The other day we traveled to Miami where we met a special friend who was visiting the U.S. We went to a place called Wynwood Walls, an amazing area full of giant canvases on warehouse walls of color and life. It was so revitalizing to be surrounded by so much creativity that my daughter and I just kept saying how happy we were to be there. I loved every minute of our visit. I was happy to be with the people I was with, not thinking about the menacing gray skies that were promising rain any minute, the chilly wind, or the fact that we had a long list of things we wanted to do. None of that mattered, because we were enjoying the now. I must confess, not every moment of my life is like that. My head is usually full of dispersed thoughts and often I am trying to do several things at once. But that day I was completely engaged in the moment and I loved it; now I want this to be the norm and not the exception.
Have you ever gone on vacation and as soon as you arrived you got sad thinking that in a few days you would have to leave? Or waited for someone special to visit you, but kept thinking that the time will go by so fast that soon they will have to leave again? Or as my mom and I sometimes do, we sit down for lunch and while we eat we start thinking what we are going to prepare for dinner. Learning to live in the moment takes a lot of practice because usually our minds are full of many things. We keep going from one thought to another without stopping to enjoy the present. Even if it is hard we should not be discouraged, it is worth to keep trying to slow down and “smell the roses” not only because it is a wonderful way to live, but also because enjoying the now greatly benefits our body and mind. According to an article by Harvard Health Publications, mindfulness, which is living in the moment, improves well-being, physical health and mental health. It helps relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties and it helps in the treatment of problems such as: depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
An article of Psychology Today states that mindful people are: “happier, more exuberant, more empathetic, and more secure. They have higher self-esteem and are more accepting of their own weaknesses. Anchoring awareness in the here and now reduces the kinds of impulsivity and reactivity that underlie depression, binge eating, and attention problems. Mindful people can hear negative feedback without feeling threatened. They fight less with their romantic partners and are more accommodating and less defensive.”
These are enough reasons to get us excited about living in the moment, aren’t they? But the question is, how do we do it? I think deep inside many of us may know the answer, but for some reason we just don’t seem to find the time to put it into practice. How about starting today? One small change in our habits could help us enjoy each moment even more.
Here are some ideas to get started:
- Eat without distractions (that includes electronic devices, writing or talking on the phone).
- Eat slowly, look at the food you are about to eat, and focus on the aroma and flavors.
- Do one thing at the time.
- When sitting down with someone for a coffee or having a conversation, put your phone in a place where it can’t be seen.
- Look at people in the eye when they are talking to you.
- Take time every day to do something you love.
- Face problems; deal with one at the time.
- Make a list of things to do. Include in it time to do what you love.
- Celebrate what you accomplished during the day instead of focusing in what you didn’t do.
- When feeling overwhelmed, close your eyes and take a deep breath.
- If possible, take a nap, even if you don’t sleep, just close your eyes for a few minutes.
- Take time to drink your tea or coffee without distractions. Even if you have to get up 10 minutes earlier, it will be worth it.
- Be aware of your surroundings and enjoy them.
- When giving instructions, do it slowly, one thing at the time looking at the person’s eyes to make sure they are understanding you.
- Be flexible, let things flow.
- Read just for the pleasure of reading.
- Be aware of your thoughts; you can decide what stays and what goes.
Living in the moment is all about being completely engaged. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes it as flow, a “complete absorption in what one does”.
It is possible to fully enjoy each moment we live, but remember that being mindful is an intentional focus, so for many of us it will not come naturally. But with practice and determination it could become a way to enjoy our everyday situations.
By Manuelita @manuelitaotero