We adhere to the five second rule in this household. If a really good piece of food falls on the floor we usually pick it up and stick in our mouths — as long as it hasn’t been on the ground for more than five seconds. This doesn’t happen with broccoli. Once down, it stays down. And, we don’t subscribe to the rule for super sticky moist tidbits like say macaroni, or pizza. But candy? Heck that can be rinsed or brushed off and easily consumed within seconds.
That’s the pattern around here. But, turns out five seconds is a little long for most things.
“We experience the world in about these 3-second time frames, “ says developmental psychologist Emese Nagy, from the United Kingdom.
According to research: Hugs, goodbye waves, musical phrases, a baby’s babble, even relaxed breathing and things like chewing and pooping, (if you’re a raccoon, giraffe or panda – and yes, this has been studied in the Animal Kingdom) and many other moments in our lives are lived in three second windows. So, as the Big Wigs confer, the present – as we see it – is about three seconds long.
At least the present we are conscious of. But think of the three seconds we miss. When was the last time you really stood in that hug, thinking only about that moment, the feel of those arms around you and the pressure on your body as you hug back? When was the last time you drove to your kids’ school and actually remember the feel of the steering wheel beneath your fingers or the seeing the stoplights along the way?
Think of the other moments too – the ones that were mere fractions of seconds – but felt so much bigger because you were paying attention. Like the time you first saw your fiance’ at the end of the end of the aisle. Or what that diploma felt like in your hand. Or a mammogram or kids’ tantrum or a really good lick of ice cream. We can be present to all of those things, engage in our lives, or shake them off in three seconds flat.
But, when we live with awareness — when we become present to our own lives — even a three second hug feels bigger and better than the time it took.
How will you spend your three-second moments today?
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