I don’t know about you, but I tend to focus on the future. Let me rephrase that: I am always worrying about the future. Can I pay my bills? Do we save enough for retirement? Should I have another baby? Are we going to have to move again? Should I advance in my career field or try something new? The trouble with this is, by focusing on the future, I am missing out on what is right in front of me. Because in reality, all we have is the present moment. Worrying about the future or focusing on regrets of the past only hold us down and keep us from truly living and enjoying life. We have to accept the present moment as it is, right now. Right this very moment. We have to let go of any judgment and just let it be. Accept each moment as if it were supposed to unfold exactly this way. If we don’t do this, we miss out on life. If we worry about the past or the future we will literally live our entire lives without having lived. I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t want that. So what can we do about it?
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you will ever have.” – Eckhart Tolle
I have a few things that have helped me focus on the present moment and the more I utilize them the happier and more peaceful I become. I think it is certainly worth your time to explore some of them and if you do, let me know what you think.
- Slow down
That’s right. Stop rushing through life because you are missing it! Slow down, enjoy, and embrace each moment. Watch your kids play. Smell the flowers. Relax with a glass of wine and watch the sunset. These are the things that bring moments of joy into our lives. Life is built on moments. But we have to slow down in order to fully experience them.
There are a few simple meditations I like to do first thing in the morning to set my mind in the right place for the day and I will share them with you here. First, is a simple breathing exercise. Sit comfortably and focus on your breath. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply. As thoughts enter your head imagine yourself letting them out of your body with your breath. Do this until your mind is still. Or 5 minutes. I mean, come on, we don’t have all day to do nothing. I get it.
The other one I love to do is a grounding meditation. First close your eyes and sit comfortably. Breathe in and out and as you breathe out imagine that roots are growing from the bottom of your feet into the ground like a tree. Then imagine they grow deeper into the earth with each breath. If you want to go further with this, sometimes I imagine that my breath is helping to grow grass, plants and flowers spreading from my feet through my yard, the neighborhood, my beautiful state of Arizona, my country and eventually through the world. This meditation helps ground you and connect you to the earth. Don’t go crazy with this one: 5 – 10 minutes is plenty.
- Try yoga
There are all kinds of yoga styles. Find a style that suits you. For those of you that think sitting down with your thoughts (ie meditation) sounds horrible, you might enjoy something more active like this. Try yoga for 20 or 30 minutes in the morning each day and see how you feel. Get a guided exercise on your phone or buy a DVD. There’s no need to go to a studio (but if you want to, by all means go for it!)
- Start your gratefulness practice
I love this and I do it every single day. I have found that it pretty much eliminates my negative thinking. Try waking up each morning and thinking of 3 things you are grateful for: 1 in your personal life, 1 in your business or career, and 1 about yourself. For example, I might say, “I am grateful for my amazing family, my flexible job where I can help others and my empathy towards people I meet.” Hit all 3 points everyday and the perspective of your entire life will change. Want an extra challenge? Think of 3 things in each area each day and write them down in a journal. Then later when you are feeling low read the journal to remind yourself of how great you have it.
- Take deep breaths
Every time you feel anxious or rushed, slow down and take a few breaths. Before driving. Before eating. Before running errands or dropping off your kids at school. Use some classic deep belly breathing to reset your frame of mind and focus on the now.
Simple enough right? And not too much of a time suck I hope. The key is to enjoy the present moment. I’ve given a few suggestions that have helped me but you may not need any of these. Just focusing your attention on it may be enough. Always remember, right now is a gift. Each moment is over in a flash and if we don’t embrace it, we are missing it.
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” – James Lanchard (…but more frequently & wrongly attributed to the Dalai Lama)
So today I challenge you to focus on today’s experiences and truly LIVE. Life is so short. Don’t let it pass you by.