. And if you haven't identified your purpose yet, let's sit down and have a chat. And then here's another thing Creation is different from posting. Okay, it's much different from posting. So don't go thinking that you're a post about your kids or your cats or the Cincinnati Bengals. Winning week after week is a creation, because it's not. That's posting. Go, Bengals. So if you're ready to take on this 30-day digital detox challenge with us, go to www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com and fill out the pop-up form that you see there. The challenge starts December 1, which will give you an opportunity to live more mindfully, and intentionally, just in time for upcoming 2024 challenges. That's right, we're going to incorporate a few challenges in the upcoming year of 2024. So be sure to stay tuned for those as well. And hey, if this episode inspired you to live less mindlessly, please do me a favor and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. If you're looking for which episode to listen to next, go to the website and click on fan faves under the podcast tab. I would also really appreciate it if you would share this episode or any other favorite episode with the people in your life who may find value in them. That, to me, is the biggest compliment you can give to the show. And if you do it on social media, don't forget to tag and follow us as well. Also, remember this progress is not linear. We talked about this before. Our growth looks like the stock market. Some days were up, some days were down, and we may not reap the benefits for a while. But if we play the long game on our consistent, disciplined, patient and self-compassionate, you'll see that your investment in yourself will pay huge dividends over time. Remember, the purpose of this show is to help you navigate the complexities and possibilities of life's second half, and I hope this free and useful information provides some insight that will guide you towards living with more purpose and passion in your life. So for Matt Hazard, that's me this is Billy. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy and loved. 


Take care, friends.


Matt: Ah, goodbye.