If you’re like me, on most days you have a great relationship with your mind. If you want to remember a favorite song from the ’80s, you can conjure up the title, band, and possibly even relive the video within minutes.
Then. There. Are. THOSE. Days. You know the ones – the days when you can’t remember the song, let alone anything else. Some people call these slips “senior moments,” but unless you’re over the age of 70, you don’t want to be saddled with this term. Those of us who aren’t even 50 certainly have no use for such a term. A better term might be “absentmindedness” because it cuts right to the chase… your mind, at least for this “call to action” is pretty much absent.
I also like the fact that the term implies EXACTLY what it should imply, that the condition is temporary and 9 times out of 10, certainly no big deal.
I hate (to the point of cringing) when people panic over absentmindedness. Some worry that it’s a sign of a loss of memory, dementia, old age, or even Alzheimer’s disease. To make it even more bizarre, some of the people who express these concerns haven’t even seen their 40th birthday. To think these thoughts creates a negative environment and robs the individual of self confidence. It also creates an air of, “Well, there’s nothing I can do. May as well fade out…”
See why I cringe?
Everyone, even people with extremely good memories and razor sharp minds, experiences absentmindedness. My husband (Michael) is the brightest person I’ve ever met. Sharp as a tack. Honestly, the way his mind works reminds me of a computer as opposed to a mind. He has a goofy, hilarious, life-of-the-party, good-ol-boy personality and approach to life so you’d never really know just how smart he is until you see the mind in action.
Anyway, it kind of makes me smile when he squares off against absentmindedness. He’ll take off out the back door and have to come back in for this or that – he used to get so mad at himself, but now he just kind of chuckles (along with the rest of us who nod and think, “Welcome to the human race.”).
I think of absentmindedness as a chipper sign in a shop window “Closed for Lunch. Back in an Hour!”
There are several causes of absentmindedness and, when you think about it, it’s a wonder we don’t have MORE mental lunch breaks. Consider all that we have going on when birthday number 40 has come and gone:
- Many baby boomers have aging parents to care for, or to at least keep an eye or two on!
- Baby boomers have children of all ages. Some of these children are still school-age, some have gone off to college, some have gotten married, and some baby boomers have babies still in diapers. Irregardless of the age, children require a great deal of thought, worry, time, and care. Don’t ever think any of this slows down when the child hits 16. Many say this is when the REAL parenting begins! As well as the sleepless nights, phone calls, financial help, late night talks, parental advice, wringing of hands…
- Baby boomers are often at the height of their career. Hard work and expertise has paid off and they are enjoying the fruits of their labor – more clients, more responsibilities, more customers, more headaches, more assignments, and longer to do lists.
- Many people, now, have several jobs. Some may work odd jobs on the weekend, some may work outside the home while running a home business.
- Add bills, a mortgage, an irritable economy, depressing news (oil spills, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, war…) – is it any wonder people of all ages often feel that their minds are over taxed?!
- Something else that many people don’t take into consideration is this: The longer you’ve lived, the more memories you have… the more information you have stored on your hard drive, if you will. A 20 year old will be able to recall and recite the entire roster for a baseball team 2 years ago more easily than a 45 year old could. It doesn’t have so much to do with age as it does the pure fact that the 50 year old has a lot more baseball seasons under his or her ball cap. There’s more information to sort through – more names, numbers, and faces. They say that young minds are like sponges – able to soak up information easily. No, kidding, their sponge is fresh and nearly empty!
So, there you have it. Now don’t you agree that it’s a wonder we don’t experience absentmindedness more often?!?! Even people between the ages of 20 and 40 are busier than ever before. The economy has everyone working at a frantic pace, just trying to keep up – and, Heaven help the ones who actually want to get ahead!
Busy, busy, busy = Absentmindedness.
I know, it doesn’t make it any funner or any less frustrating, but hopefully you’ll be able to keep from panicking the next time it happens.
Fortunately, there are some tips that can help you handle absentmindedness and forgetfulness. Here they are – write them down… just be sure you remember where you put the list!
- Keep the items you use the most in a consistent place. Your car keys by the front door, your cellphone on a particular table, your reading glasses beside your favorite chair, and so on. Searching around for things isn’t any fun and having your daughter call your cellphone, so you can find it, makes her giggle a little too much.
- Organize everything around you. I cook a great deal (I guess daily counts as a great deal, wouldn’t you say?), so I keep my measuring cups, spoons, rolling pin, blender, mixer, etc. all in appointed spots. If I need a particular spice or kitchen gadget, I know where it lives and can put it to work within seconds. My home office should be as organized as my kitchen!
- Don’t listen to the time management gurus who say that multi-tasking is the be all and end all (although mulit-tasking could be the end of it all!). Give your full attention to what’s at hand – even if it’s watching a ballgame (besides, 2 years down the road, some smarty pants 20 year old may challenge you to name the roster). Multi-tasking basically says that you’ll devote half of your brain to a particular thing and half of your brain to the other. Now how is any part of that a good thing?
- Write notes and to do lists – then use them. I’m one of those people who draws little boxes in front of the to do list so that I can joyfully check it off when I’ve completed the task. You’ll never find lovelier check marks than mine. Works of art.
- Do not procrastinate. Do it the minute you realize it needs to be done. Procrastination leads to a traffic jam in your mind – the ideal spot for absentmindedness and forgetfulness.
- Keep a calendar near your work area and one in the kitchen. At the beginning of each month, write in big letters, key dates, assignments, appointments, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
- Keep a notebook with you at all times. When you lead a busy lifestyle, you’re apt to hear new names, dates, and bits of information. Never trust yourself to recall any of these later – Heaven only knows what’s going to go on between NOW and THEN. Write it down, even if you’re certain you’ll remember. What’s the worst that could happen, you got a little extra penmanship practice?
Finally, the best advice (dealing with this subject) I’ve ever read came from author Richard Leviton. His advice was this: Periodically, throughout the day, repeat this positive affirmation, “I am paying attention.” Say it firmly, with conviction, and aloud when possible. This affirmation reminds you to fight off distractions and to pay attention to what’s going on around you. It keeps you in the moment and sharpens your mental cutlery.
Stay positive, stay focused, and stay in the moment. And speaking of moments…..
Make each moment count double!