“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
This tidbit of Ferris Bueller wisdom is probably even more relevant in today’s fast-paced society than it was at the time of the movie’s release. Between our phones, our careers and the Internet, there’s always something pulling our attention away from the here and now. It’s easy to let minutes, hours and even days slip by without a second thought.
Here are 12 things you can do to help you live more in the moment:
1. Holster your phone
Our phones are probably the greatest source of distraction in our lives. Even at important meetings or events, if we hear its telltale buzz, we’ll try to discreetly check it under the table, incapable of disconnection for even a short length of time. So, holster your phone! Force yourself to unplug. When you want to engage with the moment, turn it off or set it to silent so that you can focus on what’s going on around you without interruption.
2. Pay attention to your senses
Focus on the way the breeze feels against your skin. Really experience the taste of your coffee in the morning. See, smell and hear what’s happening around you. It’s easy to dismiss our perceptions as background noise when we’re distracted, but such a multitude of rich experiences await if we simply engage with our senses- even when standing in an elevator or sitting in class. The smell of aged textbooks or the feeling of air conditioning ruffling your hair can truly be an incomparable experience.
3. Get enough sleep
When we’re tired, it’s hard to focus on anything. Being short on sleep leads to wandering thoughts and a general inability to concentrate. This makes it very difficult to be present in the moment. Getting a full night’s sleep is important to revitalize the mind and enable it to engage with the world.
Many forms of meditation exist, but all cultivate a greater presence in the moment. The brain is trainable, and regular meditation can actually alter thought patterns, leading to a more present mindset both during its practice and throughout everyday life.
5. Connect with nature
When hiking through a buzzing forest or gazing across a mountain range, its hard to care about anything but the present moment. We evolved in the natural world, and reconnecting with it reminds us of our roots and the true nature of life.
6. Spend less time on social-networking sites
Social networking can be addicting. However, the life you lead online is a fabrication, a virtual reality- nothing compared to the real thing. Many get sucked in to this online world, though, placing far too much value on their profiles and how their lives appear. Spending less time worrying about your online persona will leave more time for actual living.
Physical activity puts you in touch with your body and its capabilities, which can help you experience things more fully. When your heart’s racing and the adrenaline’s flowing in those last few minutes of a workout, it’s hard not to be in the moment, experiencing each sensation, even if some are unpleasant.
8. Think about death
Reminding yourself of your mortality will help you appreciate life and each moment you still have. It may sound macabre, but contemplating the shortness of existence will only make each moment matter more to you, and you’ll live each more fully.
9. Choose your friends carefully
Pessimistic friends can put a very negative spin on life. It’s important to surround yourself with people who raise you up rather than bring you down. Who we choose to have in our lives can have a great influence on our lifestyles, and choosing the right kind of people will lead to a more positive outlook and a more present mindset.
10. Reign in your thoughts
When we engage in relatively mindless activities such as driving or eating, our thoughts tend to wander from the moment. When this happens, reign them in. Lasso them and force them back into the now. Pay attention to your actions, to the way things look around you. Focus on the external world rather than your internal world.
11. Don’t multitask
Instead of catching up on email and watching Breaking Bad while you eat lunch, just eat lunch. You can’t be fully present in the moment when your attention is split between ten different things. Focusing on one activity at a time will help you enjoy each more fully.
12. Do what you love
If you find your passion and pursue it, you won’t find your mind wandering away from the moment or drifting to other things because you’ll want to experience what you’re doing. When you’re doing what you love, you won’t have to actively engage with the moment- you will live for it.
Featured photo credit: Egor Gribanov via en.wikipedia.org
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