Living in the moment is a bit of a craze right now. In the age of distraction and short attention spans, being able to live in the present and being present in your current environment (be it work, home, with family, etc.) is a very important skill to learn.
What is “being present”?
Have you ever spent time around someone who makes you feel like the most important person in the world? When you talk, they listen. I mean REALLY listen.
They don’t scroll through their phone and make non-committal sounds while you talk. They make eye contact, they take in what you’re saying and really think about their response.
That person is living in the moment. They are present – with you. Feels good, doesn’t it? That someone actually cares enough to put aside distractions for you – even for a short time. Being present is a key skill in forming lasting, meaningful relationships.
Being present means allowing yourself to focus on what you are doing right now. Paying attention to who you are with and having the ability to shut-out distractions for a given time so that you can be fully focused on what you have decided is important at this moment in time. It’s actually harder than it sounds!
With all the distractions open to us all day every day, including social media, the news, TV, Netflix (the list goes on), being present with your current outcome can be a huge challenge.
The benefits of living in the moment:
- Ability to focus on the task at hand
- Completing a task fully – not leaving the job half-done because you got distracted
- Engaging fully with people you care about
- Developing relationships with the people around you – making them feel heard
- Putting aside worries and concerns about “what comes next”
The drawbacks of living in the moment
I’ve never really struggled too much with being present at the current moment. My life is lived day to day, moment to moment – and always has been. Focusing on the task at hand is something I’ve never had a problem with – I know that’s not always the case with most people though.
My struggle has been the reverse actually. Thinking about the future. Visualizing what’s next. Planning and preparing for the future – THAT is a real issue for me and something I’m still not very good at. Dates and times in the future are a black hole to me sometimes which means I need to be extra careful about noting down things in the calendar!
Recently I’ve been giving this some thought. It’s a weakness and a big one at that! The more I think about it, the more I worry that my natural mindfulness is actually preparing me for a fall in the future – one I haven’t seen coming until now.
So here is the question I’ve been asking myself. Is living in the moment detrimental? Despite the concept’s current popularity – is living in the moment damaging?
Is it possible to be TOO much at the moment?
The simple answer to this is “yes.” If your focus on “now” is so great that you never make time for reflection on the past, how can that be a good thing? Taking lessons from the past is the only way to learn, to improve yourself for the future. If you are so busy living in the now that you ignore the past, or what’s around the corner – you’re setting yourself up for an ambush of your own making.
So what to do?
The answer to this (to my mind at least), is all about balance. Yes, you need to take the time to be present. Be present with your partner. Be present with your friends. Be present with your children. Be present at work. Be present with yourself.
However, you also need to carve out some time to be present with your future. You need to spend some time (without the distractions of “now”) to think about what’s coming next. Plan for it. Own it.
Balance as in all things is key. Live in the moment, by all means, train yourself to be present at the moment and focus on what you need to, but never neglect the time you need for reflection on the past and dreams for your future.
“Your own positive future begins at this moment. All you have is right now. Every goal is possible from here” – Lau Tzu
“Let go of the past, but keep the lessons it taught you.” – Chiara Gizzi
Previously published on Whatsyouroutcome.com.
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