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I'm guilty of it all the time. I over think everything. I worry about unnecessary things. I make to - do lists and am constantly ticking off the things I have done and what I have yet to do. I look forward to events coming up and count down to planned vacations. I spend so much time looking ahead or getting caught up in the past that I forget to live in and enjoy the present.
I've been actively engaging in creating my own happiness. After recent events in my life, I've made it a priority since it has taken a back seat for so long. One focus of that happiness has been to encourage myself to be present in the moment.
The past few months for me have been full of heartbreak, loss, and disappointment, but they have also been full of love, support, growth, and joy in a way I haven't experienced before. I've learned that my happiness is directly reflective of my attitude and perspective. I've learned how to enjoy every second of my life for what it brings and what it teaches me. Sometimes I find myself falling into old habits, but I use these six things so that I can come back to the present moment where I want to be.
1. Eat Slowly and Enjoy Your Food
This may seem like a silly one, but I never realized how much my mind wandered elsewhere while I ate. I used to use meal time to think about the things I haven't gotten to yet, zone out while watching TV, or replay interactions from throughout my day. I would find myself lost in thought and sometimes not even remember eating what was in front of me. Now I try to slow down and think about what I'm eating and enjoy it. It not only has helped me stay in the present moment and enjoy more of what I eat, but it has helped me to be mindful of what I'm eating which has -- bonus -- helped me lose weight!
2. Focus On The Task At Hand
As someone who gets bored very easily, I have always let my mind wander when I'm doing mindless tasks. Now, I try to stay in the moment. When I focus on the task in front of me and think about what it brings to my life or how it makes it better, it helps to ground me. When I'm cooking, I focus on the ingredients that I'm using and how blessed I am to be able to cook for my family. When I'm running, I focus on my breathing and take in the sights and smells around me. I think about how lucky I am to be healthy and how running brings me peace of mind that carries through the rest of my day.
3. Just Breathe
Pausing to take a breath -- or three or five -- has helped bring me back to the present moment so many times I've lost count. It seems so simple -- and it is -- but it is also more helpful than you realize. I suffer from anxiety and I have for as long as I can remember, but the one thing that has always helped me when I feel things spinning out of control is taking long, deep breaths. When we focus on our breath and do it with intention, it helps to get back into the present moment instead of getting lost or reactive to our emotions.
4. Say Something Positive
When I find myself getting caught up in other things, I try the breathing technique to ground myself, and then I say at least one positive thing about the current moment or situation I am in. If I'm stuck in traffic and feel road rage building up, I take a few deep breaths before telling myself that I'm lucky to work for myself and have the flexibility in my schedule that most others do not. If I'm feeling extremely self-conscious in a certain situation, I take a three long breaths before picking things out that I do like -- a part of my outfit, a personality trait, etc. It helps me make better choices for myself and enter situations with confidence.
5. Use Your Senses
This one builds a bit on the first one. When I am feeling lost or anxious, when I'm focusing too much on the past, or when I'm worrying too much about the future, I try to tune into my senses. I look at what's around me. I focus on the sounds that I hear. I touch the fabric of my clothes, feel the steering wheel in my hands, or run my hand across the finish on my desk. I feel the warmth of the sun on my face or the cold wind that brings goosebumps to my skin. All of these things helps me reconnect with the moment at hand so that I feel calm and centered.
6. Do One Thing At A Time
This one is the most difficult for me to do and I still struggle with it. I am a multi-tasker. I think I was born that way. In some circumstances, it feels impossible to do only one thing at a time, but the more that I incorporate it into my life, the more I realize how valuable it is. Doing only one thing at once forces you to focus and engage in what you are doing. It allows you to put everything you have into whatever you are working on. It helps make your actions deliberate.
As this year closes and we get ready to embark on a new beginning, I look forward to fully experiencing every moment of 2016, but am working on connecting with the moment now and staying there as long as possible. I hope you do, too.