Practice Being Mindful and Present In The New Year

By Jessica Fehrenbacher

We live in a world where we are constantly planning the next part of our lives. Where are we going on our next vacation? When is my next meeting? There is push to look forward at all times. It seems that people don’t believe they are important if they aren’t constantly busy and involved. It’s as if we can’t imagine life without wearing many hats.

On a typical day, when you ask someone how they are doing it is more than likely you will get an answer such as, “I’m so busy” or “I have so much going on in my life.” They then proceed to tell you about all the crazy items on their checklist that they have to do. This isn’t only work-related, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a community volunteer; individuals these days are thinly stretched to perform many, multiple tasks.

A few months ago, I read an article about ways to live in the moment, to slow down, and take stock of your life. The article, “7 Ways to Enjoy Your Life and Live in the Moment” by Catherine Newman gives several suggestions for living in the moment.

Be here now. This step focuses on being in the present moment. If you are so busy moving to the next thing, ask yourself, what is the next thing? Life is happening right now, as you read this article. It’s important to be there in the daily activities. For example, enjoying the smell of your coffee first thing in the morning. Taking in the sunshine, or rain, as you drive to work. Even watching your kids play as you do the dishes.

Do less, get more done. This is to engage fully in what you are doing while you are doing it. Quit going over your tomorrow to-do list while you’re talking to your best friend. Be fully engaged with others in the moment. Sometimes trying to do multiple activities can actually not be beneficial because you are not doing any one thing fully.

Slow down. The example that Newman points out in this section is the feeling of a mouthful of potato chips and your hand is already in the bag reaching for more. To start out this section by practicing slowing down with food/meals and then moving on to other parts of your life in a slower pace. This allows you to practice the art of slowing down.

Take a deep breath. Even in the midst of busy times, we all can take a deep breath.

Unplug. This step focuses on setting rules for the technology in our lives. For example, turning off your phone during dinner with your family. By setting these rules, you can stay focused on those who are with you now, not those far away or in cyberspace.

Be mindful. When life gets busy or you’re running late, it can be difficult to pay attention. For example, you had a busy morning and finally broke away to grab lunch and there is an enormous wait. This is a perfect example of an experience that reminds you to return to the present and pay attention.

Allow yourself to be happy. The final step allows us to take stock of our life and all the good things that are present. It can be so easy to compare and complain about what don’t have. It’s important to realize what is most important to us, be it family, friends, church, or the community.

It might sound cliché, but no one knows what tomorrow will bring. So, we need to make the most of the days we are given. Make your life count for something by giving, leading, and changing the world around you.

Jessica Fehrenbacher is the Make a Difference Grant Program Manager at Youth Resources of Southwestern Indiana.