I’m going to say something that you already know, but seems important to reiterate occasionally: You only have now. Like this very moment. The past is over and the future hasn’t yet happened so you literally have this moment we’re in (thank you for spending it reading this post, btw).
Yet, how often do we actually give our full attention to the moment we’re in?
If we’re not thinking about our to do list, we’re wondering what that text message ding was all about or panicking that time is running out on the life we hoped to create. And let’s not even get into kids, Instagram, what to make for dinner, and if gluten really is as bad as they say it is (but it tastes so good!).
WHEW. No wonder we end up feeling like our life is passing us by and we’re somehow missing out on it.
Being present, and truly in the moment, helps you feel like you’re actually IN your life. You remember moments as they’re happening, you feel a greater sense of connection, which leads to stronger relationships, and you (weirdly) have the space to breathe.
Do you remember the time right after your first kiddo was born? For me, it was like time completely stopped and every particle of my being was focused on this little person and her needs. Nothing outside of her mattered at that time – work, the house, unanswered emails and calls, other peoples’ needs – they could all wait, because all my attention was hyper-focused on this one being.
Now, I’m not advocating going back to the newborn phase, because, omg, can we also talk about the tears, sleepless nights, tears, fights with my husband, tears, and constant vigilance her sleeping seemed to require? Also, did I mention the tears?
But, what if we had a little bit more of that focus in our everyday life? What if we let the text message go unanswered when we were talking to our partner? Or only focused on the work at hand when we were working? Or got down and really played with our kids when they asked?
I can tell you from experience, it changes things. My husband offers deeper insights about work where before I often felt left out. I get ahead in my work instead of always feeling behind. The kids actually play better on their own after an intense Mom Session so I have extra free time. And, most importantly, I feel like my life matters and I’m showing up to it.
Do I do it perfectly? Well, let’s just say, I wore my pants inside out all day and didn’t notice until my husband pointed it out this evening. So, the answer would be no. No, I’m not perfectly present in my life.
But, I’m way better and do it when it counts (you want to talk through something, I’m your gal). I’ve started doing a few things to make it easier and to help bring me back to the present moment.
ARGH! Do you hate me? I know you don’t want to hear this, but this is the number thing you can do to be in the moment.
And I think you need to put it AWAY. Like in a different room, your purse, in a drawer, somewhere where it won’t tempt you or ding or distract you when you want to be listening or engaging or having fun.
This is the biggest (and hardest) thing I’ve done to show up fully, but it has made the biggest impact. I think of it like this – if I were on a call with Oprah, would I be checking my texts? No, I would not. And the people in my life are way more important to me than even Queen O so shouldn’t I give them my full attention?
There are some times when your brain just will not stop and that’s when you need to do a big ole brain dump.
Write down everything that’s running around in your brain where you can see it and it can stop taking up space in your mind.
I do this when I’m stressing over all the things I have to do, wondering what I should make for dinner this week, obsessing over getting our finances in order, shopping in my brain for all the Christmas presents… I get it all out and in one place so it can stop taking up precious cargo in my brain.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit the number of times I’ve driven to school on the weekend when I actually needed to go to Target because I wasn’t paying attention.
And I can easily go a whole day in my head, not really seeing what is going on around me in the outside world, which is pretty much the antithesis of being present.
So, awhile back, I set up several alarms on my phone, that ring throughout the day to remind me to look outside myself. To physically pull myself out of my brain and see where I am and what the world around me looks like. More often than not, there’s a blue sky or lovely sunset I would have completely missed because I’m so caught up in my own brain.
I’ve always been a pretty fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal, which is great for impromptu, late night couch drinking, but not so great when you’re sitting on the couch and remember you have a writing deadline the next morning and you haven’t even started.
So, now, I schedule EVERYTHING (I like to be excessive – no middle ground for me!). I took this life-changing class, Monday Hour One, where they have you plan out your entire week down to your Netflix binges. And it really works!
Where I used to feel like I never had enough time to give any situation my proper attention, now, I have it planned. If I’m going to see my parents, I schedule the time so I can be fully present during that time instead of thinking about when I’m going to clean the house (Saturday mornings with the family, thank you very much).
It has made a world of difference and lets me be truly in the moment rather than always feeling like I’m supposed to be doing something else, somewhere else.
I read once that people who are chronically late are perpetual optimists – they believe they can get one more thing done when, spoiler alert!, they don’t have the time. As a hardcore optimist, this has been a very hard habit to break, but a truly worthwhile one.
As part of my scheduling, I also schedule in SO MUCH TIME.
For example, I know that every morning I think we’re going to leave at 8:30 for school, but then someone can’t find their backpack or I have to clean off the car or we only have one shoe. And then we’re late and I’m yelling and they’re crying and I spend the rest of the drive upset at myself and praying all the lights work in my favor.
But, if I plan on leaving at 8:20 then we have all this extra space to find lost clothing, and not worry about traffic, and I can be in the moment with my kids. Some of our best conversations have happened when we’re puttering along to school (rather than tearing through the neighborhood) and we have the time to really enjoy each other.
It’s such a small thing that truly affects all of our quality of life.
So, what do you think? Do any of these sound like something you can do? I’d love to hear other suggestions that have worked for you in the comments!
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