But being “present” is so hard!
Tonight was better. I just sounded a few mental alarms. Yesterday was best because no mental reminders had to be set, but Tuesday. Oh Tuesday! Ringing and chiming and buzzing echoed through my mind. “Be in the moment,” they all seemed to say, over and over again!
BUT being in the moment is HARD!
I struggle with this so much, especially when life becomes stressful and unexpected. Within every instant, it seems that I jump to the next. When I decide to spend time with friends, I inwardly agonize about the work I should be completing. However, if I choose to stay home and complete the tasks, I morn the lost time with friends.
Obviously, this isn’t healthy!
But haven’t we all been there? We find it difficult to be present, and even harder to savor the present. Instead, we’re bombarded with current stresses, fears of the future, to-do lists, and retrospective considerations as to how we could have done something better. Honestly, though, isn’t this exhausting?
I’m tired of stressing over newly assigned work tasks, when the love-of-my-life is sitting across from me on a dinner date, and a big plate of freshly rolled sushi sits between us. I’m sick of my wandering mind that starts preparing tomorrow’s checklists while I’m out spending time with friends. I slightly blame our phones and social media for an increased inability to stay present. Constantly, so much is happening around us, and it’s hard to focus on any particular thing.
Excuses aside, being in the moment is a societal issue, and for me, avoiding in-the-moment moments only creates more stress. Thus, the cycle continues. Therefore, I’m going to strive for a present-centered sentiment. Here are three mantras I intend to use to help me stay in the moment:
- Accept the moment. Accept its difficulties. Dive head first. I fret….a lot. I let this fretting overcome, and I end up spending more time dreading the task than actually rolling up my sleeves and attacking. Obviously, this prevents me from being in the moment, and I know I’m not the only one who probably responds this way to stress. So let’s focus on breathing through these moments!
- Notice, appreciate, and honor what’s new in every situation. Life can become so repetitive. We take the same commute to work, the same walk to the coffee shop, the same restaurant on Fridays, and are assigned the same tasks at work. If we make a conscious effort to notice something new with every activity we encounter, it’s much easier to remain in the moment.
- “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” Okay, I adopted a Zen proverb for this one, but it hits home so hard. I get distracted by the shiny thing, and pursue that before I finish what’s right in front of me. This proverb encourages us to stick with one task at a time, focus on only that task, enabling us to truly appreciate it, whether it’s writing a proposal for work, pouring water for coffee, dancing, cooking dinner, washing the dishes or talking with a friend. Further, if we deliberately and slowly complete these activities, we can increase our attention to the details of whatever it is we are doing and can do it better.
I realize the intent of living in the moment is far easier said than done. I’m sure I’ll sometimes forget these mantras when the stresses mount, and, let’s face it, when the hormones change. But perhaps having the awareness and some mantras in my mental arsenal will guide me productively through instead of allowing stress to take the reigns. Today is a new day, yesterday was history, and right now is a brand new moment ready to be relished and celebrated. Let’s try to be a little more moment-minded as we go through this Friday and into the weekend. Life is too short not to use these moments, see something new and appreciate the here-and-now! What are some ways that help you stay in the moment?