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Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda©

Bob Dare

February 2015

Karen and I spent Christmas with my son Matt and his family. Matt has this uncanny ability to read body language and facial features. I have always been challenged with the exercise of patience and it becomes visible when I begin to stress or allow my mind to wander from the task at hand. When "multi-tasking" was introduced into our jargon, I had a perfectly legitimate response when I was accused of not having my head in the game. So, here we were with my Son, his wife Jacci and my granddaughters, Eleanor and Alice, enjoying the holidays. The perfect time for relaxing, unwinding and concentrating on family.

On day three of the visit, during the early afternoon, while engaged in a rousing game of hide-and-seek with Eleanor and Alice, Matt observed me checking my email.

"What are you doing Dad?" asked Matt.

"Multi-tasking Son. Getting a little work done while..."

Matt interrupted, "Dad, there are a number of recent studies that I could provide you that opine that multi-tasking is not possible. Your brain allows you to focus on one thing at a time, that is, if the one thing is your task at hand and you intend to do it well. I have noticed that you seem to be unable to just do one thing for very long until you start planning the next thing that you are going to do. I am betting that this is a major contributor to your fatigue and your stress. If you are going to play with the kids, play with them. If you are going to work, tell them that that is more important right now. They will understand."

Busted, right then and there. I had no retort, no good answer. Once again I was forced to realize that my lack of patience and ability to devote myself to slowing down, enjoying the moment, and "being there" was having a negative impact on me and others around me. I put away the phone and disciplined myself to the task at hand; hide-and-seek.

About an hour later Matt delivered to me a children's book, the title? Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda©. Here is the paraphrased abridged version:

The mindful monkey cannot understand why the panda is so happy every time they meet. The monkey engages in many of the same daily tasks as the panda; exercise, reading, playing, etc. At the end of each day the monkey is exhausted and unfulfilled. The panda is all smiles, energetic, upbeat and positive. The monkey finally decides to query the Panda:

"I don't understand, states Monkey, I do everything that you do but never feel rewarded."

"What do you think of when you are doing something?" asks Panda

Monkey replies that he thinks about the next thing or things he is going to do (see where I am going with this?)

Panda cheerfully states, "When I am reading I only think of what I am reading, when I am walking I think only of the benefits of my walk, and when I am..."

I think you get the lesson of the story. I have thanked Matt a number of times for providing me a child's book that is so instructive. I now mentally call upon the story to keep me focused on what I am doing at any particular time. It's never too late to learn, is it?

* Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda© Lauren Alderfer & Kerry Lee Maclean

True Growth Takeaway: How many things do we miss at the moment because we are not fully engaged in what we are doing? How much energy do we waste by trying to spread our minds over numerous things simultaneously? How many conversations are lost because instead of listening we are formulating our words?

True Growth Journaling Questions: How can I get more out of each special moment?

About the author: Bob Dare served 28 years in the United States Army. He held every noncommissioned officer leadership position culminating with his last three assignments as Command Sergeant Major for the 25th Infantry Division, United States Army Pacific Command and United States Army Forces Command. Bob is also an executive coach and facilitator for LWM III Consulting.



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