Motivation Monday: Tune in not out

By Loralyn Mears PhD Loralyn Mears PhD has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on July 15, 2020

Monday Motivation here we come! This is for those of you who slog through your Monday mornings. If you lament the end of the weekend and dread returning to the office, you may need our Motivation Monday quick tips. Grit Daily offers an avenue to connect with others like you. We’re here to help get your work week off to a good start. Pump your fists – it’s time for Motivation Monday!


Tuning in

Today’s theme for Motivation Monday struck me a week or two ago, just prior to my cycling accident. By the way, I am healing well, thank you to all those who offered support and checked in on me! I was racing out the door to squeeze in a quick walk with my dog between calls and deadlines when it happened.

No sooner had I walked out the door when my phone died. I hadn’t realized that the batter was so low. Fine. No music. I’d survive. So I wrapped my headphones around my neck and then strange things began to happen.


Just coffee not conversation

Notice that there wasn’t even a ‘please” at the end of that. Why would there be? This is, in part, one of the aspects of today’s motivation Monday column. People, in my opinion, are quite self-absorbed these days. Moreso than I’ve seen in the past.

For example, consider a café scenario. How many people are plugged into their headphones, phones, and laptops? Perhaps the 2/3 majority? These are missed opportunities! I don’t see people reaching out to their café table neighbor and saying hello. The headphones literally obliterate any opportunity for interaction, let alone the chance to strike up a conversation. My hypothesis is that there would be more new friendships and serendipitous business relationship meet-ups if people tuned in, not out.

Wearing headphones regularly is also bad for your health and limits your success according to a Harvard Business Review study from a few years ago. A Taiwanese study showed that wearing headphones actually reduced productivity in the workplace, reduced concentration and effectiveness. Finally, there is the obvious and expected resultant hearing loss.

Take your headphones off! I get it that people have to work. I do it, too. But I’m going to wear my headphones less often from now on.


The side-effects of wearing headphones

This week’s Monday motivation theme relates to an aspect of mindfulness. It’s all about being in the moment and being open to receiving the sights, sounds and smells around you. Literally, it’s about a fully immersive experience where you are fully cognizant of all that is going on around you. And, most importantly, that you proactively notice what’s happening and engage in it.

There is an active reddit column dedicated to conversations about people wearing headphones so that they don’t have to talk to others on their college campus. What a waste! Your future soulmate, bestie or biz partner could be out there just waiting to talk to you. Some people purport to find value in the multi-tasking approach where they tune in to music on their headphones to keep the vibe positive while they talk to or text someone. If someone is standing in front of you, I personally feel that you should unplug to show some respect for the other person’s time and effort in engaging with you but others disagree.


Monday motivation: use your words

As I was saying, when I went out to walk my dog on the day that my phone battery died, strange things happened. People started talking to me. I kid you not! It was like something out of the twilight zone. Typically, I rarely get the head nod from a fellow runner or dog walker. But, on that day, people actually opened their mouths and words came out.

In the span of 30 minutes, I spoke with 5 different people. Four were neighbors that I had never seen before and one was a visitor from out-of-town staying with someone who lived on my block. Only two of them had dogs so it wasn’t as if it was a spontaneous dog-walker-club event was happening. I looked receptive, open, interested in engaging. I’d smile, people would smile back, pause, then talk for a bit. The whole thing was fascinating. I haven’t attempted a repeat yet as I haven’t walked since I wiped out on my bike, but I intend to repeat the experiment to see what other glorious things happen.

Something that happens once is random. Twice equals a coincidence. Three or more times sparks a trend … let’s see. TBD.


Tips to tune in

#1 – someone has to make the first move

Motivation Monday is about doing things for yourself and it’s about you being the one to do things. That said, someone has to make the first move! Just try smiling at someone you walk past. This is an amazing superpower that everyone has – but so few of us choose to use it.

#2 – what’s different?

If you’ve grown so accustomed to tuning out, the first time that you tune-in might be revolutionary for you. Just start small, what’s a new or interesting sound or sight? Focus on it. Then think about how many interesting sights and sounds you’ve missed while you’ve been tuned out…

#3 – absorb it

Take the milliseconds or, here’s a crazy idea – take a few whole seconds to fully absorb the experience. Process it. Think about what you’re feeling, how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it. That’s a self-caring moment that you could have multiple times per day and hundreds of times per year if you allowed it.


Who motivates YOU?

Michelle Reid of Grand Rapids, MI wrote a blog post nearly two years ago. She probably has no idea that she’s my motivation Monday hero today. There are 202 people with that name living in that town so your guess as to who she is as good as mine. Her choice to never wear headphones on campus today resonated with me. The key point in that her blog highlights a central aspect of mindfulness, which is awareness. She writes:

With headphones in you are much more unapproachable and therefore cut off any opportunity there is to build relationships with those around you. I would rather be watching my surroundings and taking the time to get to know the people in the area. I believe that having a divider between myself and those around me steals the opportunity to connect and those are moments you can’t get back.”

Motivation Monday props to Michelle – I couldn’t have written better words myself!

By Loralyn Mears PhD Loralyn Mears PhD has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Dr. Loralyn Mears is a Columnist at Grit Daily and a podcast host (The Grit Files, which aims to shine the spotlight on female founders). She is a content marketer, founder of the WORKtech startup, STEERus, specializing in personal and professional development to address gaps in soft skills - communication in particular. In her consultancy practice, she helps clients with content and strategy. Loralyn spent over a decade playing with mosquito DNA, got her PhD, decided she would rather market science than be at the bench and has never looked back. Along the way, she’s wined and dined her way around the globe. She's authored two books, including the 2018 Gold Medal Indie Book award-winning, One Sip At a Time: a Memoir and the hard science thriller, "The Battle for Humanity: How Science Saved Us." 

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