People often tell me that they want to be more present, to appreciate and enjoy the here-and-now. The ability to focus in this way doesn’t always come naturally. If you want to be more mindful, there are specific actions that can derail your ability to truly savor the moment on a regular basis.
Do any of the following missteps keep you from living in the moment?
1) You move too fast. If you are always on the go, you likely can’t don’t take time to smell the proverbial roses. Or the literal ones. Slow down and immerse yourself fully in whatever you are dedicated to doing – eating lunch, washing dishes, or walking from one place to the other – and make mental notes about the process.
What is that new herb in today’s focaccia? Are those notes of vanilla in the dish soap? What types of flowers are planted near the entrance to your office building? You may laugh, but give it a try.
Every experience, no matter how mundane it may appear to be on the surface, is worthy of our attention.
2) You multitask. I know. You have a lot of things to do. Me too. Research shows, however, that multitasking can actually change our brains (and not for the better). Who knew? Productivity expert Julie Morgenstern additionally asserts that multitasking actually costs time because we remember less and make mistakes.
Studies show that multitasking (more accurately known as ‘task switching’) can reduce our productivity by up to 40%. Not cool. How about focusing on the one thing that you are doing right now before you ready to move ‘on to the next’?
3) You listen to reply rather than to understand. I think that the act of listening to another person is one of the most powerful things that we can do for each other. When people feel heard, a deep level of acknowledgement and connection can be established (even when individuals disagree).
If you listen solely to refute a point or if you are just waiting for someone to stop talking so you can start, you miss an opportunity to be present by comprehending the feelings or perspectives of another when they need it most.
4) You are tired. I’m going to state the obvious: sleep matters. When our bodies and minds are rested, we can better engage with the world around us. Brain fog doesn’t allow us to be present in any real form. Lack of sleep can impact our attention span and that subsequently undermines our ability to invest in the moment.
Figure out your sleep requirements for optimal performance and make a commitment to get appropriate amounts of rest on a regular basis.
5) You constantly dwell on the past, the future or both. If you focus on things that you can’t change, you won’t be positioned to preserve much energy for the present. Think about what you stand to miss right now, immediately in your line of vision because you are lamenting the past (which is gone) or worried about the future (which hasn’t happened yet).
I’m all for learning from history and preparing for successes as we go forward, but don’t allow yourself to miss out on the opportunities or insights that you have in hand.
6) You over-think most things. If find yourself in constant thought, you may be prone to ‘analysis-paralysis’. Instead of thinking something to death, review your options, consider the pros/cons and take action.
You can be more present in the moment by seizing opportunities to execute and make progress when possible.
OK. My bad. I actually had 7 mistakes on my list, so let me exceed your expectations with a bonus entry. Here we go…
7) You fail to prioritize play. As adults we are all so very serious. We have pressing matters to attend to, places to go and people to see. The spontaneity and lightheartedness of play are essential aspects of living in and honoring the present.
While I’m not encouraging you to start a food fight at your workplace or to streak at the next neighborhood softball game, I do suggest that you revisit the joys and frivolity of childhood. Dr Stuart Brown, Head of the National Institute for Play (and yes, that is a real thing), suggests that play is essential for our engagement with the world and our connections to others.
Allow yourself to have moments of unbridled, unplanned laughter and fun. Plan a response then purposely seize the chance to do something different. Right now.
I dare you to make a change! I double dog dare you.
Engineer Your Bliss Challenge: Take specific steps to address one of the mistakes above that keeps you from living in the moment.
What would you gain if you were more present in your life? Let me know in the comments below.
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