When Reflecting Back and Looking Forward, Don't Lose Sight of the Present
Dec 03, 2020
As humans, we spend so much of our time looking back or planning for the future and as a result, often lose sight of the moment we are actually in. Our human brain is wired to function like this. It likes to look back and analyze things that have happened in the past. It also likes to look to the future to plan and to look for potential danger, however, this often results in our feeling stress, anxiety, or worry. With all this activity, how do you get your brain to remain focused on the present moment?
With some effort, you can train your brain to spend more time in the present moment. There are many benefits to this including those listed below.
- Being present allows you to enjoy the here and now when things are going well.
- Being present allows you to experience and process difficult emotions when they arise.
- Being present allows you to have increased focus and attention on what you are doing today that will benefit your future.
- Being present allows you to form deeper connections with others because you are in tune with them instead of being distracted by other things.
- Being present helps reduce stress and worry because you are focused on only what is happening in the moment.
- Being present allows you to have a better overall experience of life because you are living it in the moment.
So, how do you learn to be more present in the moment? It can be challenging due to the way your brain is wired, as I mentioned above, in addition to all the distractions we have in our lives. Whether social media, the internet, video games, Netflix, or television, all these outlets pull you away from be attentive to what is present in your life at any given moment. I am not suggesting that this is a bad thing. Entertainment can be very positive. What I am suggesting is that the goal is to be intentional about when you are seeking distraction and when you want to be present in your life.
Some tips for being more present in your life include:
- Schedule your time throughout the day. Block off time for things like scrolling social media and other entertainment. Block off time to do focused work. Block off time to plan (thinking about the future) and/or reflection (thinking about the past). Block off time to have undistracted communication with others. You may not need to schedule time for each of these things each day, however, when you do have things scheduled, you are telling your brain where to focus so that you can accomplish what it is you are looking to accomplish.
- Remove distractions. I know that if I have my phone on my desk that I will be tempted to pick it up and check email, social media, etc. Due to this, I intentionally have it across the room where I don’t see things flashing or hear any notifications. This allows me to focus on the task at hand, so I am much more productive and efficient. I also do this when spending time with my husband, other family, and friends. How many times do you see a group of people sitting together and they are all on their phones the entire time? Putting your phone away where you can’t see it will allow you to focus on the people you are with, which will increase your connection with them.
- Train your brain. Just like you train the muscles in your body, you can train your brain to be more present. While there are many ways to do this, I believe one of the most powerful ways of doing this is through Mindfulness Meditation. I started this practice during a very stressful time in my corporate career and saw a significant reduction in my stress, as a result of being able to stay present in the moment, within just a little over a week. You can see results with as little as five minutes of practice per day. If you would like my step by step process for how to do this five minute per day practice, you can get it HERE.
I would encourage you to try to stay present in the moment as much as possible. It will deepen your human connections, reduce stress and worry, and increase your overall productivity. We all could use a little more of that, right?!
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