7 Day Shift Your Mindset Challenge-Being Present
Many of us are single parents these days, but even if you aren’t, you know how the daily grind and laundry list of to-dos can take up all the time and space of every day if we let it. My fiance and I are both guilty of this. Therefore, 7 Day Shift Your Mindset Challenge-Being Present is today’s goal. I want to focus on being more present and connected with myself and my family.
Why Is Being Present So Important?
Being present (sometimes also referred to as mindfulness) is the practice of just focusing on the NOW. To me, it’s not so much about the breathing and yoga-type mindfulness, but more of just being aware of the present moments.
Ruminating Over the Past
Many of us tend to focus on the past, and the future, not really on the present, unless there is some sort of crisis going on. The problem with ruminating about the past is that there is nothing about it we can change.
No amount of guilt, turning it over and over in your mind, projecting it onto other people, or reliving it is going to change it. This has been something I struggle with to this day, which is one of the reasons I made this a part of my challenge.
It’s a very destructive habit because you are robbing yourself of the freedom of the present. By that I mean, in this very moment, you have made it though the past…. it should no longer have power over you.
Worrying About the Future
Focusing on or worrying too much about the future can also rob us of the present moments. I feel like I missed much of my son’s younger years because I was so focused on climbing the corporate ladder and proving to the world that I could “do it all”. In reality, I was neglecting my son.
Not neglecting his basic needs like food, clothing, housing, ect…. but I didn’t take the time to just BE with him-to just sit on the floor with him and play the games he loved. I needed to clean the house, pay the bills, and take care of other tasks instead… that’s where I believed the focus should have been.
I was too focused on completing tasks that I didn’t stop and savor the precious fleeting moments of his childhood. You may have similar experiences with loved ones who are no longer around, or kids that have flown the nest.
How To Be Present
But in trying to follow my own advice, I’m not going to beat myself up for the past, but I WILL focus on just being in the moment as much as I can going forward.
Being present in our romantic relationships is critical as well. It can mean the difference between just coexisting contently, and feeling truly connected to your partner. For example, instead of giving the hurried goodbye peck and rushing out the door, stop and look into your partner’s eyes with a smile.
Give them a longer, lingering hug and kiss. Notice how they feel in your arms-how they smell. Really take it all in!
Health Benefits of Being Present
Being present is also crucial to your own well being. Scientists have concluded that practicing mindfulness can reduce stress, prevent heart disease, improve sleep, and relieve gastrointestinal disorders. It also has a positive effect on mental well being by being an important part of treating and preventing depression, conflict, anxiety, and eating disorders.
It’s Even In The Bible
Coincidentally, the weekly message the pastor of my former church posted online was exactly about this. It’s from Matthew 6:25-27:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
A great message to remember, even if you aren’t a believer. It’s basically saying that even the least of the living creatures is provided for, so don’t you think you are even more important? And does worrying add anything good to your life? The answer is NO.
How Did It Go?
Lately, I have been waking up to an anxious feeling, most likely due to worrying too far into the future about my income, my son’s success, my success, my relationship, … and the list goes on. Today when I woke up, I made a focused effort to paying attention to my thoughts.
When thoughts of the past or worries about the future popped in my head, I immediately refocused. It may sound crazy, but I literally said, “STOP”, and turned my focus to the warmth of my bed, inhaling the lovely smell of coffee brewing. I listened intently to the cheerful sounds of the birds outside of the window. I simply laid there for a few minutes and focused SOLELY on these things.
It was amazing how quickly the angst in my stomach went away! Additionally, I applied the process to my work. I completed what would normally take me hours in about 45 minutes. I didn’t check my phone, and I didn’t think about tomorrow or yesterday, or what chores had to be done. Maybe there is something to this “mindfulness” thing!
Out of all of the challenges in this series, I think this one is probably the most significant. If we think about it, being present and mindful is probably the one thing that makes all the others easier.
That pretty much does it for Day 4-7 Day Shift Your Mindset Challenge-Being Present! Come back tomorrow to see the challenge for Day 5.