by Ari Tuckman
admit, I was awed by the wide screen TV I bought recently. I still think it's pretty cool, but not as impressive as when it first replaced my antique set. On the other hand, when I think back on the weekend my wife and I spent exploring Greenwich Village in New York, my memories are as positive now as they were at the time. Actually, I enjoy my memories of the trip more because I relive all the fun we had.
Even though stores are full of interesting things to buy, remember that they create work. It always takes you longer than you anticipated to set up and learn to use new technology (and upgrade the other things that are no longer compatible). You also have more to take care of-the more stuff you have, the longer it takes to organize. And unless you want to keeping moving into bigger houses, you have to get rid of stuff-for every item that comes in, something has to go. This isn't to say you shouldn't buy anything, just that it's worth thinking about the objects that we bring into our lives.
By contrast, many people find experiences ultimately more satisfying than objects-we gain more happiness from good experiences than from shiny new objects. A rewarding experience can be expensive, like a big fancy trip, but it can also be a smaller, more common event, like going out to dinner or spending a fun afternoon at home with the family. This is especially true when we feel we spend too much time scrambling to stay on top of life's demands.
Here are some suggestions to get the most from your experiences:
- Enjoying what you're doing. It's easy to go through your day on autopilot, so make a point of being present. Pay attention to what's going on around you and inside you. Try to notice things you might normally miss. We're all distracted and preoccupied sometimes, but if you catch your attention wandering, try to bring it back to the present.
- Focus on the process, not the product. Sometimes we need to get things done, but sometimes it can be rewarding to enjoy doing something without worrying about finishing it. If your boss isn't demanding a finished product, allow yourself to simply enjoy what you're doing, even if you don't finish. Because many ADHDers have trouble finishing things, they feel guilty when they leave something half-done-even when it isn't something that has to be finished. For example, if you like to read, then enjoy whatever page is in front of you, even if you never finish the book. The objective is to enjoy yourself in the moment, not to prepare a book report.
- Accept that you must chose among infinite possibilities. We live in an age of plenty, and through the Internet and mass media, we're much more aware of everything the world offers. This is great news, but can also create a sense of regret for all the opportunities we won't have time to pursue. Try to make good choices, but then focus on enjoying what you are doing rather than thinking about what you could be doing-there always other options but regret will undermine your enjoyment of the choices you make if you let it. When you find yourself thinking about what else you could be doing, bring your attention back to enjoying what you are doing.
When you look back on your life, your experiences will mean more to you than the things you used to own, so give yourself some good memories!
Dr. Ari Tuckman, a psychologist in West Chester, PA, is the author of "More Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for Adults with ADHD"
and "Integrative Treatment for Adult ADHD: A Practical, Easy-to-Use Guide for Clinicians"
. Learn more, download Chapter 1 and listen to his free weekly podcast at http://adultADHDbook.com