Do you get so caught up in the day-to-day of life that you begin to lose sight of what’s most important, often taking things for granted, overlooking what’s right in front of you, or simply going through the motions as if on autopilot?

Sometimes I do. Sometimes I just seem to put on the proverbial blinders and the days and weeks just fly by—a blur of work, travel, friends, family, more work, you name it. And when I finally force myself to hop off the jungle treadmill, I can only think, “Whoa, where’d the time go?” and vow never to get so caught up in the monkey chatter again.

Of course, invariably I do. We all do. We get busy, and when we’re busy we often slip into the survival mode of doing what’s necessary just to keep up, with little thought of how it’s affecting us or those around us and what we might be missing out on. The chatter of our daily lives can get so loud, it deafens us.

For example, have you ever driven home from work or driven to the mall, only to arrive and realize you have no recollection of the journey? It’s a scary and all-too-common occurrence. You get so focused on the jungle chatter inside your head, on the destination (or the goal, objective, or outcome), that you don’t take the time to observe or enjoy anything along the way. Now, we’re all familiar with pithy quotes out there about how life’s not about the destination, but the journey. They may seem trite and overused, but I must admit, if you can’t remember the journey, what’s the point in even making it? To me, it’s a surefire warning that something’s not quite right in Mudville.

To illustrate further, this person describes how we can get so busy and frantic that we sometimes begin to lose touch with the messages we either send or receive:

“When I was a teenager, I worked as a busboy at a restaurant. One very busy Friday evening, an older man approached me with a look of both amusement and irritation. He said to me ‘Son, I’ve been coming to this restaurant for 10 years, and in all that time I have NEVER seen a sign like that!’ He pointed to our PLEASE WAIT TO BE SEATED sign, which was located at the entrance to the restrooms! In the hectic scramble, one of the other employees moved the sign because it had gotten in the way. But in his rush to get on with things, he forgot the sign bore a message! It had become, for him, just another piece of restaurant furniture. That’s what happens when you work around a sign long enough—you forget the message.” (Anonymous)

What messages are you exposed to every day, messages that you may become oblivious to, especially when you are in uber-busy, survival mode? As a result, what messages do YOU then send out to the Universe, to your colleagues, to your friends and family—messages that perhaps you’re not even aware you are sending (think inattention, irritability, impatience!)?

Messages bombard us every day on the Web, in print, on TV, on the radio, in advertisements, on the news, in TV shows, movies, music, social media, and even blogs! We are constantly encouraged to make more money, buy bigger and better things, climb the corporate ladder. In millions of different ways, we’re told to “get at it” and “go for it.”

It’s hardly surprising then, from time to time, that we get so preoccupied we tune out the BIGGEST MESSAGE OF ALL: knowing the difference between what’s right and wrong and knowing where to draw the line between our materialistic and altruistic needs.

If only we could learn to “hate” a few things in life and hate them well—such as violence, lying, gossip, self-serving motives, wicked schemes, and greed—so that when we do shift to autopilot (as we know we will), we have a natural aversion to these things that is ingrained in our basic DNA. Maybe then we’d be better able to stay on message and be more receptive to messages about giving, loving, living peaceably, and constantly thirsting for wisdom, knowledge, and truth.

Wouldn’t that make for interesting times? Wouldn’t that help us make this world a better place? (Admittedly, this King Monkey might be a bit naïve, but if by voicing this aspiration I can start even the tiniest of little ripples “in the pond,” then it’s worth it.)

Where do YOU find balance between material and altruistic needs? How do YOU make yourself slow down, step back, listen, and observe your journey through life? Share your experiences here.