A 2010 Harvard study reported that on average, our minds are lost in thought almost 47% of the time. I can’t imagine how much that number has increased in the last few years…
“Now we’re not here for that long anyway, but to spend almost half of our life lost in thought and potentially quite unhappy, I don’t know, it seems tragic, actually, especially when there’s something we can do about it…” – Andy Putticombe, co-founder of Headspace
And that something we can do is take 10 minutes out of each day to re-focus on the present moment. Focusing on what you’re doing in the present moment is powerful enough to change the trajectory of your entire day and even, your life. We cannot change every little thing that happens to us each day but we can absolutely change the way we experience those things…but only if we’re present. Constant mind-wandering is a direct cause of unhappiness and it’s a sure way to repeat the same mistakes, miss the big lessons and all the awesomeness that’s happening right now!
So, how do you reign in your thoughts to be (and stay) present? The minute you start to lose focus, stand up and stretch to refocus on the task at hand (mindful movement). Or, schedule 10 minutes each day to think on all things current – how do you feel, what are you doing, what lessons have you learned today, what are you excited about right now?
Challenge yourself to do both each day. Practice mindful movement – standing to stretch and refocus your mind – and scheduling that much needed 10 minutes of mindfulness each day. The good thing is that if your mind is constantly wandering at least you’ll get a lot of stretching done!
The present moment is underrated. As you practice being more present in your life, consider all these benefits of living in the moment –
So many good things are happening right now!
Maybe you’re like me and you don’t have an internal dialogue constantly saying, “You’re doing good, girl, don’t sweat it, keep going!” Sometimes you literally need to stop for a moment, be still, look around and remind yourself that you’re ok and so many good things are happening right now! When you get too far ahead and lost in thought, you can’t see all the good that’s already here. Yes, there is a difference between settling and having aspirations but when those so-called aspirations make you lose sight of the awesome progress you’re currently making, it’s time to refocus. I always hear people saying that they’ll, “never be satisfied,” but honestly, what kind of life is that? What does it say about your work and your life that you can’t actually take time to enjoy the moment you’ve created and are living right now? If you can’t be satisfied with where you are, what have you been working for thus far? Yes, you can want more and strive for more but allow your mind to rest in the beauty of how your life is in this moment.
It might not take as long as you think.
Being lost in thought can trick your mind into thinking that it’s going to take a long time to reach your goals, which is linked to procrastination. The truth is that we actually don’t know how close we are to reaching our goals, and we can’t possibly know if we’re not focused on the here and now and taking action. This is the craziest thing but at the exact moment I’m typing this article, a friend just texted me saying she passed the test she’d been putting off for a year. This is a test she needed to pass in order to qualify for a promotion at work but each time we talked about it, she was so far ahead in her thoughts. She was focused on the cost of daycare if she and her husband had another baby, the bills that needed to be paid and the vacations they wanted to take, the jobs she might apply for and let me tell you…she was overwhelmed!! She was also procrastinating. When she took a step back into the present and took action on that test, she passed it right away.
Strengthen your mind-muscle connection.
For me, the gym is the one place my mind rarely wanders, but there are times I catch myself in the mirror and start thinking of all the progress I wish I was making. Aside from staying focused for safety in the gym, being present during your workouts will help strengthen your mind-muscle connection. When you focus only on the workout you’re doing in that moment and train rep for rep, you’ll create a more positive workout experience and boost all those happy workout hormones. Be present during your workouts and train because you love your body now, not because you’re only concerned with how it could look in the future.
Celebrate your non-scale victories.
Speaking of the gym, celebrate every non-scale victories. Those victories are all the positive things happening right now, in between reaching your ultimate health ad fitness goals. Some of these things are ones only you’ll notice – if you stay present! Some non-scale victories – jeans fitting better, skin looking brighter, losing inches that aren’t reflected on the scale, blood pressure and other health markers improving, getting off medication, having more energy all day and having fewer sugar cravings.
Unless you’re living off the grid, you’re living in our society that’s basically designed to distract you at every turn. To show you highlight reels of other people’s “perfect” lives and make you feel like you aren’t doing enough, making enough money or generally “winning” at anything. It’s tough to stay focused but it pays in the short and long-term. Start today by taking 10 minutes to get acquainted with the present moment so you can experience your life, show up for yourself fully and gain more clarity and calm in your life. And no, you don’t have to sit in silence, burn incense and repeat a mantra unless you just want to 🙂
Like that text my friend sent me, I’d love to hear how being present is working for you! What has changed, what new experiences are you enjoying and how are you making time to embrace the present moment? Comment below or tweet me @trinperkins