Challenge: Be “More Present” in 2017
What does it mean to be “more present” and how can it assist you in your own personal and wellness goals?
Being present is the conscious practice of being engaged not only mentally but also emotionally. Engaged in what, exactly, you ask? The answer is going to be different for each person but is generally whatever is going on around you. It also means consciously paying attention to what you are doing.
One way to explain the difference between being present and not being present is to look at how much time you are spending “in your head” as opposed to experiencing life. One of the ways you can determine if you are present (or have not been present) is to recognize when you’ve lost track of time. Sometimes, this also feels like you weren’t aware of things that were going on around you for a period of time. For example, many of us can relate to “spacing out” while we are on a treadmill. Music might be playing in our ear buds but we didn’t hear it because our thoughts were elsewhere. We might have an audio book playing in our ears or be sitting in church but later we realize we didn’t hear a word because we weren’t being present.
Can you think of other ways you aren’t fully present? Ever sat down to watch a movie and halfway into it realize you somehow ate a family size bag of chips? What about while you are driving somewhere familiar or on a long stretch of road? We all tend to “zone out” and go into auto-pilot. Before we know it, we are at our destination and we can’t recall each moment of the drive home or to work.
Zoning out on the way home isn’t all bad. The important point here is considering what is going on in your mind while you are zoned out. What kind of “chatter” is taking place that is keeping you from completely being in the moment?
How can our Bodies Benefit from Being Present?
We can improve our physical well-being by being more present. When you are more fully aware and present, your body tends to relax. The reason for this is rather simple. When we are not present, we are usually worrying, planning or remembering things we need to do, things we forgot to do, issues that stress us out or possibly dreading something in the future. Your body is physically in the present. Therefore, even your past thoughts, memories or future concerns are felt by your body as something that is happening in that moment. As you can imagine, this is part of the way that stress and tension develop.
If you can increase the amount of time that you are mentally present, your physical body and well-being will benefit because you’ll be letting go of excess tension and stress.
Other benefits of being more aware and present in your daily environment include being more confident, having more energy, sleeping better and having better memory. All of these benefits lead to a more healthy, happy YOU.
When you make the conscious decision to switch from not present to being present, it’s a definite switch with purpose and intention. For most of us, it doesn’t come naturally and it takes practice. There are many ways to be more present. For some of us, it’s a matter of walking away from digital devices, spending more time away from Facebook and other forms of social media. For still others, it can be a simple matter of breathing deeply, wiggling your toes or just taking the time to intentionally notice the texture of your clothing, the colors in your office or the sounds you can hear at this very moment. (Just run “ways to be more present” into a search engine for great ideas. We found this one called 12 Simple Ways to Be Present.)
Experts say that as we keep practicing at being more present, it will eventually come naturally without our thinking about it so much. But make no mistake, it will take an intentional effort on your part to become more present daily. The pay offs include better relationships, lasting marriages, career fulfillment and promotions, physical fitness, more energy, better sleep and so much more.
So, take a few moments and practice being more mentally engaged with your surroundings and those around you. It’ll make 2017 your best year yet.