How often are you truly present in any given moment? You’re not thinking about what happened yesterday or last week. You mind isn’t two steps ahead planning out what you’ll do when you get home, or next week after you get paid. It’s right now, in this moment.
How often does that happen?
I’m guessing for most of us, it doesn’t happen all that often. In fact, I’m betting it happens a lot less frequently than you’re willing to admit.
We live in a crazy busy world that values ‘busy’ as a sign of worthiness. We’re all rushing from one appointment to the next and trying to grab snippets of time along the way to catch our breath. Packing our schedules is the norm. Sharing how busy we are is celebrated.
Stop and smell the roses, ain’t nobody got time for that!!
But, if we want to truly find joy in our lives and look back on our lives with satisfaction, we need to stop the hustle and bustle every now and then to be present and in the moment.
So, what does it mean to ‘be present’? We hear it all.the.time, but for us type A worker bees, what does that really look like?
Honestly, as with anything, I think it varies per person. Being present and in the moment won’t look the same for me as it does for you, but if we strip it down to the bare bones, I believe it means noticing where we are, what’s going on, and how I’m feeling right now.
It’s not thinking about what I’m going to have for dinner, or what I’m going to do this weekend. It’s not worrying about what happened at work yesterday or reveling in a joyful memory from last week.
While all of those are perfectly normal things to do, and I’m not suggesting that you never do that (that wouldn’t be practical), it’s consciously turning off all that noise, pressing the brake, and just stopping where you are and noticing.
I make a conscious effort to do this when I travel, but even during a normal day, I like to try to pause, close my eyes, take a breath, and just experience what’s happening in that moment.
One of the truly beautiful outcomes of this little practice is that it allows me to practice gratitude. I notice the light breeze on my skin, or the smell of the coffee brewing in the kitchen, or the sound of my co-workers laughing nearby.
It grounds me, it centers me, and it helps me notice where I am and to be grateful for each moment of each day.
One of my favorite things to do, is what I call, creating a memory...
Creating a Memory
When I travel, or when I’m experiencing a truly joyful moment, I like to take a moment and just stop and, as I mentioned previously, pay attention to the moment and space I’m in.
I will consciously note the world around me, the smells, the sounds, the taste (if I’m eating something at the moment, or the taste in the air), and I’ll physically reach out and touch something. I engage all five of my senses and intentionally create a memory.
Basically, I take mental photograph of the moment so I can recall it later. Sometimes this happens unconsciously, but my favorite memories are those where I intentionally noticed everything around me and committed it to memory.
Sometimes, I’ll journal about the moment, but usually I don’t need to…it’s stored in my mental archives so I can pull it back out when I want to relive that moment.
And, it doesn’t have to take long! When I was in Budapest this past summer, I remember on my last night there, we were walking across the Elisabeth Bridge and I stopped for a second and touched the white beams of the bridge and just took in the moment to create that memory. My friend had no clue that’s what I was doing and it didn’t take more than a second, but it’s there in my mind for me to retrieve when I want to take myself back there.
We live in a crazy, busy world that flies by way too fast. It’s the little moments in life that create our world and reality. If we don’t take the time to see it and experience it because we’re too focused on what’s next and what was, we miss out on an important part of our lives.
We owe it to ourselves to slow down for a minute or two throughout the day to create memories and be grateful for all the ways we’re blessed…both the big things and the little things.