With the recent devastation in Boston, as well as the unheard of tragedies that occur on a daily basis, it really made me think about how precious our time is and if I am truly enjoying each day like my last. A wonderful coaching peer* and I were discussing the importance of being present and basing our actions on current moments (not the ones from yesterday or the anticipated ones of tomorrow), because you really never know what the next one has in store for us.
As such, I’ve listed 7 simple ways to be more present in your everyday life. Practicing this kind of mindfulness can lessen anxiety, allow you to make decisions faster and elevate your confidence. Find one that you relate with most and try to implement it throughout the week!
- You don’t always have to be a playwright. How many times have we found ourselves upset or confused and our mind starts racing with thoughts from every which way? Say you’re stuck at your Aunt Celeste’s 90th birthday party, and as the sound of your out of pitch second cousin belting out Frank Sinatra stings your ears, you escape to the world of Facebook on your phone. Things go further downhill as you see your friends out together, seemingly having the time of their lives… Ugh! Why can’t you be there too? You start to think about all the new inside jokes and memories they are sharing and getting closer, while you are being tortured by family members wondering why you aren’t married yet. The dramatics start in your head and you start to think your friends will forget to invite you out going forward. You’ll be doomed to spend every Friday night from here on out alone… That’s just a classic example of getting caught up in a story. We have a tendency to make assumptions and get so fixated in what we believe to be true as oppose to what really is. The friends you were worried about could really be having a mediocre time, missing your presence, or looking at someone’s status and wishing they were there. So here’s the thing, when we entertain these stories in our mind, it stops us from being real and instead are living in a false reality. When you notice you are concocting theories, take a step back and ask yourself how true your thoughts really are. If you find they’re far-fetched, drop the story-line and bring your attention to the present. Remember, the more fun experiences in life are often the ones we don’t expect as oppose to the ones we try to predict.
- Get your Yogi on. Ok, I’m not suggesting you dress yourself in robes and go sit in a cave for a month. I’m encouraging the idea of learning simple meditation. Meditation doesn’t have to be like you see on-screen with candles and chanting (though by all means, certainly go ahead if you dig that). It can be just taking ten minutes out of your day to simply sit and allow yourself the luxury of not having to think. I remember the first time I took to the cushion and I felt my mind and body synchronize. I had never actually felt them united in that way and it was a true moment of being present. Find a quiet spot, turn off your phone and relax into a solid position. Close your eyes and just focus on your breathing and the way that it feels as it enters in and out of your body. When the thought party starts to arrive, simply notice it and turn your attention back to your breath. Naturally, it’s easier said than done, the mind panics when it notices you are sending away its thoughtful guests! That’s where consistency is key. To learn more, check out a local Zen or Shambhala center that offers introductory programs.
- Channel your inner-Rocky. You don’t need to pound out slabs of meat to stay present, but you can exercise. How good do you feel after a really heart pumping workout? It’s awesome and I’m sure you aren’t focused on certain annoyances or the future. Find an activity or class that you feel excited about. It’s a great time to do something positive and not have to have any kind of agenda.
- Eat mindfully rather than mindlessly. You just got home from a shit-tastic day at work and all the irritating moments are ruminating in your brain. Before you know it, you look down to find you’ve unwrapped and eaten almost a whole bag of Hershey kisses. You never even took the time to stop and taste it! Food is a great tool for your ‘in the moment’ utility belt. You can allow yourself to let your thoughts fade and just take delight in what you are eating. As an alternate to the whole bag of kisses, you could take out just three and put the rest away. Take your time removing the wrapper and let the chocolate just melt in your mouth, without any sense of urgency. You’ll find that you are in the now and more satisfied.
- Get frisky. One of the more fun present moment opportunities to take pleasure in can be in-between the sheets with your partner. I’ll admit it, there have been times where my mind has drifted during sex and it’s been a total buzz kill. Your companion feels less confident and you’re missing out on an opportunity to truly feel uninhibited and connected to another person. So instead of laying there trying to calculate your calorie intake for the day or wondering how much you’ll burn from the session (which frankly won’t be much if the other person is doing all the work!), change your position and the whole dynamic will transform. Be prepared for an explosive finale.
- Say hello! How many times have you tried to avoid conversation? Ever see someone you know on the street and turn coyly to dodge having to speak to them? It could’ve even been someone we liked but were too caught up in our own circumstances to take the time. Conversing with others, whether acquaintance or stranger is pretty vital to our existence as a society. It’s been hardwired in our brains, so when we avoid chatting, we are also escaping living now. It doesn’t have to be extensive or time consuming. Just a hello to a coworker in the hallway or asking how your cashier’s day is going. You never know what might happen! A friend of mine struck up a conversation with a barista at Starbucks and they’re now married. Just be open to the possibility.
- Praise YOU. One of the strongest ways to be present is to give yourself daily accolades. Being kind and befriending your own self can go a long way. You can start small, like acknowledging how well you accessorized your outfit or stayed within your budget for the week. Or go big and prance in front of the mirror saying how fabulous you are. It’s really all about reminding yourself of the things you are doing right, and in turn building a stronger level of self-confidence. You’ll be radiating positive in the moment presence without even realizing it!
Of course there are countless other ways to be present and this is just a sampling of how every day routines can be turned into more enjoyable and fulfilling experiences. Have another way to be more present you’d like to share? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
*Shout out to Rebecca Steele from iPEC!!