Being Present – Pay attention

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I heard a great quote the other day –

“Nostalgia is really just wishing you had been more present the first time you were there”

Now, while it may not be exactly true, it does make you think.

What it may be suggesting is…..

Be really present the first time.

I have mentioned “being present” in a number of posts and it is a tricky thing to put your finger on. Does it mean concentrate more, pay more attention, don’t think about the past or the future?

Right now, I am not really sure myself.

What I think is that you need to stop asking is “why” all the time and you need to stop thinking “what if” all the time. Definitely, learn from the “why” but don’t dwell on it. Absolutely do some planning for the future, but not to the point you are paralysed from taking action. You can’t realise everything now. Some of it, you are going to have to figure out in the present.

“Being present” goes together with “Enjoy the journey” Yes it is cliche and it makes you cringe a little. But the meaning behind it is valid.

We can spend out whole lives rushing, working and trying to get to a place or destination and miss all the wonderful things along the way. I am as guilty as anyone in this regard.

Why do you think entrepreneurs that build companies and sell them for millions of pounds/dollars go back and start a new company again? Because building of the company was the fun bit.

I helped a friend of mine with his kitchen extension and garden a few years ago. While I didn’t see all the stresses of the build, the kitchen and garden are lovely. When we see each other and this topic comes up, we do not talk about the loveliness of the kitchen or garden. We talk about the fun we had knocking the garage down so the kitchen and garden could be done.

Our society tells us we must achieve; we must be successful, climb the corporate ladder. Taking time to appreciate the little things gets in the way of this. It can be hard to do. Here are a few things that can help.

Leave your phone alone

Put your phone down (Unless you are reading this on your phone, I which case finish the post then put your phone down). Turn off the notifications. Put it on flight mode.

It’s strange when you go somewhere a little remote, you look at your phone and you get a pang of fear when there is no 3G or Wi-Fi. Then quickly you don’t notice it. Then you realise how nice it is not to be hooked up to the grid at all times and how much calmer you feel. There are plenty of other things to pay attention to other than your phone.

Declutter

Clutter and an untidy home can be overwhelming and affect your mood and wellbeing. You look around your home and all you notice is the mess and things that need putting away. You can’t relax and enjoy the space. When you get rid of stuff, it is like a weight being lifted off your shoulders (or your mind). There are whole blogs dedicated to this, of which The Minimalists is great. A good place to start is here.

Let go of trivial things

Is the guy who cut you up on your commute and nothing came of it, really important? Is the mug that has have been sitting in the sink for two days really important? Not really. Don’t waste your time stressing about them.

Focus

If you have to do something, focus on one task until it is completed. Multitasking does not work. You just do several jobs badly. If you do get distracted, bring your mind back to the task and refocus.

Journaling

I am yet to try this, but it comes up time and time again as a habit that can improve your mental health and reduce stress. Journaling focuses the mind on the present, whilst providing reflection and gratitude. You can try the traditional paper-based method or used an App on your phone. There are the 5-minute journal, Grid Diary and plenty of others. (Yes, I realise it goes against the message to put your phone down)

Be joyful and grateful

Rach Jubilee

There are lots of things in life that are incredibly harsh and awful but if you are reading this you are probably lucky in a lot of ways. Remember how lucky you are. If you need a prompt, find what it is and put it in a prominent position. Mine is a photo (above) on my fridge of my beautiful friend Rachel who died of cancer in 2015. It reminds me of my friend and that I should be grateful for my health.

Do the things you enjoy

Have you ever had this or a similar conversion with a friend or partner?

“Why is it that we never do that thing we used to do and that we really enjoyed doing?”

It’s probably that you got sidetracked by a million and one other things. Many of them, very possibly legitimate that come with two arms and two legs!

It doesn’t have to be huge. I love going for a walk on Wimbledon Common as the sun goes down and the air gets chilly. It feels so peaceful and I feel so calm. I recently moved 1 mile further away from the Common. Now I rarely go. It’s only a 20-minute walk or a 2-minute drive. I can get there! Remember it what it is you enjoy,  how it makes you feel and go do it!

Lighten up

Modern life is frenetic. It can sometimes get very serious. Sometimes serious is required, but not always. The stories you will tell in the coming years will be about those funny little things that happened along the way. Be present in those moments, enjoy them and soak them in.

I moved into a new house in Birmingham years ago with my girlfriend at the time. You know the scene, boxes everywhere, no space to put anything. There was nowhere to sit and eat so we put our dining table together and put in the kitchen. It had no right to be there due to it being far too big for the room. We could hardly move and in hindsight was a terrible decision. We were eating £1 pizza from Lidl and drinking cheap Prosecco. One of us sitting on a step and one on a folding chair. Then the kitchen cabinet swung down from one of its screws and landed on the kitchen worktop. At this point, we considered the scene (no one injured), looked at each other and burst out laughing. Of all the lovely meals and dinners parties we had in that house, this is the one I remember most fondly.

If you have a life plan, stay patient. Enjoy the process. Where you are today, you are never going to be again. The future is great, but you are not there yet.

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