4 Roadblocks to Living Present
Do you like to people watch? Whether I’m at an airport or the mall, or simply stuck at a downtown intersection – it’s always interesting to observe the behavior of those around you. You know what I’ve noticed? We’re distracted.
You could even say distraction has become an art form. Seldom few even bother to look up from their phones as they cross a street or walk through a crowded store. And it’s not just technology that’s distracting us. We are a generation in a hurry – and one who wears “busy” as a badge of honor.
We’ve forgotten what it’s like to be present. When was the last time we were FULLY in the moment?
As I’ve been thinking about what it means to be present, I’ve come up with a list of what I feel are some of the biggest roadblocks to present living.
I’ve heard it said that worry doesn’t prevent tomorrow’s sadness, it only steals today’s joy. When we are allowing worry to consume our mind, we’re incapable of being in the moment. The “what ifs” and the over-thinking, and the endless loop of possible bad scenarios keep us in our head – instead of IN our life.
I am daily working to let go of my worries. I have learned to ask myself, “Is this something I can do anything about?” If it is, I figure out a reasonable action step I can take to solve or prevent the problem. But if it isn’t something within my control (and it’s usually not), all I can do is pray – and give that worry over to God.
I’m tired of letting worry over things I can’t know or control take me away from my everyday. I can’t control the future, but I can control what I do with my present.
I’m a blogger. Technology is a big part of my day to day life. But here’s the thing – I don’t want it to control or consume my life. I read this statement – “Don’t be distracted from the person who IS there by the person who isn’t.”
I love social media. It lets me stay in contact with family across the country, keep groups of people updated, and allows me to “talk” to all of you. But, social media has become an addiction. I’ve had to stop and ask myself, “What am I missing while I’m staring at my phone?”
I’m learning to set boundaries regarding my use of technology. If I’m with my kids, I want to be WITH my kids. If I’m on a date with my husband, I want to be looking into those gorgeous hazel eyes – not scrolling through a feed full of rants and memes.
I asked my kids and my husband how my technology use impacts them. If you’re ready for the answer, I challenge you to do the same.
Living in the Past/Future
Most of us will struggle with one or the other. For some, maybe you’re living in the past – constantly re-thinking a decision or figuring out the “if only” of something that happened or what you could have done to have things turn out differently. Maybe you’re haunted by a mistake or living with guilt or fear. It can be very hard to let go or move forward.
Perhaps you’re like me, and tend to live for the “next.” Maybe your life is a series of when-then statements. “When, I get xyz, then I’ll be happy….then I’ll stop worrying….then life will be good.” We’re the ones thinking about the weekend, that vacation later this year, when our kids are out of this stage/phase, etc.
The problem with both of these mindsets is that when we’re living in the past or the future – we are completely missing what is going on right NOW.
I loved this quote that I found – “To do two things at once, is to do neither.”
Have you ever tried to talk on the phone while being a mother of young kids? What about cook dinner while breaking up a fight? Fall asleep and think about everything you need to do the next day? Watch tv and read a book?
When we attempt to do two (or more) things at once, something will always get more of our attention. It’s hard to be in the moment when you’re doing twelve things at once.
Sometimes, we’re going to need to explain how to do long division while making dinner. Sometimes multi-tasking will even make sense (like audio books while driving!) But, I’m learning to channel my attention when I can, and choose to do whatever it is that I’m doing all the way. When I give something my full attention, the difference is stark. Chores get done more quickly. Books become more enjoyable. Conversations with my kids become memorable.
I’m not sure what keeps you from being present. Maybe you’re out there embracing your moments. (I hope so!) If you’re slowly beginning to realize that you have a few changes to make, just know you’re not alone. I am in this battle with you.
At the beginning of this year, my husband and I were talking about our vision for our family and I love something he said. He said that he wanted our family to be the type of people who don’t just read about doing things, or think about doing them, or talk about doing things – he wanted us to be people that actually get out there and LIVE.
And I guess I’m just tired of getting in my own way. I’m tired of living distracted. I don’t want to live in my thoughts. I want to live my life. Actually LIVE it. Eyes wide open. Savoring. Feeling. Experiencing. Moment by moment. Minute by minute.
It’s a bit cheesy and trite – but this quote has stuck with me, and I’m going to end with it.
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a GIFT – that’s why they call it the present.”