What happens when I tell you, “Don’t think about a pink elephant.”?
You probably just thought of a pink elephant. If I instead explained to you that there were two elephants in the room, one pink and one blue, and I wanted you to do your best to keep your focus on the blue, you will most likely do better. Our minds want and need something to focus on so it’s counterproductive to tell ourselves we can’t do something without giving it a reasonable replacement.
It is very possible to change they way we think and feel by crafting our focus on things we approve of and that are in line with our goals and values. Picking a focal point or setting intention gives us direction towards where we want to go or who we want to be. At the same time, setting intention acts as a defense against the threat of worry.
Our days, our entire lives in fact, are made up of moments. Every moment we have is a gift and a piece of what our life will be remembered by. Let’s not waste our life by wasting our moments with worry and sloppy living. We can experience more peace, less anxiety, and feel more connected to our life when we practice being present.
Here’s something I practice to help myself stay more in the moments of my life and not miss them. I bring awareness to each of my senses in whatever environment I’m in. When I do this, it’s as if I’m telling my inner self, “this is important … this is it … this is your life … this might be all you ever have … this is a precious gift that will not last forever.” Our senses assist us in our ability to savor life. One of the best gifts we can give ourselves is the gift of being fully present in whatever we are doing. As a result of being fully present, we are not only enhancing our experiences, but we are also preventing anxiety. Our mind cannot be in two different places at the exact same time. If we are fully present – consumed by the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures of our moments we cannot be thinking about what else could happen in the future, whether near or far.
This is a skill set available to us all but it requires awareness and practice. Start by picking one situation you regularly find yourself in. Lets say it is a morning commute. Don’t just zone out, or worse, think about something that produces anxiety (you’re certainly not going to solve your future problems during your drive to work). Make it a goal to find beauty in your drive and try to savor the moment the best you can. Life exists is in the moment of whatever we are doing. Grab it before it slips away.