Living in the Moment
This post ties into my earlier post Two Small Steps. The second goal I want to work on this year is to live more fully in the present. I'm not referring to dwelling on the past or daydreaming about the future, but rather focusing on where I am at any given moment, what I'm doing, and why. Also, who I am interacting with and how.
Staying focused has always been a monumental challenge for me. As a child I was a daydreamer whose mind often drifted out the windows of the classroom. As an adult I struggle to stay on task, finding my mind flitting from one thing to the next until I force it to settle in and pay attention. The same goes when working around the house... you know the story... you go to the bedroom to get your shoes... oh the bed needs making... as you start that, you see a sock lying on the floor and suddenly you are sorting the laundry basket. Heading to the laundry room you notice the soap supply is low and before you even start the washer you've headed off to make a grocery list... and in a few short minutes time you've completely forgotten about retrieving your shoes.
Problems staying in the moment don't occur just when I'm by myself, even more importantly they surface when I am socializing and interacting with others. My beloved husband and I will be watching a tv program that we both enjoy. But I'm not good at just sitting with empty hands, so before long I have scooted over my laptop table to check out Facebook or switched on my iPhone to see who has played their turn in Words With Friends. Before long he is prompting me to look up at something important in the show or to read text that is appearing on the screen. Then I feel bad and realize I have only been half-present in sharing the moment, I've allowed my mind to wonder off and play, and in doing so missed not only the full content of a good program, but I also missed out on sharing quality time with my husband.
What is this need to be busy all the time? Why is it so hard for me to just relax and be present, to take in what is happening around me without wandering away? I know that my mind goes at full tilt, there are always many thoughts swirling, just as in the illustration above. When I'm talking about one thing, I'm often thinking several steps ahead, and sometimes leave out important details in the communication because of it. Even at night the hamsters in my head continue to run in the wheel.
This year I really want to work on being present... on living in the moment. Otherwise I'm missing out on half my life because I'm off wandering in the clouds. I'm missing out on getting tasks accomplished and more importantly, I'm missing out on precious moments that I am able to spend with the people I care about and love. When I am with them I want them to feel that I am there, fully connected.
I know that some of my behaviors are more compulsive routines than anything. If my hands are free and the iPhone is in reach, I am going to pick it up and see what's new. If the laptop is at hand I'm going to flip it open. Obviously then, I need to move these items out of reach and maybe out of sight for periods of time. If I can do it at work, I can do it at home too. How often does one really need to check their Facebook? I have a friend who has challenged herself to review it only once in the morning and evening. Not a bad plan. Would I go thru withdrawls? :-)
When it comes to completing projects, I need to excercise my mental ability to resist the temptation to flit to other items, and train myself to stay more focused on the task at hand. Perhaps I can reward myself for completing something quickly and directly until it becomes more of a habit.
When it comes to people, I need to focus on them, on my love for them, and on my interest in them. I need to pay attention to their words, their faces, their gestures... what they are saying and what they are trying to convey. I want them to feel that they are important to me - because they are!
Starting today I am going to work harder at staying in the moment. This way I can be ever vigilant for opportunities to make a difference, for ways to add a bit of brightness to the world. Rather than wander thru life aimlessly, I am going to love myself enough to move purposefully in the direction of the person I want to become... at one with the world, and at peace with myself.