When we bought our house, it was empty. My running joke was that all I need to survive is a refrigerator, a ‘lazy-boy' sofa and an internet connection! For a few months, it was really zen-like. Steve jobs is known to have spent a lot of time living in an apartment with no or hardly any furniture - by choice.
But slowly and surely, it kept getting filled up. Now there is a dining table, a center table, pieces of art, sofa sets, carpets, book cases, wall murals, a globe, and so on and on. The zen-charm is gone. The cool thing about the emptiness is that whatever little was there, felt super special. The more we have now, the less important each additional thing seems to be. In economics it is called the law of diminishing marginal utility.
Just like physical space, there is also something called mental space. That is the space that gets filled up with our thoughts. In the absence of thoughts, it’s just pure mental space - if you can imagine what that may be like!
I asked myself this question recently, and it really made re-think my perspective of my own life - ‘What occupies my mind-space nowadays?’ What thoughts come to my mind most automatically and most frequently?
Here is what I found were the top 3:
A Thoughts about ‘what I should be doing but am not doing'
B Thoughts about what my life may look like a few years from now
C Thoughts about some people in my life and what they might be doing / thinking
Here is what my wife said were the recent top 3 occupants of her mind space:
A Thoughts about our kids and what she must do for them
B Thoughts about what she ought to be doing about her career
C Some background fear that she might be missing out on something
The point is this, it’s very interesting what occupies our mind-space. It almost determines the quality of our life. If I were to think back to times when I have had significant achievements, breakthroughs and have really enjoyed every moment of my days, I would say my mental space was occupied by
A The task at hand. There was little time to mull of the past of the future
B A clear picture of the objective or goals I needed to work towards.
C The people I work with and what support they need from me
What occupies my mind-space determines not just the quality of my life, but also greatly influences the quality of results I create.
This little exercise has become an everyday part of my life - to ask myself the question ‘What is occupying my mind-space right now?'