Being present should be an objective we all prioritize in our daily lives.
When you’re not present, the effects can be more far-reaching than you might initially think.
For example, when you’re not present behind the wheel, it’s distracted driving. When it comes to distracted driving, accidents are more likely to occur in areas least expected.
Not being present can also harm your productivity at work. By trying to multitask and do everything at once, your work may be suffering even if that’s not your intention.
Then, once you head home in the evening, if you’re not present with your partner and children, it can damage your relationships and make it hard for you to connect.
Being present isn’t just something that we pull from the pages of a New Age guidebook—it’s something that can improve safety, our relationships, our careers, how we feel and our complete quality of life.
Signs You’re Not Present
Some of the indicators or warning signs you’re not present in your life include:
- Are you always feeling dissatisfied? If you’re not present in your life, you might find yourself constantly wanting more than what you have, or wanting to feel something different than what you currently feel. Someone who’s not present may have a tough time celebrating their victories and accomplishments because they feel like it’s not enough.
- Your phone takes priority in your life. Smartphones and technology are two of the biggest reasons many of us struggle with being present. You might wake up and immediately reach for your phone, or you could only briefly look up from your phone when your family is talking to you. You may even feel frustrated if someone interrupts your time you’re spending with your phone, and that’s pulling you away from what’s going on around you.
- You tell yourself stories. You may get lost in your own head and create stories as to why something did or didn’t happen, or you might start jumping to conclusions about another person’s motivations or rationale.
- You’re caught up in worry and anxiety. That means you’re thinking too much about the future rather than the present.
- You can’t remember small things, such as the last thing you ate. You get so lost in your own thoughts or whatever it is that you feel is going on around you that you forget about the small but very important things in your daily life.
So how can you be more present?
Set No-Phone Hours
One of the best things you can do for your mental health, to be more present and to be a better friend, partner or parent is to put your phone aside.
Create time during each day where you put your phone away so that you can’t even hear it buzzing.
Spend that time fully connecting with the people or things around you.
Along with no-phone time, try to make it a rule for yourself that you start each day doing something besides going through your phone.
Maybe you just get straight out of bed and do some stretching, write in a journal, or enjoy your cup of coffee without your device in your hands.
Multitasking is not the mark of someone who’s successful at work. It can be, but you may find that you’re more successful when you work on becoming a single-tasker instead of a multi-tasker.
Create a list each morning. Prioritize the items on your list, and start with the most challenging. Focus on tackling one task at a time, rather than moving back and forth.
People often feel like they’re more productive when they’re multitasking, but research often shows the opposite is true.
As you’re writing out your priorities for the day, be specific and outline chunks of time and what you want to achieve within those times.
Remind Yourself to Be Mindful
It’s easy, even when you start each day or week with intention, to lose sight of how important it is to be present and mindful. As your brain is working on overdrive you can get worn out. You’re going through your daily tasks and you get mentally fatigued, so your mind starts to wonder. You can easily find yourself in a dream-like state without even noticing.
This is why it’s important to give yourself reminders so that you can get present and stop operating on autopilot.
Maybe you make notes for yourself or even set a timer on your phone.
Each time your phone rings or buzzes, you can take a mindful breath and work on bringing yourself back to the present.
When you are constantly wanting more or operating off the feeling that nothing is ever good enough, you can’t be present. To be present, you have to be grateful for what you have at the moment.
Practicing gratitude can also help rewire your brain and eliminate negative thought patterns, improve your work life, and make you a better parent and partner.
Practicing gratitude on a regular basis is a good way to improve your overall quality of life.
Let Go Of Control
One of the hardest things to train yourself on in your quest to be present is that there are some things that are out of your control. When you can accept this, it helps you be more present at the moment.
However, this doesn’t mean that you’re just giving up or losing sight of your goals, because there are plenty of things you can change.
Instead, work on letting go of those things right here, and now that can’t be changed.
You also have to work on accepting yourself, and you can work toward improving your weaknesses but that doesn’t mean you have to hate who you are at present.
Finally, listen to your body. Sometimes the noise that surrounds us makes us stop listening to what our bodies want or need and that can lead to unhealthy habits like overeating when we’re not hungry. Learn to take time to hear what your body is telling you and to respond appropriately.
When you physically feel your best, it makes it easier to tackle challenges in your life.