How to Enjoy the Present Moment

A bit of a confession to make here: I find it hard to be in the present moment. 

I don't mean that life isn't enjoyable- it is and I'm blessed!  What I mean is that, as an introvert and an achiever, it can be hard to truly, deeply enjoy being in each present moment.  

Without wishing I were somewhere else...

Without imagining doing something else...

Without wondering if I should be adding something else to my current activity...

Can you relate?  Some signs that you "suffer" (only partially kidding) from this affliction too include:

  • Finding it hard to relax
  • Not truly listening when others are talking
  • Always dreaming of a different _______________ (job, house, situation, etc.)

Some good news recently emerged and it's not clear what caused it.  Maybe a realization that my kids won't be at home forever or a new job change that has given me more margin to enjoy the little things in life... I'm not sure.  

Still, I'm grateful.

Rob Bell has a wonderful book called How to be Here which I'm hoping to pick up soon. It may be apocryphal but missionary Jim Eliot has that stellar quote about the present moment, "Wherever you are, be all there."  David Allen (creator of the Getting Things Done movement) also has a lot to say about being fully engaged in your series of present moments, 

 "In order to feel comfortable with whatever you’re doing, you need to feel OK with what you’re not doing."

So that you can maximize your own experience of the present moment, I suggest trying the following:

  • When you listen to someone else, put everything down, look them in the eye and listen.  Pause before you respond.  Make a connection.
  • Stop rushing.  If you have too many things to do in your day, you may consider crossing some of them off the list.  This will free up time, space and mental bandwidth.
  • Practice morning rituals like prayer and meditation.  I'm puttering around with the Headspace app and I like it a lot.  
  • Look people in the eye.  Play a game where you try to see their eye color and then remember that later in the day.  This will help with paying attention to the other person.
  • Use technology less.  Check out Cal Newport's recent talk on the power of giving up social media.  
  • Do things you love.  A walk, a workout, a meal, a book... whatever.  By doing one or two things you love each day, you'll learn to savor the present moment with ease.

Enjoying the present moment is like flexing a muscle.  It takes time.  It takes practice.  You can do it.