Admittedly, for me, living in the present is not as straightforward as it sounds. It is so easy to be drawn into memories of the past and dreams of the future that the present gets lost somewhere in between.
I have come to realize that my environment has a dramatic effect on my ability to hold onto the present. It is much easier for me to be in the present when I am on vacation. Like most people, that is when I am the most relaxed. That’s when I live in the present without having to be mindful of it.
One of my favourite things to do while on vacation is to wake up early and walk to a coffee shop with my husband. Enjoy the smell of the coffee and the fresh baked breads, the sounds of the city, watch people walk by, some rushing to work, some leisurely enjoying the morning. I sit there and soak up the blissful anonymity. Not thinking about anything else but the present.
I also live more easily in the present on the weekends, at home, in the quiet, as the fresh air blows through the windows. I have found that when I write in my blog or read a book I can hold the moment. It’s outside of these times that I need to be more mindful of living in the present.
I am not so naïve as to think that living in the moment will solve all of our problems but I do believe that there are very strong benefits to being mindful.
- Build Authentic Relationships
We have all met people who seem to be a part of a conversation but it quickly becomes obvious that they are simply waiting for their chance to interject and dazzle us with their intellectual prowess. They are not listening, they are not interested in what we have to say, they are not picking up on social cues, they are not in the present but rather thinking of the future and so… they miss out.
We have also met people who are not involved in the conversation at all, are distracted, are more interested in texting someone else rather than interacting with the person who is right in front of them. They too…miss out.
It is easier to be in the present with people that you love and have strong relationships with. When you are having conversations with your family and close friends you are typically in the present and at ease. You are being your authentic self.
When you are interested in building and nurturing relationships, you must be in the present during your conversations. You must truly be there, be focussed. Remove the distractions, mental and physical, that interfere with the flow of the conversation. Don’t over analyse what you have said or plan to say, put away your phone. You will find your interactions to be more genuine and you will build rapport easily.
When you live in the present you have time to appreciate life. Let go of those things that are causing you stress. Be in the moment, feel the spray of the ocean on your skin, experience the beauty of a sunset, the smell of a newborn baby’s head. You tune in to your senses and the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Worries about the past or the future cannot survive in the present when you are busy experiencing life and what it has to offer.
Many of us have had an experience in life which motivates us to pause and tell ourselves that we need to worry less and live more, however the effects of such an experience are most often fleeting. We need to commit to enjoying life because, after all, we only get so many trips around the sun.
When you enlist your creative side you will be most productive when you allow your ideas to flow in the present. It is when you overthink something, dwell on how your last project turned out or on what people will think of your new work, that you will hit a creative block.
One technique that some writers use to help them get their ideas to flow is called the free write. You simply start to write. Whatever comes to mind, in the moment, and keep writing for 10 minutes or so. I have found this to be a great way to boost creativity. The barriers that interrupt creativity fall away, you don’t concern yourself with sentence structure, grammar and the like, you can go back later and edit your work. The main purpose is to get the flow started.
Planning for the future and reflecting on the past are definitely essential to life.
Perhaps if we dedicate part of our lives to be(com)ing present, we will get to enjoy all three notions of time and life.