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Mind Games

mind gamesWhat does your morning shower feel like?

“Come again, Matt?”

Yes, what does your morning shower feel like?

“Why? Before work, I typically hop in and hop out. Can’t be late for boss — he’s a real jerk. I rinse off in 10 minutes. Why? Are you planning on opening a Turkish bathhouse?” you snidely remark.

Not quite. But I am interested in washing away the incessant worry that pervades our daily lives. That humming cacophony drains us, greying life’s days.

“Ping!” your inbox chimes. You race to read the latest email as your homemade lasagna burns. Thirty minutes later, your smoke alarm is wailing louder than your kids. Striving to meet family and work demands, we multitask. How many of us have glared at the oblivious driver simultaneously checking her iPhone, applying mascara, and scolding her child?

If multitasking is a fine art, we are more finger-painter than French artist. Miss Motorist, our distracted driver, embodies today’s reality. Racing from one appointment to another, we are more scattered than ever — misplacing keys, cell phones, and our sound judgment.

Under the guise of productivity, we try to cram more in our overstuffed days. Better, faster, quicker is the unfailing mantra. Twisting the shower knob, you ruminate about the business meeting with Paul, the lunch with the haughty VP, the conference call with Junior’s math teacher. Your mental calendar is buzzing with future meetings, weekly appointments, and to-do lists — at 6 a.m.

Ironically, as your overactive mind fires off its to-do list, your productivity wanes. Fumbling for the shampoo, can you placate Paul’s shipping demands? Do you have a direct line to the principal about Junior’s mischievousness? Overindulging our analytical minds, we substitute activity for action. Stepping out of the shower at 6:13 a.m., we are exhausted, not energized.

“But,” you protest, “I am more productive. I accomplish a lot throughout the day. Look at how many windows are open on my laptop.” I stifle a knowing chuckle. When multitasking, studies conclude that we overestimate our efficiency and underestimate our productivity. According to researcher Zeng Weng, “people who multitask are not being more productive — they just feel more emotionally satisfied from their work.” Our feelings deceive us. Don’t believe me? Sift through the incomplete emails sprouting moss in your work account.

I understand. Like you, my mind veers from future commitments to past resentments. The present? It is so thoughtful of you to buy me a gift. Perhaps you can purchase an iPhone app for my festering inbox.

Drowning in our whirlwind of thoughts, we need time to recharge — play Sudoku, stumble through a New York Times crossword puzzle, and, yes, soak in the shower — our overtaxed minds. Mindfulness is my balm. As my mind scurries off for the latest crisis, I pull it back. How? I have sacrosanct words and phrases to redirect my attention. Present, here, and control what you can control are gentle reminders.

As we race through life, practice sitting still. That humming cacophony murmuring in the background? Turn down the volume and turn up your life’s enjoyment.


Mind Games

Matthew Loeb

Matthew Loeb, a Seattle-based attorney, is a mental health advocate. You can contact him at

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APA Reference
Loeb, M. (2018). Mind Games. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 3, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 16 Jun 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.