What is a day for?

“There is more to life than its speed.” ~ Gandhi

I’ve always liked this quote. Life is precious, and life is short. I don’t want it to go by in a blur. Everyone is pursuing happiness and freedom, and seemingly working harder and longer as times roll on, but how are we all feeling at the end of a day? Given the amount of motivation, education, effort, and time we throw at the task of feeling happy and getting rid of problems, 24/7, one would think that each day would be better than the one before.

That would mean that today is the best day of your life.

Is it?

If not, happiness and freedom are either impossible, or we’re going about them the wrong way. Buddha concluded the latter and helpfully explained where we were going wrong in his 84,000 teachings.

The perils of multi-tasking

the perils of multitaskingTime Magazine a few years ago did a magazine article on the “perils of multitasking”. It shared “The latest research on how to stay mentally sharp” in a complex (read “over busy”) world. The main conclusions I could glean were that we can drink more coffee to perk up our IQ! Or, if that fails, we can take Ritalin…

I do like a cup of coffee in the morning, but I think the mental sharpness it confers is rather limited and temporary compared to the magic of meditation, which makes our brain bigger in all the right places.

Apparently, multitasking, for all its seeming efficiency, exacts a heavy toll on the quality of our output (and life). The article gave the example of a film producer who was always doing five things at once, wherever she is — whether in the office, on the go, even in the elevator — from the moment she rises ‘til bedtime. She is “fidgety, demanding, chattering” and tied to her gadgets – on the phone, typing notes, glancing at incoming email, motioning signals to her assistant, firing off an instant message. While driving, she is talking, drinking coffee, and checking her Smartphone for a number. Most of us seem to be like that these days, to a greater or lesser degree. Huge amounts of time are now lost to distraction.

But why? What are we actually trying to accomplish? This woman admitted to the journalist that she has noticed some drawbacks to her multi-tasking, such as impatience, irritability, anger, snappishness, and inefficiency. She says she feels a constant state of anxiety, whether her inbox is empty or full. She has an action- and anxiety-packed work day.

Facebook screen suckerIf we are not careful, the gadgets to lighten our load ensnare us and disrupt our work and creativity. We may all be addicted to some degree – sucked in by our screens. Statistics are a little alarming – modern workers spend an average of 11 hours a day attached to some form of media. This means that the mind is never just sitting still. And it is a vicious circle, for the more we stimulate our mind, the less it can stay still, and so the more we need to stimulate it to keep it sufficiently entertained or occupied.

Apparently the last decade has seen a 10-fold rise in symptoms like ADD, where people feel more irritable and pressurized, less able to relax, and less organized. And the ability to prioritize starts to suffer, which again begs the question: “What is a day for?!” If you ask me, a day is for increasing our mental peace, not decreasing it. We can’t be happy if we’re not peaceful, and we all want to be happy – that’s why we’re multitasking in the first place! For mental peace, we need mental space and positivity. So a day is not for a lot of external activity for its own sake, but for controlling our mind. Prioritizing this is rather essential, starting with our motivation. And, when we don’t absolutely HAVE to be online, in our own time, we can switch the gadget off, sit somewhere comfortable, and pick up a meditation book… That habit can also become addictive, and it is a pleasant, uplifting habit to have.

relaxing, space, peaceI think a successful day depends not on what we got “done”, but on how positively we met with challenges, kept a happy, creative mind, overcame our faults, and cherished others. It doesn’t matter then whether we get a lot done externally or just a little — in both cases we can rest assured that we have done a good day’s work and moved in a good direction.

Do you agree, or not? Is this just a recipe for laziness? What do you think a day is for?

Author: Luna Kadampa

Based on 40 years' experience, I write about applying meditation and modern Buddhism to improve and transform our everyday lives and societies. I try to make it accessible to everyone anywhere who wants more inner peace and profound tools to help our world, not just Buddhists. Do make comments any time and I'll write you back!

8 thoughts on “What is a day for?”

  1. When I read this question I thought my days are for getting realisations now but before finding Buddha I would of said to make a dollar amazing how meditation can transform your thought patterns love your articles so inspiring have been following them through students of geshe-la for a while

  2. A day is for being…in the moment…for loving, reflecting, absorbing, learning, giving, creating❤️❤️🙏🙏

  3. Hi,
    I have been extra busy with work, so unable to check out or post to my Tumblr and FB pages as much lately. I REALLY like this article, and agree a successful day for me now is getting through it without losing my positivity AND peacefulness. Basically, it’s a practice mindfulness. Thanks for your blogs and experience!

  4. Multi-tasking doesn’t work. Scientific fact. Even people who think they’re good at it are actually less effective at each task than they thought they’d be. So whichever way you look at it, multitasking isn’t worth the stress.
    Love the FB pic BTW, scarily true for the internet as a whole. What is the caption for the guy in the car?

  5. I think that when we think of ‘our life’, we forget that we experience it every day! We want a happy life, but we somehow think that that happy life and this day are different things. If we keep thinking like this, we will put up with lousy days again and again, until our life is over. Luna, you have put your finger on it again – we need to be happy TODAY, and tomorrow, and every day!

  6. I think a day is for breathing and loving and being –and being the best me I can be. I think multitasking and social media addiction is more about avoiding ever taking a quiet moment in which all that “you” don’t want to see might come to “your” attention.

  7. I’m lucky in the fact that being retired it gives me the time to spend some effort in creating the causes for some happiness and stillness during my day. I now see people as I was, caught up in doing so many things… busy, busy, busy. What makes me sad is when I see (too many times) a parent on the bus or walking with their child and ignoriing their child because they are tweeting or talking on the phone.These gadgets can drive us apart rather than bring us together. Our day could be a wonderful adventure if we don’t get caught up in outward appearances, keep a light mind, and try to be affectionate and kind to each other.

  8. Every single day brings its own list of situations. It’s up to us to choose from iys menu. Carpe diem!

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