Today, I wanted to talk about staying in the present moment…
How often are we thinking of all the things we need to do, or missing someone, or getting angry at forgetting something?
you with your mind in the past –>🙁
you with your mind in the future–> 😣
you with your mind in the present –> 🙂
When you have your mind set to the past, you are thinking of all the things you should’ve done, words you’ve said that you could take back, time not spent with a loved one, etc..
It doesn’t have to be all bad either! You could be thinking of the time you went on vacation with a significant other, maybe remembering your child’s first steps, relishing in that time you got promoted…
However, what do all of these things have in common? They are not attainable anymore. They are memories, no longer existing in the real world. The only place these things exist are in your head. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe that reflection is a beautiful part of life! However, it is when you get lost in these memories or have them effect your current emotional and mental state that they become a problem.
I’ll give you an example. The other day, I woke up ready to get work done! I had all these great ideas floating around my head, and I couldn’t seem to get them down on paper fast enough. I was on a roll! It was exhilarating feeling these thoughts flow through my brain and into reality!
I felt a plastic tube hit the back of my head. Confused, I turned around and saw my two and four-year-olds play fighting with plastic straws.
“Okay,” I thought, ”that was RUDE, but it was an accident. They weren’t watching where they were going, they were just being kids..”
I started to feel my concentration fade. All those lovely whirlwind thoughts disappeared. I was left with only what was written on my paper.
“Kids! Go Play Somewhere Else I’m Trying To WORK!” I said sternly, desperately trying to grasp back on to my epiphany moment.
The kids got sad, their little faces drooping from getting in trouble. They slowly walked to their bedroom to play with their doll house.
“You were too stern with them, they were just playing. They’re just kids, you shouldn’t lose your temper on children, you should really go apologize, this work isn’t really as important as spending time with them.. maybe you should buy them a toy to show them you love them.. but then are you just feeding into a materialistic world where love is equal to materials? No, go spend time with them BUT I HAVE TO FINISH MY WORK I WAS REALLY GOING STRONG! No, no, it’s rubbish anyways, you’re working far too much and they can see that. Go take a break and show your kids you love them so you can raise them right.”
What happened there? I got distracted for a moment from my current world, my current thought processes and tipped ever so slightly into the past. Even though the past was only a few minutes ago, I allowed it to distract me to the point I became frustrated at being interrupted, then shameful for not spending time with my kids. I got even MORE distracted by the inner voice telling me that my ‘Fix It Quick’ thoughts weren’t good enough – but none of it had happened yet!
Quick Mind Dive: Name a time in your life you brooded over a seemingly small event that took hours out of your life. i.e. someone making fun of you, missing a deadline at work, arguments with a significant other, etc.
How did you react? What could you have done differently to improve the outcome?
While some people brood over the past, others can’t stop thinking of the future. I don’t know about you, but how many times have you woken up for the day, realized you had a thousand and one things to do on your task list and decided to go back to sleep, because it all felt too overwhelming? Sometimes, when we feel like we have too much to do, it can drive us to inaction. Nothing makes me more sleepy than a full ‘To-Do’ list!
Some people LIVE in the future, and NOT in the ‘I have a Goal and am keeping my eye on the prize’ type of way. Have you ever heard a worried mother frantic over things that could happen to their kids while their playing?
“Don’t stand on the couch, you can sprain your ankle! Sit on the chair correctly, you could fall and hurt yourself!”
Though the person is doing this out of kindness, their anxiety is not helpful. Best case scenario, the kids do as they are told and learn not to take risks because something could happen to them. Worst case scenario, the kids learn how to live an anxious lifestyle, seeing everything for the danger it presents and not for the opportunity for growth.
So how do we stop thinking in the future? How do we control those anxious thoughts?
Thinking of the future can seem daunting in your mind, especially when you don’t know where to start! Some experts recommend to write down all the things you need to do in your life and start with the smallest things first, to show yourself that you are progressing. Other experts say to write down all the things you need to do and start with the BIGGEST tasks first, that way you get the most important ones done first. For me, I think it really depends on your personality. And you know what? BOTH experts have at least one thing in common – start by writing down your list!
When you have a large list of things to do, start by writing them all down in one place.
Here are some other helpful tips and tricks you can do to help stay present:
- Practice mindfulness by focusing on your 5 senses in the present moment – what do you hear? see? taste? touch?
- Focus on your breathing, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Do a task that focuses your mind back in the present such as washing the dishes, folding laundry, sweeping, etc.
- Go for a hike – use all your senses to observe what you see.
- Journal your thoughts. I like this one especially since I feel it is a good way to get the ever-swirling thoughts out of my head. Once I write it down, I feel I don’t have to worry and try to remember it anymore.
- Take a bath.
- Grab a cup of coffee or tea.
- Step away from your phone, computer, social media, etc and enjoy a short stretching routine. Here is an hour of foam rolling for your whole body.
Stay present, my friends.