Being Fully Present – Training our Thoughts for Simple

January 9, 2013 in Minimalist Tips by Lorilee Lippincott

Image: by David Castillo Dominici

I really struggle to live and enjoy the present …but it is something I have been really working on this year.  I think it is key to both simple living and minimalist living.

I find it much easier to plan and dream in the future.  Things in the present are taken care of as they pop up, but my mind lives weeks and months ahead.

The future is addicting, it is filled with promise and hope.  Why focus on where I am at now on my book, blog,  or savings account when I can see the future when I reach my goals?

Living in the future also brings a lot of worry.  A deadline or a looming problem can take all my time when there is nothing I can do about the thing I am worried about.

It isn’t that we should only think about the present.  Not at all!  We need to have plans and we need to remember what was done in the past.

But we need to live our lives in the present.

It has been a struggle, and I am still learning, but I am doing much better in my life.  I wanted to share some things that have helped me in this past year be present.

First off I want to talk about the problems, especially the ones I was struggling with, that were a result of not having this present thinking:

  • Worry – unnecessarily and only on possible problems
  • Daydreaming and deep in thought for hours, only being physically present at home with my kids
  • Spending time and energy planning for changes or opportunities before they were even known for sure
  • Time thinking and dreaming instead of working

I have struggled to really connect with my kids.  Even though I am home with them all day, teaching them and taking care of them my mind can be in another place and it is hard to really listen and talk to them.

All the mental exercises of the future leave me exhausted and makes it hard to talk and spend time with my husband.  It was this past year when I was really trying to do better in these areas that I noticed these relational problems it has been creating.

But, I have been doing better :)

Here are some things that have helped me live and enjoy the present even more this past year.

  1. Everyday parties – I love creating a party for no reason.  The kids love it too.  Sometimes it is fancier than others, but they are always special.  Last night it was a movie night where we all curled up and watched Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.  The kids loved it :)
  2. Spontaneity – Changing up plans at the last minute, especially to do a party or changing up the schedule, always brings the focus to the present and enjoying it.
  3. Senses – especially taste, smell, and touch that we focus on less.  Light a candle that has a good (or different) scent, or treat yourself with strong flavors (like chili dark chocolate, yum) and enjoy the moment.
  4. Look at people who are talking – Really look at them, not just politely point your face in their direction.  The kids when they are talking, the pastor when he is talking, the waiter… everyone.

Do you struggle with living in the present?  Have you learned other ways to help train your thinking to enjoy the present more?