Many of us are so used to living in the past or the future that we have no awareness of what being in the present means. Recent research has shown that we are not as conscious as we think we are. In fact, we are unconscious most of the time as we move about our day, with […]
By TJ Bartel
Many of us are so used to living in the past or the future that we have no awareness of what being in the present means. Recent research has shown that we are not as conscious as we think we are. In fact, we are unconscious most of the time as we move about our day, with only specific decisions making their way into our consciousness. Because of this, we struggle to live in the present because our mind swings from thought to thought, only briefly settling somewhere that captures our truest form of attention. To become more mindful and present in your life, focus on these three areas.
Thinking about yourself and how you appear to others takes you out of the moment. When in a situation you already feel anxious about, focusing on the anxious feeling worsens it. Instead of focusing on what’s going on in your head, think instead of what’s happening around you and how you are a part of that. Mindfulness blurs the line that exists between yourself and others. Without feelings of self-consciousness, you’re able to witness the passing of feelings and perception of being evaluated by others without feeling threatened and taking it personally.
Being so caught up in our thoughts prevents us from truly experiencing and enjoying our own lives. Instead of appreciating what we’re experiencing, we think of when the next time we’ll get to experience this again is or how the experience could be better. Learning how to direct your attention allows you to become an expert at savoring the present moment. No matter what the moment is, take note of how you’re feeling in all of your senses. Taking a few extra minutes to savor daily activities helps you to feel more joy and happiness and fewer depressive symptoms. Savor the taste of food, rather than gulping it down. Savor the feeling of fresh air as you walk to your car rather than re-playing what happened in your meeting. Savor the smell of your favorite cologne, perfume or lotion to bring yourself into the moment. Because the majority of negative thoughts involve the past or future, thinking in the present forces you to stop ruminating on the past and stop catastrophizing about the future.
When faced with pain or discomfort, our natural reaction is to avoid it. Resisting unpleasant feelings and thoughts means you don’t have to face them. Humans have two types of emotions: primary and secondary. Secondary emotions are ones that we feel around other feelings. When we feel stressed out about being busy at work, the primary emotion is the stress surrounding your workload. The secondary emotion is hating feeling stressed. Instead of fighting these emotions, allow yourself to take them in. Be open to how you feel in the present moment without judging your feelings or trying to push them away. Focusing on your secondary emotions instead of feeling your primary ones actually prolongs the negative feelings. Accepting these emotions doesn’t mean you like them and want to feel this way forever. It instead means that there are some things you can’t change, and how you feel right now is one of those things. Accepting your feelings doesn’t mean resigning to them.
Applying these three techniques will help you develop PRESENCE. When you are able to bring your presence to each situation in your life, be it at work, in your relationship, or even when hanging out with friends, the quality of your life experience will increase dramatically.
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