It is often easy to spiral down into a whirlwind of obligations and responsibilities and to live governed by the items on your to do list. But sometimes, you just have to put your phone down. Turn off your computer. Sit still and just look at the window. Breathe in, and out. You get the idea: learn to be more present.
What does it mean ? It is just an expression to encourage you to live in the moment, to be more mindful, more aware of what is going on around you right now. Being more present provides great benefits, such as reducing stress, improving mental clarity or increasing productivity and motivation. But how to achieve it ?
I’m going to share with you some of my tips to help you appreciate the “now”. Here we go.
- Do not multitask
Multitasking has become commonplace today because of our smartphones, computers, social networks… I often find myself reading my e-mails as they come even when I’m working on a project. I’m also prone to use my phone while watching a movie, or when studying. However, what we perceive as multitasking in fact really just is reporting our attention from one thing to another. When reading my emails, I’m not working on my project, and when scrolling on Instagram, I’m missing parts of the movie. This mental exercise forces our brain to constantly change its focus and recalibrate on the new thing we’re doing, which means the quality of the main task we hoped to achieve (the studying, the work project…) increasingly decreases the more we “multitask”. Conclusion : by not focusing on one task, not only you are not really appreciating what you are doing, but you’re also self-sabotaging your work and weakening your productivity !
2. Be still
Living in a dynamic, always changing world, learning to be still can appear to be really tricky to some of you. We always have something to do, somewhere to be, someone to talk to while our attention span keeps getting shorter and shorter. Taking a break can sounds crazy when you feel like you are overwhelmed, so it might sound even crazier to take a break to do…nothing ! You heard me well. Whether you choose to do it in the morning, after lunch, at night, just take 5 or 10 minutes for yourself. Sit comfortably on the floor or on your bed, close your eyes, and just breathe. Try to empty your mind instead of listing the items you have to buy for your grocery haul, or the tasks you have to complete before tomorrow. Just be.
3. Enjoy with all your body
Too often we put on perfume in the morning as a habit. Too often we eat our food while reading the news or watching TV, or we just gulp it down because we’re in a hurry. That kind of behavior does not do us any favor, and it is not rewarding towards our body – our senses especially. Instead of getting caught in your daily whirlwind, just re-appropriate some of your daily actions to yourself. Really smell the perfume you’re putting on. Be aware of the food you’re eating : focus on it, look at it, smell it, taste each ingredient and the combination they create. In a way, this is some kind of meditation too, and a lot linked to the idea of being still.
4. Let go of your anticipation
The urge to plan, to know what’s coming next, how your day will go is natural to a lot of us. Nevertheless, constantly living in a state of anticipation, thinking about tomorrow and pending tasks worsens considerably the quality of your life in the moment because you are not able to appreciate it. The problem is ? When tomorrow comes, you’re not “there” either, because your mind is already focusing on the day after – and so on. I’m not saying that you should not plan, and do whatever you want – yolo, you know ? – no. I’m just saying that there is only a certain amount of things that you can do so that your day goes well and according to your program. But mishaps happen, and there is nothing you can do about it, so just relax and let things unfold on their own.
5. Put things in perspective
As I talked about in the second point, things are going fast today, and it is easy to let one problem ruin your day. But sometimes, things do not go your way, and it is not your fault, there is nothing you can do about it except learn to accept it. Think of it that way : when something goes wrong next time, just think about the bigger picture, put it in perspective. Will it matter next week ? Will you remember it one year from now ? The chances are… probably not, so why sweat it now ?
Finally, one last important thing in order to learn to be more present is to connect with your friends and family. There is nothing more fulfilling and satisfying than a good deep conversation with someone you care about. You will share, you will learn, you will grow. And while talking, of course, turn off your phones, and really immerse yourself in the exchange.