There are some people in our lives who are so totally our opposite, it can feel as though the two of us come from different planets.
We have our similarities of course – or we would never have become friends – but I often find it is our differences that bring us together.
Just like the old saying goes…Opposites attract.
My boyfriend, Dom, and I are exactly like that.
I am a flurry of activity, prepared for every eventuality, constantly thinking about the next step. He is content to remain in the same place, isn’t worried about what’s next, isn’t in a hurry to get anywhere.
I am in a hundred places at the same time, whereas he is always present, living in the moment, inherently mindful.
These facets of our personalities clash spectacularly as you can imagine.
I am tapping my foot, ready to go, waiting beside the front door. He is simultaneously putting on his shoes, checking the oil in his car and sweeping the kitchen floor.
I am carefully writing out and sticking to a shopping list. He is excitedly stuffing things into the supermarket trolley like a kid in a candy store.
I am making everyone dizzy with all of my plans. He is happily pouring his cereal and opening up the next chapter of his book.
How can he be so content just living from moment to moment? Isn’t he worried about the future? Isn’t he concerned about how much milk we have left or whether he remembered to turn the oven off or what he said to that person last week?
My frustration is pointing out what I need to fix, not with Dom, but within myself.
This desperate need to rush, this constant feeling of needing to get something done, the way I resist being still and captivated in the wonder of moments.
Dom doesn’t need to speed up, I need to slow down.
My laser-focus on tasks, productivity and organisation is causing me to miss the big picture or perhaps, the small picture. All those sweet, silly moments that I’m always bulldozing through in my hurry to stick to my rigid plans.
I can feel the time slipping through my fingers like grains of sand in a hourglass. If only I knew how to pause it for a second, to open my eyes to what is right in front of me.
The precious hugs that I hold so briefly before I strain to get back to the vegetables I was chopping.
The satiny, morning sun in the living room that I glance over while I’m rushing to make the house perfect before our friends arrive for breakfast.
That warm, cozy feeling of being snuggled in bed that I jump from so that I can tackle my to-do list immediately.
And this constant rushing feeds my anxiety.
I am always afraid of what is coming next because I am always thinking about, and living in, tomorrow.
What I need, is to start living right here, in today. I need to practice being present in the moment.
So these are my tips for those of you who come from the same planet as me (the hyper-focused, super-organised, stressed-out one). Let’s try to slow down.
5 ways to practice being present in the moment
Stop worrying about tomorrow
I really need to schedule an appointment to get my wisdom teeth taken out and I have been worrying about it for months.
Almost every day I have been worrying about making the call, paying for the procedure, getting the teeth out and the inevitable pain I will feel afterwards.
But the other day I realised something – I am not getting my wisdom teeth out today – and therefore I do not need to worry about all those things today.
Each day has plenty of worries without me adding tomorrows worries too!
So this is my question for you: Is the thing you are worrying about happening today?
If yes, then it is perfectly acceptable to feel concerned about it.
If not, then remind yourself that today you are safe. You have nothing to worry about today.
Rest in gratitude
When something makes me feel especially happy, I enjoy it for approximately one second and then I feel terribly afraid that this thing is going to be taken away from me.
I call this self-sabotage, Brene Brown calls it ‘foreboding joy.‘
A way of protecting ourselves from the worse-case-scenario by playing it out in our heads. And according to Brene, the antidote to this miserable way of thinking, is gratitude. Daring to be vulnerable and choosing to feel the joy over the fear.
When you feel that rising panic about something going horribly wrong- give thanks.
Notice your joy
So often, we don’t allow ourselves to fully enjoy a moment. We cloud our happiness with our pent up anger, sadness and fear.
When a moment strikes you as being absolutely delightful, when your chest swells and your laughter rings out, take a second to soak in that joy.
Notice how it makes you feel. Stay here awhile instead of rushing off to do the next thing.
Be intentional on social media
It can be all too easy to use social media as an escape. A chance to numb ourselves and avoid whatever is going on in our real lives.
We can sometimes let hours slip by as we scroll mindlessly through our newsfeed, without even stopping to notice or connect with anyone else.
Try to be intentional when you are online. Use those apps to actually connect with people. Leave thoughtful comments, share something you found valuable, add to the community rather than skimming over the posts you see.
Focus on one thing at a time
We like to think that if we do two things at once we are being more efficient but in reality, we are more likely just doing a bad job of two things instead of a good job of one.
I am not a fan of multi-tasking. I say focus on one thing and give it your full attention.
When I am driving, I can’t also be texting (mostly because that’s illegal but also because it is distracting.)
When I am talking to someone, I can’t also be editing a photo for Instagram.
When I am studying, I can’t also be on Facebook (although, if I am honest, I never really adhere to this.)
You just can’t be in two places at once. Be all here.
You know I am glad that we aren’t all the same. The world needs both of us. People to make things happen, to plan ahead, to get the job done today. And people to encourage us to rest, to keep us grounded, to remind us of the importance of being present in the moment.