“Nexting”

Today I took spinning, but I was hardly there. Instead, while my legs pumped the pedals, my mind was in a race all its own. Apparently, I’m pretty hard-core about “nexting.”

Last week, I became aware of my nexting patterns. Nexting is best described by social psychologist and Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert, Ph.D., who coined the term: “When we take a stroll on the beach, our brains predict how stable the sand will be when our foot hits it, and then adjust the tension in our knee accordingly. When we leap to catch a Frisbee our brains predict where the disc will be when we cross its flight path, and then bring our hands to precisely that point.” (For the record, I don’t agree with everything that Gilbert says. The concept of “nexting” makes a lot of sense to me, however.)

One thing that Sabbath keeping is teaching me is how to live more in the moment, and think less about the future moments. For me, this is a hard lesson to learn.

My nexting habit runs counter to being present in the moment. When fully present, I savor and embrace that moment completely. It is, by far, the richest way to live – but also quite difficult for me. While we’re apparently hard-wired to think about what is next, with practice, I believe we can live very consciously in the present.

Most of my nexting isn’t about muscle movement or even subconscious things, as Gilbert described. I “next” about time management, family management, and the giant list of things I’d like to accomplish that is forever rolling round in my mind. Afraid that I’ll waste a single moment, I lose multiple moments. Important moments.

Sometimes, naming something is part of moving past it. Since reading about nexting, I am much more aware of my own thought patterns, and my propensity to allow thoughts to move to later activity rather than relishing the moment I am living. I am going to make a conscious effort to nix the nexting and live in the moment.

How about you? Do you struggle with nexting? How has Sabbath keeping changed you, relative to your ability to live in the moment?

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