When I am delivering webinars on the topic of wellbeing, I often find myself asking the question to the group, “Who’s in charge?” This question applies to various aspects of our lives, including our wellbeing. Being present in the moment is crucial for our health, yet a study in 2010 has shown that we are only present about 48% of the time in our awake hours. The study found that people spend nearly half of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they are currently doing and that this tendency is associated with lower levels of happiness. We need to take charge.
(Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010).
Being present means paying attention to what is happening right now, without judgment or distraction. It is a state of mind where we are fully engaged in the present moment, aware of our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. Being present has numerous benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, improved relationships, better decision-making, and enhanced creativity. It also allows us to fully appreciate the beauty and richness of life, rather than simply going through the motions.
When we are not present, we are at the mercy of our previous learning, conditioning, habits, traumas, and past life experiences. We are reactive rather than proactive, and we may make mistakes or poor decisions that we regret later. For example, we may reach for unhealthy snacks when we are feeling stressed or make impulsive purchases that we cannot afford. We may also say or do things that hurt others or damage our relationships at work and in our home life. We have a negative bias to our thinking patterns and if we are not paying attention to that, we will probably be suffering in some way.
How can we look after ourselves and really focus on wellbeing without being mindful as to what is actually going on – “Who’s in charge?” Mindfulness is a practice that involves intentionally paying attention to the present moment, without judgment or distraction. It is a way of training our minds to be more present and less reactive. Mindfulness can be practiced in various ways, including meditation, yoga, and mindful breathing. By practicing mindfulness regularly, we can become more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. We can also learn to respond to situations rather than react to them, making better decisions and improving our well-being. Why is it that people are always thankful when I introduce a short mindful exercise in a webinar? For me people a led by their unconscious actions, it is like someone else is driving the bus. Having someone else tell them to stop and take a few breaths might be eye-rolling to some, but it brings real benefits.
Despite the benefits of being present, many people neglect to practice mindfulness or engage in activities that promote presence. One reason for this may be the fast-paced and demanding nature of modern life. With so many responsibilities and distractions vying for our attention, it can be difficult to slow down and be present in the moment. Additionally, some people may feel that they do not have the time or resources to engage in mindfulness practices or other activities that promote presence. Our negative bias gets in the way, and we have conditioned our mind to be busy.
Tips for Being More Present: There are several ways to be more present in our daily lives. Some tips include:
- Set aside time for mindfulness practice: This can be as little as 5-10 minutes a day, but it is important to make it a regular habit.
- Engage in activities that bring you joy: When we are doing things that we love, we are more likely to be fully present in the moment.
- Practice mindful breathing: This involves taking slow, deep breaths and focusing your attention on the sensation of the breath moving in and out of your body.
- Take breaks throughout the day: Stepping away from work or other responsibilities can help us to reset and be more present.
- Practice gratitude: Focusing on the good things in our lives can help us to be more present and appreciative of the present moment.
In conclusion, being present is crucial for our well-being. When we are not in charge of our actions, we may make mistakes or poor decisions that can have negative consequences. Mindfulness is a powerful tool for improving our ability to be present, and there are many tips and practices that can help us to cultivate this skill. There will be future posts looking more closely at techniques and practices. By being more present in our daily lives, we can live more fully, make better decisions, and improve our relationships and overall well-being.
So, who’s in charge? You are when you are present.
Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind