Do you ever get thoughts like,
Whoah, this week/month/year went by pretty fast…
and somehow that spirals into,
THIS TIME ON THIS DATE WILL NEVER EXIST AGAIN AND ALL OF THE TIMES AND DATES BEFORE IT ARE GONE AND NOW I ONLY HAVE THE FUTURE WHICH IS GOING TO SLIP AWAY BEFORE MY EYES AND MY LIFE IS BASICALLY BORDERING ITS END.
Yeah, me too.
I’ll remind you that I am seventeen years old, so claiming that “MY LIFE IS BASICALLY BORDERING ITS END” is a tad dramatic. Nevertheless, time flies.
I know, I know. Cue the yawn and eye roll. You’ve heard it a million times.
But time really does fly. There is no way to change its pace, so the responsibility to slow down falls on us. To truly live in the moment and embrace the present requires acting with intention rather than out of habit. The changes you make don’t need to be extravagant, though; you can practice presence in simple ways every day.
Put down your phone
How often are you on your phone?
The answer is most likely: too much.
I know I’m guilty of texting a friend to make plans while in the middle of having lunch with another, or checking people’s Snapchat stories instead of focusing on my own life. Our devices do a fantastic job of transporting us away from the present moment.
Because reaching for your phone is probably habitual, try setting a wallpaper on your lock screen that will remind you to think twice before using it. Also, prevent your phone from distracting you by turning it on “Do Not Disturb” mode. You will begin to realize how much more of the world you can appreciate when you’re not too busy staring at your screen.
Break free from routine
We live on autopilot a lot more than we realize.
You wake up to your alarm at the same time each morning, drive to the same location, eat the same soggy sandwich for lunch, sit in the same spot on the couch once you get home…
When every day is structured to be nearly identical, your routine becomes second nature. There is never a need to stop and think about what you are doing.
By altering your routine, you awaken your senses and snap yourself out of autopilot mode, thus bring full awareness to the present. Take a new route to school or work, start a conversation with a stranger, turn dinner into a picnic, make spontaneous plans with friends…anything to shake things up a bit!
One thing at a time
Everyone thinks they are a good multi-tasker, although in reality, they aren’t. I hate to break it to you, but you’re probably no exception. Neither am I (…even though I sometimes pretend like I am).
When you try to do too many things at once, your attention becomes divided. Not only does this slow you down, but it also takes away from your ability to enjoy each task in its entirety. If you are eating a meal while drafting an essay while watching TV…you will never be able to wholly appreciate the flavors of the dish, finish the essay in a reasonable amount of time, or fully unwind to your favorite TV show.
I am the queen of accompanying my dinners with Grey’s Anatomy and bouncing back and forth between a zillion tabs on my computer, so know that I ain’t perfect either, folks. But I definitely think that making the effort to focus on one thing at a time is a change for the better!
Quiet the noise
In a world that is so fast-paced and cluttered with noise, a moment of silence is rare. And when that moment does come, we often choose to fill the gap with more noise.
I play music while driving, watch Youtube videos while getting ready, and listen to podcasts while taking walks. These are all opportunities to immerse myself in silence, but silence can be…boring. Uncomfortable. Maybe even scary.
Noise is numbing; it distracts us from certain emotions that we might not want to deal with. Truly feeling your feelings is difficult if you have the tendency to criticize them. But instead of constantly suppressing your emotions, allow them to surface and observe them without judgment.
Welcome more silence into your life. Lower the volume and give yourself a chance to ponder, explore your imagination, and simply breathe.
Listen without thinking ahead
When you converse with someone, how much do you actually listen?
Instead of devoting our full attention to what another person is saying, our own thoughts can easily distract us. You may have a story that you’re just dying to tell, so you become restless as they speak. Or maybe you get anxious that there will be a lull in the conversation, so you constantly plan out what to say next.
Approach conversations with interest rather than anticipation. Learning to listen without letting your mind wander into the future will allow you to fully embrace the present moment.
Develop Mindfulness triggers
It’s impossible to be 100% present all the time. However, setting some type of reminder to do so can reel you back into the moment when you begin to stray away from it.
Choose a certain action to associate with bringing your mind into the present. For example, walking through a door could be your mindfulness trigger. Whenever you touch a doorknob, be reminded to detach from your routine and focus on the moment you are in.
You can also choose an object as a trigger, like a ring. Anytime you see the ring on your finger, take a few minutes to tune into your senses. Observe your view, notice the sounds around you, identify any scents, and recognize how your body is feeling.
I hope you enjoyed this post and found these tips helpful! How do you live in the moment and practice presence?