How To Feel More Present
When I was younger, my mom used to tell me that the older you get, the quicker time passes. My mom is known to be a bit dramatic so, I didn’t really take her seriously but lately, her words have proven to be alarmingly true. It’s happened so many times lately—I’ll think I just saw a friend last week but that was actually five weeks ago, or I’ll find myself with just 12 hours before a trip that I could have sworn I was just jotting down in my calendar yesterday, but that was three months ago. My sense of time is completely off, but it’s always off in the same direction: I believe that far less time has passed than really has. When I get in bed at night now, I envision one of those montage scenes in a movie where you see the main character crawl into their blanket night after night after night, with a whole week passing in 30 seconds. I’ve had to learn ways to be more in the moment to prevent a meltdown. On that note, here are ways you can feel more in the moment.
See yourself from the outside
Think of the way someone else would see you right now. For example, I’m currently so focused on writing this but, if someone were to see me, they’d see a girl calmly enjoying sitting under a palm tree with a breeze on her, donning cute sunglasses (what? They are) and being contemplative. Ah. That’s so much better than the way I was feeling about this moment. I just needed some outside perspective.
Remember that you always wanted this
There was probably a time when you were younger when you couldn’t wait to…live in a big city, be a working professional, have happy hour with friends to look forward to in a few hours, and have an apartment you love. You wanted time to hurry up and get you to this phase of life. Well, guess what? It’s here. Do young you a favor and savor it.
Start each morning a little different
If we start every morning the exact same way, a dominos effect happens and we live the whole day the same way. Do something different every morning. Maybe you dance to pop music for five minutes, or go outside and find an animal to pet, or stop by your elderly neighbor’s door and ask if she needs help with anything.
Don’t play music when you drive
I know that playing music or listening to a podcast helps the drive go by faster but…uh oh…isn’t that the opposite of what you want? Look at the buildings. Look at the trees. Look at the family walking. Look at this great city. Maybe you aren’t stuck at a red light: maybe you’re paused next to an adorable mom and pop restaurant where the elderly owner is proudly putting candles on the tables.
Don’t talk on the phone while you run errands
Talking too much on the phone is a waste of time anyways. Save those conversations for real life, when you can fully enjoy a person’s mannerisms and facial expressions. Talking on the phone while you do errands pulls you out of the moment and makes you feel like you’ve lost time when it’s over.
Look at your surroundings like a movie set
Close your eyes for a moment, reopen them, and look at your surroundings as if you’re looking through the lens of a camera. Suddenly, the street isn’t crowded, loud, or messy: it’s the perfect setting for the first scene of a romantic comedy!
Think of being 90
When you are 90 years old, you’ll miss this day—this day that today you think is tough. When you’re 90, what you’ll remember is having energy and feeling hopeful. You won’t remember the traffic or the fact that a restaurant got your order wrong.
Remember the unexpected may occur
Fixating on the future is actually rather senseless because so many things could change—there could be so many adjustments coming at you from all around the universe right now—that are changing the direction and path of your life as we speak. You could be wondering how you’ll tolerate this one neighbor for another year when, for all you know, she’s about to get a job across the country, move, and have someone you love take her place.
Get up 15 minutes earlier
If you start your day feeling a bit behind, that feeling tends to compound, and you rush through every thing until suddenly, it’s time to go back to bed. Just getting up 15 minutes earlier could gift you with surprise little pockets of down time when you can literally stop and smell the roses.
Make more time for friends
Any time you get together with good, childhood friends or your family, you’re making good use of time. You’re pulled away from ego, your identity in your career, your finances, and all other things that are fleeting. Being in the presence of love and comfort has a way of making you feel very present.
Spend time alone in silence every day
Even if it’s just for ten minutes, take time every day to sit in total silence, all by yourself. It’s okay—everything can wait ten minutes. It’s important to see that the world doesn’t fall apart when you pause for ten minutes.
Smile at yourself in the mirror
Smile at yourself in the mirror, making eye contact with yourself, for a full minute. Remind yourself of the lovely person who is about to make her way through this world today. Doesn’t she deserve to be in the moment?
Make something with your hands
Making something with your hands is very grounding. You could get into knitting, sculpting, sewing, or crafting. You’re very aware of and in touch with your physical body when you make something with your hands. When you’re on your computer, your mind is off somewhere far far in cyber space.
Have time when time doesn’t matter
Give yourself a little time each evening when time doesn’t matter. Promise yourself that for quite a while, you won’t think about time. You won’t look at a watch or a clock. You could just lie on the floor and look at the ceiling. But you won’t count down seconds, and you won’t look at a clock.
Hug a loved one, with no end in sight
Usually, when we hug a loved one—including our pets—we have some sense of when it needs to end. We’re aware of how long we hug them, and we think there is an appropriate time to let go. Don’t do that. Just snuggle with your loved one, with no sense of urgency—with no feeling like you need to cut it off.