The Art of Gathering
My thoughts upon reading the first 4 chapter of 'The Art of Gathering'
The introduction of the book surprised me. I had never really thought about the negative aspects of gathering. I always viewed gatherings as a way to bring people together. So when I read about the studies that concluded gatherings rarely fulfill their purpose, I was challenged to reflect on my attitude towards gatherings.
I read the first chapter, “Decide the real reason why you’re gathering,” on a Monday. The chapter challenged so many of the assumptions I had consciously or unconsciously held as I attended or planned gatherings. The quote “you may be doing your guests a favor by having a focus” convinced me that knowing the purpose ahead of time is conducive to making a better use of time.
Throughout the week, I applied the concept of deciding on a purpose to areas beyond gatherings. For several months, I had attempted to remove many of the bad habits I perform on auto-pilot. That included my habit of picking up my phone in the morning and my habit of grabbing a snack every time I returned to my dorm room. I took a moment to ask myself why I perform these habits and why I would like to get rid of them.
- Phone in the morning:
- To check what has happened over night – respond to text messages, emails, check updates
- I’d like to remove this habit because I end up wasting a lot of time in bed every morning, which is my most productive time of day
- Eating a snack when I return to my room
- Earn time to decide what to do next
- Eat to give myself an excuse to take a break
- I’d like to remove this habit because I eat a lot of unhealthy snacks unconsciously, which is not good for my health.
After this activity, I challenged myself to pause whenever I had the urge to perform one of the two habits. I had to stop for 10 seconds and ask WHY I was performing it. Through this change, I was able to find other tasks that fulfilled the purpose in a much more effective, meaningful way. Instead of checking my phone first thing in the morning, I picked up my Bible and read 2 chapters. I allocated a specific timeframe of 15 minutes in my morning to respond to any emails and messages. Instead of eating a snack every time I returned to my room, I started to first put away my belongings and change into comfortable clothes. For the next half-hour, I would allow myself to lay in bed or take a walk, which served as a more rejuvenating break.