How to Free Yourself from Distractions & Live in the Moment
I took a journey recently.
It was a journey of self-discovery, one where I set out to omit distraction from my mind and focus on the present moment. I set a goal that would allow me to become a more mindful person.
Over the last 45 days, I have chosen to be absolutely present 100 times.
So what does this mean?
I set out to take a look at areas in my life where I would often get distracted.
I realized that I was missing the little moments that can mean so much. I found this especially true with my husband and daughter.
I was often thinking about the past (what I didn’t want to do again) or the future (what I need to do to move forward).
I knew this wasn’t serving me, so I decided to create a goal that would allow me to be more engaged, present and mindful.
Goal: When I am distracted, I will choose to focus, be 100% present in the moment and take in all it has to offer.
This involved letting go of worry about the past or future and just zeroing in on the moment.
I had a plan.
I set up a word document will 100 sections that looked like this:
What I was doing:
How I shifted to be Present:
Every time I was present, I entered in what I was doing at the time and how I transferred into a present state.
An example of one entry:
Date: March 26
What I was doing: I was spending time cuddling with my husband.
How I shifted to be Present: I stayed very present with him and didn’t let my mind wander to all the other things I wanted to do. I enjoyed the time and really felt what it was like to be with him for that 10mins.
My husband deserves me to give him time and attention. Our marriage has had some struggles and we don’t spend enough time being physically close. When I spent time cuddling with him, I chose to focus completely on him and the conversation.
In the past, I would often be thinking about what I needed to do once we were done and the fact that this was taking up valuable time.
My husband deserves more.
He deserves a wife who gives him the attention and affection that he needs.
I can choose to cuddle and be with him OR cuddle and be distracted. I knew that the best way to create a good marriage was to really be with him in the moment.
This is one of many examples of how this improved my life.
I applied this to my time with my daughter as well. She is 2 years old and wants her mommy most of the time. I will honestly admit that I love my alone time when I can read, write, take a long bath or just close my eyes and relax. My daughter doesn’t understand this so I wanted to figure out how it could be a win for both of us.
What she craves more than anything else is my time and attention. When I chose to give her focused time — got down to her level, played with her, engaged with her and really listened to what her little heart was saying — she was satisfied. Even if it was just 5 minutes, she was filled up knowing I cared about her enough to give her 100% of my attention.
She doesn’t need much from me — when I gave her my love, while being fully present, she was satisfied.
I also noticed it with friends. I would be with a friend in conversation and my mind would wander. I would sometimes miss parts of their story because I had my own thought reel running in my head. I wasn’t being present with them in the moment because I was stuck in my head, thinking about what I needed to do or how I was going to respond to their news.
When I chose to be present, I gave them my undivided attention. I got out of my head and connected with them on a heart level. I let go of any thoughts around what I would say next or what I needed to do later on. I gave my friends 100% of my focus.
What I noticed was this: They felt heard and because I wasn’t thinking about myself I got to learn a lot more about them. I listened to their heart and felt what they were feeling in the moment. It allowed me to empathize more and gave me the opportunity to ask more questions so that I could understand them better. I saw how being present created deeper relationships. It brought a different energy to the conversation and connection grew.
I was in the shower the other day, rushing to finish because I needed to get to work. I remembered my desire to be present so I chose to slow down and let the water run down my face and through my fingers. I felt the feeling of the warm water against my skin and took in that moment, appreciating the fact that I had clean water to shower in when so many people don’t.
Being present allowed me to have gratitude and it also gave me an amazing sense of peace that I don’t get when I’m rushing around thinking about the next thing on my timeline.
So how can YOU practice being present?
In my experience, there are a few things that will help you if you’d like to take this journey.
Focus: Do you ever see a picture where part of it is in focus and part is not? Usually something in the foreground is in focus and the background is blurry. Kind of like this:
That’s what I think of when I want to be present. I let the background become blurry and I focus on one thing. Whether it be a person, object, thought or running water against my skin, I focus on that completely. I take it out of the background and bring it to the forefront of my mind. When you really focus in on something, you are being present. Some people call it mindfulness. Either way, it works!
Choice: Being present often requires a choice. There are times when you are present in the moment and you haven’t made a conscious decision to be — that is when you are doing something that you are passionate about and it just flows. You are present because that thing is already very important to you and it takes little to no effort to be “in it” completely.
For everything else, there is a choice. When you are with a friend and find yourself thinking about what you need to get at the grocery store later, you can choose to focus. When you are with your oldest child who wants to tell you all about his day and at the same time running around getting dinner ready, cleaning up and keeping the other kids in order, you can choose to focus. You can be with him completely, just for a moment, and he will know he is loved and appreciated. We always have a choice and sometimes it’s hard to remember that when we’re in the thick of it.
Triggers: I have used different triggers to remind myself to be present. I put a dot sticker on the top of my phone screen to remind me to focus. I did the same thing on my dashboard so I would remember to be present during the day while driving. It’s amazing how often we drive and get distracted by our thoughts, forgetting to notice things that are going on around us. Becoming more present while driving has been a real blessing — for me and for others on the road who rely on me to pay attention and create a safe environment.
I wrote on my bathroom mirror “Be Present” and that helped me to start the day thinking about that. You could choose to do whatever works for you — whatever will remind you to focus. Put a dot sticker wherever you think might serve you and remind you to be present. Going forward, I think I might put one on my fridge to remind me to be more present while eating ;).
You could even set a goal for yourself. Mine was 100x in 45 days — what could yours be? How often would you like to be present? Maybe once a day could be a great place to start!
When I set this mindfulness goal, I didn’t realize the amazing effect it would have on my life.
Today, I am a much more focused woman, who can quickly shift from distracted to completely concentrated in an instant. It’s also had a great impact on the people around me — especially my family.
As I continue moving forward, I get to keep practicing being present every day and I know I will keep getting better and better at it.
One day I’d like to live in the moment 80% of the time — anything is possible if I believe it is.