One intention that I set this year was to live in the moment. This year I decided that I really wanted to be present. I want to be present in each moment without worrying about the next moment or regretting past moments. I made a commitment to myself to feel everything and to embrace each moment that I am in.
To put it mildly, this has been a major challenge. My whole life I have been a worrier. I worried about my family, my parents, all of the homeless puppies that I would see on t.v. and stories on the news. I would worry about anything from what my classmates thought about me to the chances of a tsunami hitting Syracuse, N.Y.
Still today I have to be aware of my thoughts and actively shut down any anxious thoughts in order to enjoy the moment that I am in. Sometimes I catch my mind wandering to the “what ifs” and then realizing that I missed an entire experience. Instead of focusing my energy on what I am doing, learning, enjoying and feeling I often find myself stuck in my future thoughts and worry.
Over the past six months, I have learned a few tricks that can help you focus on the moment that you are in and less on the “coulda, shoulda, woulda’s” that may be running through your mind.
1. Morning Writing: One exercise that helps to subside wonder and worry throughout the day is to write it out in the morning. For some, this may come in the form of to-do lists, for others a free write works great. Give yourself ten minutes in the morning to write out what you’re feeling or what’s weighing on your mind. That way, when these thoughts come up during the day you know they are safely in your notebook. Set aside time if you want to at some point in the day specifically to ponder what you wrote about, work on tasks written down or make decisions on your written thoughts. Sometimes though, just getting the thoughts out and onto paper in the morning is enough to keep them out of your mind as you are out thereL-I-V-I-N-G!
2. Snap out of it: I always have a hair tie on my wrist. Of course, sometimes I need it to put my hair up but a lot of times I use it to snap myself out of worrying or anxious thoughts. If I notice myself drifting into the land of “what ifs” I snap the hair tie on my wrist. This serves as a subtle reminder that you are alive and you are feeling something in that exact moment (even if the feeling is not so pleasant for a second). Use a hair tie or a rubber band, anything that you can snap real fast to reconnect with your body where it currently is and “snap out of” any thoughts that are taking you away from enjoying the moment that you are in.
By far, the hardest thing to do is to go more than a couple waking hours without checking your phone. I barely can do this one, but hey-- I’m trying! Next time you are on a day trip, at the beach, watching a movie with your significant other, walking your dog or having dinner with friends try to not touch your phone for a couple of hours. Enjoy the moment that you are in with who you are with. Your 600 other Facebook “friends” statuses will still be there and if you take some pics during these great moments, use “#regram” and post it later. Take in the experiences that you are in and be thankful for these moments; tweet it or tag it some other time.