Being Present

It was the first Sunday of 2019 and I was visiting a friend. We took a walk along the river nearby. It was a rare gorgeous sunny day and the weather was warm. 

My friend and I are almost two generations apart and our conversation has a unique atmosphere. She is a physical therapist who trains people who just had surgeries or suffer from various diseases, helping them relearn the essential life skills like climbing stairs or going to the bathroom. I asked for more details, and she delineated movingly how she guided a man to buy a Christmas present for his girlfriend and how surprised she was. Mid-conversation I caught myself thinking about a related scenario and fantasizing how would I recount the story to others.

Although she didn’t notice, I felt bad for spacing out. It would be understandable if I’m in a boring class, but not when I’m talking to someone I love and care about. It became “normal” for me to think about the next item on my to-do list before finishing the last. I blamed the internet and social media for my shorter concentration time and decided to relearn how to focus. 

The first step is becoming intentional. Whenever I catch myself either censuring myself for past mistakes or listing the best and worst scenarios of future situations, I hold up a huge stop sign in my head. 

The second step is changing the mindset. I convinced myself that planning something else mid-task will not increase my productivity. I could finish my homework without thinking too hard, but maybe I wasn’t memorizing the formulas. Of course, there are exceptions like listening to a podcast while driving or showering, but most of the time what you are doing deserves your full concentration. If it doesn’t, maybe it’s the time to rethink your priorities and reorganize your time.

Practice, practice, and practice. Making concentration a habit, and after weeks and months your brain won’t see multitasking a feasible option and you’ll appreciate life a lot more. 

Have you ever felt like you’re not really living? 

Lately, I have been practicing the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. For those who never heard of it, the technique means acknowledging five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. I prefer saying them out loud; there is a magical feeling of hearing yourself reciting things. It helped me with anxiety (I even successfully used it to prevent an anxiety attack) and refocusing on the present moment when I’m feeling grumpy.

Being present is the secret to happiness. Being happy is the secret to success. The world will be a better place if we stop worrying about the past or future and cherish the present—like a wise person said, it’s called a gift for a reason.

6 thoughts on “Being Present

  1. I love this. Being present is really the key to happiness. I totally agree with you. Often I worry about so many things. I find myself thinking about the next thing to do while I am in the middle of something. It also happened to me as well, that I thought of something else while a friend told me something. I feel so bad then. It really could be because of social media, when everything seems to go faster and faster. I have to try that technique, sounds great. I hope I can be more present, and enjoy to live in the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Me too. I’m too often living in the future. It could be so, except that I don’t use any social media (unless WordPress count as a social media?). We have so many activities planned in a day, I’d love to just dedicate a day for writing or reading, etc. I hope my post helps a little! Wish you best luck 🙂

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      1. One day for just writing and reading would be incredible! Often when I come home from work, I feel so exhausted, I cook, eat, clean, and chat with friends – that is what I use social media for. I watch some of my shows and then go to bed. Every day is the same boring routine. I’m so looking forward to my trip in two weeks. I feel I need some distance from my everyday life every now and then, and I feel lucky to have a job that allows me that. Then, I will probably get even more ideas to write down, but I will also have more time to do that on my days off. It’s wonderful you have so many activities planned. Life is to live, and do something. It is about creating memories. Keep doing what you love.

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      2. Your routine sounds amazing, actually. It’s healthy and organized. But I get why you would get bored. It’s a challenge to add creative elements to your daily routine, but it’s definitely worth it! Maybe try some new recipes or watch a show outside your comfort zone? Yeah, it’s nice to go on a trip and take a break from everyday life once in a while! Actually, I’m leaving for New Zealand for a school trip tomorrow. I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity too. Yeah! I’ll definitely write a blog post about it. After going through a rough time I usually have more creative energy for some reason. Thank you! I try to priotize things that I actually enjoy doing.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Wow, enjoy New Zealand. It’s one of the countries I want to go to someday. Looking forward to your post about it. Wish you a great time 😊
        Yeah, the routine is okay, but it feels like every day is exactly the same. So, I started taking Zumba classes with my cousin, which is quite fun. It’s the perfect fit to my office job. I really need to do more sports. I also love to write, or be creative in any way as much as I can. In December I started doing diamond paintings – a coworker talked about it. It’s really relaxing, which is good so I can forget about trying to think about everything and plan what I’m gonna do next. I agree with you that it’s good to add something different to the routine every now and then or try something new. 😊

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      4. Thank you! I had a great time there. It’s such a beautiful country. I just uploaded the first post but seems like that there are going to be more than a couple!
        I get that. In high school, you pretty much have the same routine every day as well. A more flexible schedule is one thing I’m looking forward to in college. OMG! That’s awesome! I take a Zumba class every week with my best friend. I’m glad it fits in with your job. I need to exercise more too 🙂 Diamond painting sounds good! I need to research it. Yeah, drawing has been therapeutic for me.

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