With our busy schedules, it is so easy for us to miss out on a day and fail to be present. Many leaders and parents I work with, for example, tell me that when they go to bed at night, they realize that all they did that day, was make decisions and solve problems.
They missed out on stopping and smelling the roses. It’s a problem for most of us, and you really don’t want to miss a lifetime by being a compulsive “doer.”
Mindfulness and presence are merely awareness of one’s current experience. It’s just being “in touch.”
For example, there is a big difference between writing up a report at work, and realizing I am so bored with this, I wish I were playing a video game. There is a big difference between trying to get your kid to do his homework and realizing I feel somewhat helpless, frustrated and a bit angry right now.
As Allen Saunders said, “Life is what happens to us when we are making other plans.” So here are some tips to help you be more mindful and present in your daily life.
Tips For Being More Present
Value being present. Just think about what a loss it would be to miss out on experiencing life. Yes, we all have tasks and goals to accomplish, and we all want to be successful. But the longitudinal research of human lifetimes indicates that people who did nothing but work and engage in tasks tend to have huge regrets as they age. On the more positive side of the coin, why do we take so many smartphone photos? We know that experiencing life is essential and valuable. It brings meaning to what we do.
Schedule it. I set my digital watch to go off every few hours in my day. It is a reminder to stop whatever I’m doing (unless I’m speaking to an audience), and just be aware of what I’m experiencing. I haven’t found it helpful to just reflect on my day when I’m ready to go to sleep. For me, that’s a form of missing out. Nor does it work for me to tell myself, Ok, be mindful today. We have too many tasks crowding our mental reminders in the first place. But a little alarm does the trick for me.
Don’t Miss on Life
Deal with the categories. There are several types of experiences and emotions corresponding to our experiences. Just take a couple of minutes and ask yourself these questions.
- General well being: How am I feeling right now in general, positive or negative? Are you happy, content, feeling connected, full of energy? Or are you somewhat down, discouraged, anxious or overwhelmed? Don’t go into solutions mode here, you can do that later. You need the practice of being aware of what’s going on inside you first, and that will help with the solutions.
- Relationships: Who are you having feelings about right now? It might be your spouse or significant other. It might be a friend or coworker. It might be your child. It might be the person who just cut you off on the freeway. People trigger lots of feelings in us. I share five ways mindfulness can improve your relationships here.
- Activities: How are you feeling about what you are doing? Are you fist pumping because you just crushed it at work? Are you irritated at yourself because you missed going to the gym again?
- Past: Are you feeling something about a past event or relationship? We can be currently mindful about our histories. You may have lost someone who comes to mind, and you may be sad for a bit. Or you may remember a great vacation and want to savor what that was like.
- Future: What future events are you anxious about, or dread? Which ones do you look forward to? Just bring these to mind, and understand why they are important to you. You can discover why time is your most valuable currency here.
So don’t miss out on life! Be mindful as soon as you read this blog. Best to you.