During the workweek, may of us rush from task to task focused on reaching our ultimate goal…the weekend! When Friday comes around, we may see friends, enjoy good food, or relax at home, but, even on the days that we feel most uplifted, we may not be tapping into our full happiness potential. Without becoming adept at living life in the present moment, we become disconnected and removed from the life lived within each moment.
All around us, we hear instructions to “be present.” In books, in blogs, in our weekly yoga practice. Living in the present moment may no longer come naturally, but, at some point in each of our lives, it did.
Through the Eyes of a Child
Remember being a child? Lying in the grass feeling the sun radiating its warmth from a place deep behind your eyelids? Those moments of utter peace become more and more limited as we mature; so much so, in fact, that, without our focused intention, they disappear almost entirely.
If you’ve spent even a few hours with a child, you can appreciate how different their worldview really is. While you might not be able to magically toss aside all of your adult responsibilities, you can enhance your life dramatically by letting children be your teacher.
Play: Remember counting the minutes until the school bell rang? Why the excitement? Because you knew you were headed home to play after a long day of school work. Getting home may have meant playing outside with the neighborhood kids, watching television, heading to your backyard swing set, or riding your bike.
Now, when we get home, we manage our households, make dinner, clean up, do laundry….and maybe– when we’re finished- we’ll have a few minutes left to relax. The solution? Make play a priority. While you’ll always have adult tasks to manage, you can (and should) block off time to do the things you love. Take a flower arranging class, join a running club, enroll in a painting workshop, or join a nearby yoga studio- whatever unleashes your inner child!
Feel: When’s the last time you stopped to notice the feeling of the sun on your face or the sound the wind makes when it blows through the trees? In our disconnection from our environment, we become removed from our world and, in turn, from ourselves. Children notice the softness of the rug beneath them, the smell of falling leaves, and the sound of birds chirping outside their window. Notice your surroundings, the colors and textures all around you, and the feelings of sensation within the body you inhabit. Just being aware of the present moment can allow us to let go of stress, make better decisions, work smarter, and better manage conflict.
Laugh: Have you laughed today? Really, think hard. Chances are you haven’t…at least not nearly as often as you should. Studies show that adults laugh twenty times per day on average while babies clock in at around 300 daily laughs! Worse yet, our laughter peaked before most of us even started elementary school. Laughter is a social lubricant that helps us to bond with the people in our lives, and it may even have a positive effect on our health. Merely setting the intention to laugh more can have an impact on how often you laugh.
Forget: Little children don’t keep score. They don’t remember who did what to who and when. They don’t bring their old issues to new situations. They just react to the present moment. In emulating the present-mindedness of a child, you can bring a fresh perspective to every moment. Be aware of whether you’re seeing things for what they truly are or, instead, for what you expect them to be.
Be: Take time to enjoy life. Kids aren’t worried about rushing to get to their soccer game- they know they’ll get there when they get there. They don’t worry about the future because they trust that life will work itself out as it should. Kids don’t chase material wealth, make snide remarks, or live in the regrets of their past. Ask a toddler to give you a kiss, and he’ll greet you with a big, sloppy smooch….nothing more. Love your life, love the people in your life, and embrace the present moment.