We spend most of our lives either dwelling on the past or planning for the future. We hardly ever take the time to consider the importance of today. What possibilities could we unleash if we focused solely on the present? Could we become more focused, productive and wholesome people? Will shifting our focus towards ‘this’ moment mean we can become better versions of ourselves?
I can still remember when the notion of living in the moment was first introduced to me. No, I wasn’t about to bungee jump off a cliff, or book a one-way ticket to Paris. I was in primary school, when a wise teacher had purposefully hung a poster on her classroom window that read;
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.”
From that moment on, I have tried to look at everyday as a gift that not everyone is lucky enough to be given. This approach gets tough sometimes, there’s no doubt about it. We all get weighed down by the pressures of what needs to get done, or by the mistakes we have made in the past, making today feel like something we need to merely get through instead of enjoy. Unfortunately, the gift of today doesn’t come with a receipt, so there are no refunds or exchanges within a 14-day period.
Thankfully for you, I have come up with an easy way to ensure that when you lay your head on your pillow each night, you doze off with ease, knowing that you maximised your daily potential, having achieved everything that you set out to do. Here are five ways to ensure that this is you each and every night!
When faced with a massive ‘To-Do’ list, it’s really easy to fall into the trap of doing too much at once. If you are anything like me, your web browser probably has anywhere from 4 to 14 tabs open at once and yet we still wonder why our thinking patterns get cluttered.
We wonder why our productivity level is next to nothing when we have 7 different books open on our desk during a study session. You will be more productive if you prioritise your MIT’s (Most Important Tasks) and focus on them one at a time. Of course, be mindful and realistic when it comes to allocating time to each task and take small breaks.
Our diaries are usually filled up with appointment after appointment, yet we often forget to pencil in our most important appointment – with ourselves! It’s important to schedule in a time to work up a sweat as regularly as possible. For someone who has a very cyclical relationship with the gym (meaning I’ll go strong for 4 months and then take a 2 year break and repeat), I’ve found that I am more energetic and balanced when I am active.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, when I am taking a rest day (week/month/year), it often comes with lethargy and a foggy mind. It’s common knowledge that sweating releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy. It’s pretty simple really- when you sweat, you smile!
Sleep has the potential to make or break your day. It is the one thing that can turn a good day into a bad one and vice versa. I find that if I get one bad night of sleep, I can generally function ok the next day, but it’s when one bad night becomes a bad week when it becomes problematic.
Sadly, no amount of double shot lattes can fix a lack of shut eye. If you are finding your sleep routine is in a rut, try turning off your screens at least half an hour before bed, turning on ‘do not disturb’ mode, light a candle and listen to an audiobook or podcast. You will suddenly feel the weight of the world disappear!
Running late for your train and the driver in front of you insisting that doing 40km is a great idea? Smile. Got into the car and spilt coffee down your shirt and all through your bag? Smile. The hipster in your class is rambling on about some pretentious existential concept that you don’t give two shits about… smile.
It takes self-discipline and mindfulness to turn your frown upside down, so to speak. It’s the times when you really shouldn’t be smiling that you should force yourself to put the biggest, cheesiest, toothiest grin on your face. You will trick yourself into believing that you are actually happy!
Say Thank You
As I learnt in primary school, today is a gift. We are always thankful and gracious when we receive a gift. Even when we receive a crappy gift, we still pretend to be thankful right? Why should we react any differently to the present we receive on a daily basis?
Begin and end your day with an attitude of gratitude, it will make the biggest difference in your life.