If you aren’t being present, you aren’t fully living: it is up to you to take control of this.

Being present and enjoying each moment for what it is has been a serious struggle for me in the past. I am the kind of person who has ten thousand things going on in my mind at all times and I often catch myself mentally in another place (the worst part is that I’m not even thinking about cool things, it’s often thoughts like what is the best route to clean my car, pick up groceries, and get gas, BORING). While this may seem beneficial to our success and may even seem necessary to keep all the balls in the air, the only thing it does is remove you from the moment you are actually in, therefore causing you to not be able to fully enjoy any moment that is occurring. The worst part about this is we often feel burnt out and unhappy way more often because even when we do engage in “down time” or “girls night” we aren’t fully there and then we end up even more exhausted.

It may seem obvious to try to be present and enjoy each moment, but actually carrying this out and living that type of lifestyle can be a lot more difficult with the amount of distractions, triggers, and never ending to-do lists we have in our lives. There is always something that has the ability to pull us out of the moment unless we learn to harness these thoughts and take control of them. Worrying is one of the biggest ones I struggle with, it is the one that we tend to justify because we feel as though thinking about it will help us solve the problem. Unless you are actually going to make a change in that exact moment then it is not worth allowing your mind to become consumed by these thoughts.

What I have come to learn is that each moment is special in its own right and we owe it to ourselves to practice being present. It will become easier to do and before we know it we will be enjoying the shit out of our lives all the time and we won’t have to always prime ourselves to be present.

How can we become more present?

  1. Ask yourself, what do you want to get out of each situation? If you are heading to girls night and you want to make sure that you are present and aren’t allowing your mind to drift towards your to-do list or what is on the agenda for work the next day, ask yourself what you want to get out of your evening. Is there a certain topic that you have been dying to discuss with your girlfriends? Is there somewhere you have been wanting to check out but haven’t had the time? The second you leave your house to spend time with your friends that is your time. Your time to disconnect and enjoy the moment. If you have something nagging on you to get done, schedule in time to do it either before or after and then stop thinking about it. You cannot do anything about it once you head off to hang out with your friends so there is zero point spending time thinking about it. This habit will take practice and you may even need to prime your friends once you arrive that you may need their help staying present, and this could also help them too because they may be going through the same thing.
  2. Don’t overdo your to-do list. I know this may seem impossible and you may want to smack me for this but take a step back and really allow yourself to analyze your to-do list. First of all, I can’t be the only person in the world who continues to put something on her to-do list without actually getting it done. At the sake of sounding a little to Nike, JUST DO IT. I have had “Call CRA” on my list for a month, I just kept re-adding it. And then I finally sat down and just called. And now that is off my mind and I don’t have to worry about it. If you are reading this and you have some tasks on your list that you have been putting off, cross a couple off right now. Just get them done. If you catch yourself mindlessly scrolling through instagram use that time to knock something off your list. And then going forward, start to make more reasonable lists. Only add things you know you will actually get done that day and move everything else to a master list that you can refer to when you have extra time. The worst feeling in the world is finishing work for the day but having that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that your list is still a mile long.
  3. Do less. Sometimes it can be hard to feel present because we have just packed our schedule way too full. I have done this one too many times. I have crammed more events into a day than I should and as a result I spend a lot of the time wondering if there will be traffic on my way to the next event, if I brought what I needed, if I will offend someone by leaving. Give yourself a break and only commit to things that a) light you up and b) you can actually manage without any unnecessary stress. This will take time and practice but as you create space for yourself, the universe will respond accordingly and support you in your pursuit of your best self.
  4. Take a deep breath. If you notice that you are not being present in the moment take a second, take a deep breath, and give yourself space to come back to the moment. There’s nothing wrong with letting our mind wander, just make sure you are happy with where it’s going and that it’s not causing you to miss valuable moments in the here and now.

Start with these three steps and see how they go. It’s not the big life changes that make a difference. It’s the small things we do daily that allow us to live our best lives. Being present is the essence of life. It is something that should be second nature but it requires some work and that work is so worth it.  

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