Do you ever feel as if life is moving so fast that you don’t have the time to enjoy it? Maybe you’re consumed with family responsibilities and the expectations of others. Maybe you’re buried under work deadlines. Or, maybe you’ve simply forgotten how to slow down and live in the moment. The storm of daily life often makes it hard to take a step back.
We live in a society where we often rush through tasks, trying to get them done as quickly as possible and finishing as much as we can each day (even for those of us living on the Outer Banks!). Unfortunately, we don’t take the time to realize how unnecessary the craziness of everyday life is that we create. At the end of the day, we’re often exhausted and stressed out from the “daily grind” and the chaos of the day. A big part of the problem is that we don’t make time for what’s important to us – for what we really want to be doing, like spending time with loved ones, or doing things we’re passionate about.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to live a simpler life – one where you truly enjoy each activity and find your own internal, peaceful place. One where you are present in everything you do. A life where you are content in slowing down rather than rushing to finish every task on your “to do” list. If you’d like to live a more peaceful life, here are some suggestions on how you can slow down and live in the moment.
DECIDE WHAT IS IMPORTANT.
Take a step back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and think about what’s truly important to you. What do you really want to be doing? Who do you want to spend your time with? What do you want to accomplish in your professional life? Try making a short list of 4-5 things you’d like to do in your life, 4-5 people you want to spend time with, and 4-5 things you’d like to accomplish in your career.
EXAMINE YOUR COMMITMENTS.
Much of our stress is due to the fact that our lives are “overbooked.” We can’t possibly do everything that’s on our calendar and we certainly can’t enjoy those things if we’re trying to do them all. Accept that you can’t do everything and find time to do what’s important to you. You’ll soon find that it’s easy to eliminate the commitments that aren’t as important.
Another tip – if you have children, make sure not to over schedule their lives. They, too, can learn to have a simple and peaceful life.
DO LESS EACH DAY.
Don’t cram as much as you can into each day; you will end up rushing to try and finish everything on your task list. If you normally try to do 7-10 things, try to do three important ones instead (with three more smaller items to do if you get those three done). This will give you time to do what you need to do, and not rush.
LEAVE TIME BETWEEN TASKS OR APPOINTMENTS.
Another mistake is trying to schedule things back-to-back. This leaves no cushion in case things take longer than planned (which they always do), and it also gives us a feeling of being rushed and stressed throughout the day. Instead, leave a good-sized gap between your appointments or tasks allowing you to focus more on each one and have a transition time between them.
SLOW DOWN AND ENJOY EVERY TASK.
Whatever you’re doing… whether it’s a work task, eating, brushing your teeth, cooking dinner, or even driving to work: just slow down. Try to enjoy whatever you’re doing. Try to pay attention to the task at hand instead of thinking about other things. Be in the moment. This isn’t easy, as you will often forget, but find a way to remind yourself.
Eat slowly. Eating is something we do every day so it deserves special attention.
Drive more slowly. Driving is something we do so often that it becomes mindless and rushed. Instead, slow down and enjoy the journey.
SINGLE-TASK; DON’T MULTI-TASK.
If your attention is divided between multiple tasks, it is impossible to live in the moment. Instead, choose to single task and focus fully on experiencing the task at hand. Zen monks practice this in every aspect of their life. If they are sweeping, they focus completely on sweeping. If they are cutting vegetables, they cut vegetables and nothing else. Focus on one task at a time and live in the moment.
DON’T LET TECHNOLOGY TAKE OVER YOUR LIFE.
In a world of smartphones, iPads, and laptops, it’s easy to get caught up in what’s going on around you 24/7. Try making boundaries for emails, Facebook, Twitter, texting, and smartphones – like making the dinner table a “technology-free” zone. It will cut down on the feeling of chaos in your daily life. It’s simple. Find the causes of stress in your life and find ways to eliminate them
DO NOTHING AND CREATE TIME FOR SOLITUDE.
Sometimes, it’s good to forget about that ever-growing task list and do nothing. So, even if it’s for just a moment, ignore your list, do nothing and don’t worry.
In addition to doing nothing, it’s also very important to make time for yourself. If you don’t slow down and focus on yourself and your well-being from time to time, you can’t care for others in your life.
PRACTICE BEING PRESENT AND MAKE TIME FOR SIMPLE PLEASURES.
You can practice being in the moment at any time during the day. The key methods of being present include paying attention instead of daydreaming, observing what is going on around you, breathing attentively and meditating.
Knowing what your simple pleasures are and putting a few of them in your task list each day can go a long way in making life more enjoyable.