• Kate Maxwell

Simple tips for being present in the moment

Updated: Oct 7

Nowadays life is so busy. If we don’t stop to smell the roses, each day seems to pass by in a blur of faces, colours and experiences, that come tomorrow we’ve already forgotten about. We convince ourselves that there simply isn’t enough time in the day, and that deviating from our planned schedule will turn our carefully constructed world upside down. But racing through life can mean we sometimes miss out on those small moments that can often have the potential to be big moments. Stopping for a breath every now and then can help us to reset, strengthen relationships or give us clarity when faced with a big decision. So how can we do it? Check out these simple tips below for bringing us back into the present, helping us to take stock of what’s right in front of us.

Active listening

Ever been in a conversation where you’re there, but not really present? Your mind is wandering or you’re already thinking about what you need to do next, or where you need to go? You’re not alone. Many of us – whether in a work meeting, or a catch up with friends can often find ourselves caught up in our own head, in turn only giving half our attention to the conversation at hand. It can be easy to identify when someone is not fully engaged with what you are saying. As a result people may find that they hold back in the information they are giving you, or not explain themselves or ideas fully. Bring in ‘active listening’. Active listening means you give your full attention to the individual and the conversation at hand. You are engaged with what they are saying and remain fully aware of content, tone and body language used. Active listening is also great for strengthening relationships, as both parties feel they have been both heard and understood. A good guideline to check in with whether or not you are present in the conversation, is to assess whether you are already thinking about what you are going to say next or what plans you have on for the remainder of your day. If you tick these boxes, then you are not really present in the conversation occurring in front of you.

Observing our surroundings

Looking at what’s in front of you sounds simple enough, but in reality we often observe life through brief glances. These brief glances mean we often register what’s around us, but don’t give us pause to actually stop and consider the beauty or appreciation of our surroundings. Be it a picturesque sunset, or the love our family shows us, taking a moment to stop and breathe these things in can help us to reset and find clarity in our busy day-to-day. However, observing your surroundings doesn’t have to stop with sight. No matter where you find yourself, or in what situation – you can stop to notice the taste, smell, or feel of the beauty around you. If going out for a walk, consider how the sunlight falls down through the leaves, or listen to see if you can hear birdsong up in the trees. If enjoying a delicious meal, take a moment to pause and savour the taste and texture of the food as you eat it. Becoming aware of these such things can help to slow down our busy brains, allowing us to focus on one small positive in the world, if even just for a moment.

Making the most of opportunities

Living in such a structured world definitely has its advantages. We put routines in place to help keep up with our busy day-to-day, pushing us to achieve more and increase our productivity. However, sometimes these same routines can leave us trapped. If an opportunity comes our way, we may turn it down for fear that it will disrupt our carefully constructed plans, convincing ourselves that we couldn’t possibly make time for anything else. As a result, we potentially risk a lot of life’s best moments passing us by. Such plans don’t need to take up a lot of time – it may be grabbing coffee with that friend you haven’t seen in ages, or taking a quick detour to check out that waterfall you’ve always been meaning to go to. These moments are often the ones that we remember, or the ones that can turn a bad or average day into a good one. While routines and regularity are what we need to get us through each day, if we don’t stop or allow for some enjoyment and happiness to come into that plan, then life will sidle on by before we realise it. Read here about the importance of a good support system.

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