Who said 'stop and smell the roses'? According to those3chicks, the highest ranking site on my related google search, it was a golfer and that is not the original phrase. It's also an album title used by Ringo Starr and did you know Hong Kong Chinese are more chilled compared to their equivalents from other countries - http://www.scmp.com/article/437520/rich-hongkongers-smell-roses
As I performed that search specifically for this blog post I also went off and searched for Christmas gift ideas, checked out a couple news sites ( BBC, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, Bristol post, The independent, Russia today ) and also chatted to friends on whatsapp. I flicked between many browser tabs, my laptop and my iphone allowing every little thought and impulse its own chunk of energy and attention.
I easily get distracted by the plethora of rapidly spawning thoughts I can have (suffer) at random moments in the day. It degrades focus, and can stop me living in the moment. By this I mean actually taking a step back and taking stock right at that exact moment on where I am, how I am feeling, what is around me, etc. Sounds a bit sensitive right?
Let me try and give a better example of how not living in the moment can actually be damaging.
Have you ever spent a Sunday dreading your impending return to a job you dislike/hate the next day Monday? If so how beneficial was that feeling and all those negative thoughts? I'll bet it would have ruined your weekend and most probably affected relationships with your nearest and dearest as you became tetchy and agitated. It probably made you resent your job more because of this poached timed and robbed you of any motivation to try and fix things because you weren't thinking straight. Certainly happened to me all too often and was a massive fucking frustration!
I just wished those years back when I suffered the wasteful weekends stressing I could have just switched off and just ignored those thoughts, even for a brief time.
For me the best method to ground myself has been and will continue to be mindful meditation. I certainly don't advocate this for everyone, just what happens to work well for me.
I think living in the moment can actually reduce stress, taking a moment to appreciate what you currently have rather than stress about what you are missing in life or the what if's.
Let me give a current example on why living in the moment is important to me.
My girlfriend can currently only visit at weekends due to her job. Next year should get easier but for now that's the time we get.
Each time I see her it's good, really good. There is around 5 days between each visit but they quickly fizzle away when she's with me and it feels like we've not had any time apart, everything feels so normal and comfortable. As a freelancer with no defined hours it is nice to have a weekend to look forward too and she is definitely a good thing to wait for.
It's all good.
But when she leaves Sunday it isn't all that great. It has got easier as we've become familiar with this inevitability but there is still that blue feeling. Since it is only around 2 days I get with her the last thing I want to do is waste that time thinking about the fact she will be leaving. If I start doing that then I'll start to feel down. Then I'll start acting down, that will affect her, waste her well earned weekend, it'll all just make for tarnished time.
Am learning that living in the moment can also be beneficial by having a positive effect on those around me due to my mood. That really is a no-brainer isn't it!
Live in the moment, appreciate the present. The more I've worked at it the more I've appreciated the weekends with her and that makes things feel even better! I am also more aware when I am letting my thoughts drift and can reset my thinking , this definitely helps when concentrating on work. Really seeing the benefits right now!
So how often do you live in the moment?
Try right now.
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