How to have a better day

February 10, 2016

Pop quiz: When is the last time you were none of these things?

  • Worried
  • Anxious
  • Distracted
  • Scattered
  • Forgetful
  • Regretful
  • Overwhelmed
  • Stressed
  • Tired

Can’t recall, right? We’ve all got a lot on our minds. Ruminating on old mistakes. Avoiding new ones. Planning what we need to do. Anticipating what we’ll forget. It’s a constant scramble.

But what if we could clear up our jumbled thoughts?

What if we could leave the past in the past, the future to the future?

If we could give our whole attention to what we’re doing as we’re doing it?

Then we’d be fully present. Whatever we’re doing, we’d likely do it better. Conversations would become more fruitful. Tasks could become less tedious. Trust, empathy, adaptability — all would deepen and grow. We’d be engaged in each moment, so each moment would count.

Being present is an attitude shift. It doesn’t change the world, but it changes how we experience it — what we notice, how we respond. It’s a commitment to participate more fully in the things we choose to do, making those choices matter more.

Like any new habit, it takes practice. And it might be hard at first. The great news is, you can practice being fully present — and feel its benefits — in just about everything you do.

Put into practice: Think about your everyday tasks and activities. Now think of ways you could be more present in each of them, using the ideas below as a starting point and adding your own. Try some to see how it affects your day.

Tips to be more present in everyday life:

  • Set aside dedicated times for email instead of immediately checking new messages.
  • Practice eye contact in conversations, especially if your mind starts wandering.
  • Put away gadgets and turn off the TV during dinner.
  • Observe as many details as you can about your routes to and from home.
  • Notice your body language. Does it convey how you feel?
  • Listen completely — avoid judgment or rehearsing your response before someone finishes speaking.
  • Make ten mindful minutes a part of your daily routine.
  • Say “thank you” at every opportunity.

More tips to hone your attention:

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