I have spent entire weekends doing just about nothing. Maybe we headed to the park or to watch a movie. A lazy day. It would be the perfect day to be present. But am I present? Not so much. I am thinking about my to do lists, what I have coming up that week, what I should be doing. I’m never just in the moment. I’d like to blame the kids but I can’t. Even before kids I was always doing two things at once. . As I write this, a movie is playing in the background. I get almost panicky focusing on one thing. And yet to me, that is what being present is.
Being present is focusing on that one thing in front of me. Or at least that was my definition of being present in the past. I’ve realized it was an unrealistic expectation that I placed on myself and not totally consistent with what being present truly is. Being present doesn’t mean that you are simply focusing on one thing at a time, at least not to me anymore. Being present means that I am aware of what is going on around me. That I am in it. It might mean that I’m listening to music, having a dance party, making pancakes, while watching my kids play on a Sunday morning. Being present means even during that busy moment I stop and look around. It’s like taking a snapshot in my mind of that moment. No matter how busy I am, I try to take a snapshot in my mind a couple of times a day. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. I always feel better when I do.
Here are a few tips for how to capture more moments and be more present in your day:
- Set reminders. This might seem silly but until it becomes a habit to stop and look around at your surroundings, set a reminder on your phone or Alexa. When the timer goes on, practice some deep breathing, get outside, meditate, or simply take a moment to stop in the middle of your day.
- Block scheduling. This might be a surprising one but it’s one that Rielly and I both aspire to. When we designate certain parts of our day for different activities we know what we should be focusing on. Instead of constantly feeling like you should be doing something else, use the power of your calendar to hone in on one thing at a time.
- Take up a hobby that requires 100% of your attention. Learn a new language or an instrument. Maybe art is your thing. Anything that for few minutes a day you let go other things and simply focus on the task at hand.
- Journal. Whether you’re journaling about your hopes and dreams or about your day when you journal you are being present for that moment and this often forces you to stay present throughout the day.
- Meditate. I know, I know, we say this every time. Because it WORKS! Whether it is 5 minutes or 35 minutes taking the time to meditate forces you to be present for a few minutes each day.