Presence in the Present

Recently, I caught myself drifting — lost in memories of the past and thoughts of the future.

The past is both comforting but haunting. You’ve gone through it, and you already know what’s happened. And like a highlight reel, you can spend hours looking over your own footage. I spent a lot of time thinking on how to edit and adjust my footage. I was caught in a reminiscence of everything behind me.

The future is exciting but fickle. You’ve never gone through it, and you have don’t know what’s going to happen. And like a movie trailer, you can spend hours planning out your new footage. I spent a lot of time trying to direct and prepare scenes yet to come. I was caught in a rapture of everything ahead of me.

But I soon realized, I was losing touch with today. Bit by bit, it was getting washed away by the past and the future.

Could I do anything to experience a richer, fuller present?

A few things have helped me keep presence in the present:

Turn off notifications

This was a big adjustment. For years, I was addicted to my phone blinking and buzzing. Every text, email, and mention drew me deeper and deeper into my phone. I was at the mercy of my device. So I turned it all off, and it helped enormously. It led to more focus and fullness; I could concentrate for longer periods of time and enjoy more of the world around me.

Linger for 10 seconds

If you’re taking a walk or eating something yummy or just sitting in your bed, spend 10 extra seconds just…experiencing. Savor that bite a little longer, soak in that sun a little more, and laugh a little longer at your favorite show. See if you can accentuate the simple experience and squeeze more from it. It brought me richer satisfaction to normal, regular moments.

Connect with your family

At my age, we make so much time for our friends. But I realized, many of my closest family — especially the generation above — didn’t get to experience the little things were happening in my life. So invite them into your world — even if it’s just a quick phone call or email every few months. This small act of sharing helped gave me new appreciation on smaller wins around me.

Reflection on the past and future is not necessarily a bad thing. But for me, indexing too heavily on my past and future kept me from enjoying the little gifts of the present.

Hope you take a moment to enjoy your today too!