Most of spend our time split between three areas: 1. the past, 2. the future, and 3. the present. If you are like most of us, you spend only a tiny fraction actually in #3…the present. How odd is that? We really only have one real time – the present – and we only spend, lets say 20% of our time residing there.
We sit around thinking about what we’ll be doing next, not even paying attention to what we are doing right now. Then our minds flit to some past event, and we spend time critique, maybe regretting, what we should / could have said about this or that to some person, maybe a person that we perceive as doing us harm. We move from worrying about a future that will never exist (your imagination is about as far from the real future as it gets), or fretting about a past that will never exist again. All the while spending no time in the only time that does exist.
How strange is that?
As an example, you might sit there at work thinking about the rest you’ll get on the weekend and how much fun it will be to see your friends, thinking how tough work is and how hard it is to advance in the company, and maybe that that other person got a promotion when you clearly deserved it more. However, If you work to spend time in the present, you’ll end up focusing on the task at hand, which will result in your do better and your being more productive. This will end up leading you to becoming more happy and satisfied. You will know that the work you did was the level of work that you are capable of. All this and you will actually feel less tired at the end of the day.
So, simply spending time in the present will make you happy, healthy, more productive, and more rested. It is as close to magic as I’ve ever seen.
Try this to help you slow down and being in the present. Next time you are in a car and there is someone that gets in front of you and is driving slow, just slow down behind them. Do not rush past with a frustrated glance. Just slow down. Enjoy this moment. What are you experiencing at this moment. Anxiousness? Acknowledge the feeling. Breathe in.
Now feel your hands on the steering wheel. Feel your foot on the gas pedal. Acknowledge your distance from the car in front of you. Listen to the traffic sounds. How often do we drive without even being aware of driving! Take a deep breath and thank the driver in front of you. They have given you a great gift. You are now aware that you are here, now. If it helps you from getting frustrated, think that this person is saving you from an accident that may have occurred if you were speeding along. Or a ticket. The point is that you should be thankful for this experience.
You might be saying, ‘wait, I’ll be late.’ I say, if you got the ticket or in an accident, you’d be really late. Plus, you might find that you are actually not late at all. Time is relative, after all.
Here is the take home:
- Remain in the present at every opportunity
- Use environmental clues to help you slow down
- Look for opportunities to find ways to become more grateful