“Hey, Ria, I’m so sleepy,” my manager once said. “I didn’t get a decent sleep last night. What should I do? Do I have to buy a coffee or a Red Bull?”

We were working overtime (this before the pandemic!). Tired and sleepy myself, I responded, “Well, you can just sleep!”

“Haha! Oh right. I never think of that.”

The answer was so easy, right?

But yet we like to ignore what we need and like to complicate everything. I don’t understand, why?

Well, you might say it’s understandable because work is important. A deadline cannot wait. So, to meet a tight deadline, one needs to dope themselves with caffeine, decrease their sleep, and meet the work expectation. However, is this the case? Let’s try to look at it from a different perspective. If we care about ourselves so much, we will obviously be aware that sleep deprivation is a serious problem. So, we will try to maintain a proper sleep schedule to save ourselves from future risks. Or at least we can squeeze 10 minutes nap in between our work.

Whenever we encounter a problem, our body will tell us what it needs. Sleep-deprived? Our eyes will feel heavy. The harder we resist, the sleepier we will be. Low on calories? The stomach will be rumbling and asking for food. Dehydrated? We will feel dry on our throat, craving to gulp a glass of water. Catch some virus? The white blood cells will fight the virus and heat our body up. That’s a sign to get some rest.

However, we tend to listen more to external circumstances. We like to listen more to our job pressure or what other people might think of us. We like to neglect our bodily needs.

Sometimes our mind tricks us to tell what we “need”. Our minds might tell us that we need social recognition, the money, or that gold star. While it might be not the case. That’s when we need to stop.

“Often we tell ourselves, “Don’t just sit there, do something!” But when we practice awareness, we discover something unusual. We discover that the opposite may be more helpful: “Don’t just do something, sit there!” We must learn to stop from time to time in order to see clearly.” (Thich Nhat Hanh – Peace Is Every Step)

By becoming mindful, we can listen to the exact things we need, not only to the things we want.

The act of do nothing will help us to listen deeply to our body, our mind, and ourselves for what it truly needs.

Stop, pause, and listen

Pausing between doing what we are doing will gives us a moment to be mindful. This will helps us to avoid any bad choices that will decrease our quality of life. For example, when you feel hungry, stop for a moment. Be mindful and ask yourself a question. When was the last time you eat? Do you really hungry, or do you just bored? When we are tired, does watch one more Netflix shows give us the rest we need? When we are sleepy, is that cup of coffee will helps us in the long run? This act is so simple but yet so powerful.

Even, the act of stop and pause can help us to save some money! For example, before making an online purchase, stop and ask yourself this question. Do you really need to buy that new clothes or an ad just appeared a few moments ago? Did you feel hungry or tired when you scroll through the e-commerce app?

“Indeed, there is evidence that people are more likely to be influenced by empty persuasive messages, such as commercials, when they are tired and depleted.” (Daniel Kahneman – Thinking, Fast and Slow)

I admit that I am not a good mindfulness practitioner. A while ago, a random car crossed over mine on a highway. I was irritated, but my partner told me maybe she’s going to the hospital. To my surprise, she did. I feel awkward, but thankfully I didn’t lash out and honk the horn as I habitually did. 1 minute of pause matters. Later I realize it’s not hard to make a habit to stop and pause. Actually, it’s so simple, right? Who can’t just stop, pause, and do nothing? I like a lazy solution, and I think this is great!

Sure, sometimes we face a complex or more serious problem like financial trouble or the death of a close one. We can’t possibly say that just stop, pause, and be mindful will solve every problem on earth. That would be disrespectful for people who really struggled to their misery. That’s because we need to be aware of our understanding. The act of stop and pause is a tool, not the solution itself. But, this tool is so powerful. This act will help us to build a clear awareness. That’s how a simple act of mindfulness can help to solve a complex problem.

Anyone can spare one minute to pause, stop, and be mindful. Mindful awareness will help us to find a helpful solution to our problem.