Every woman I’ve talked to in the last 6 years of my coaching practice has said they want same thing… more time and to be happier.
Of course, they might not come right out and say it. For one woman, it’s more time with her kids and to feel excitement about life like she used to. For another, it’s having her weekdays match up with her to-do list so she’s not exhausted and can find time to catch up with her girlfriends on the weekend.
I bet there’s a version of this for you too.
Time, or having enough of it, used to be a source of constant stress in my life. Afternoon appointments would mean anxiety in the morning because I was always worried I’d get into the creative flow of things and miss my meeting. I’ve had to dig deep into my relationship with time and learn some tools to help me better manage things.
One of the biggest changes I’ve made is how I think about time.
Have you ever heard the saying “don’t let the future steal your present?” This means that anticipation of what’s coming up can rob you of your ability to be present here and now.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment. It’s one of the key components of meditation, which allows your mind and body to slow down and focus on the present.
You don’t have to sit still on a meditation cushion to be mindful though.
I’ve taught many of my clients how to be more mindful, which involves practicing how to be more present in the moment in anything you’re doing. Mindfulness is adopting a mental attitude of living in the now.
Two very important things happen when you live in the present – your perception of time changes and you feel happier and more at peace.
Let’s look at those two in more detail.
Your mind controls your perception of time
Imagine that you’re on vacation having an amazing dinner with your closest friends. Everyone is laughing and having a great time and then the thought comes into your mind “I don’t want this to end.” A little time passes and another thought pops in “our week is almost over and soon I’ll be heading back to work.”
This type of thinking steals your joy in the moment and it steals your time. You’re taking yourself out of the moment you’re enjoying and mentally projecting that you’re in the future.
It’s tempting to wish time away when you’re looking forward to something exciting. But any time you focus your attention on what’s to come, you miss out on what’s happening right now in front of you.
Mindfulness is a mental habit that you build through practice. If you don’t practice staying present before an exciting event, it will be harder for you to live in the present while the thing is happening.
That’s when you find your special event to be quickly over and done and you wonder where the time went.
You are in control of your experience of time. Whether you realize it or not, the way you think about your time has a lot to do with how time feels to you.
A hug from a loved one can seem like it’s over too soon, while an elevator ride can seem like an eternity when you’re in a rush – yet both lasted the same amount of time.
Future thoughts don’t allow you to be present and soak up as much as you can out of each moment. It’s true that your vacation will eventually end, or the thing you’re excited about will arrive, but you’ll find yourself better able to enjoy the good moments if you savor the time leading up to them.
Happiness lives in the present
The benefits of mindfulness are plentiful. People who live in the moment tend to be happier, more calm, relaxed and experience a deeper sense of gratitude.
When you bring your awareness into the present moment, you have greater access to awareness of your thoughts, emotions and sensations in your body. Tuning in on this level brings you in touch with yourself and increases the likelihood of having your needs met, because you’re aware of what they are.
Living in the moment allows you to mentally slow down. Just like minimalist design brings a greater sense of ease and peace to a room, a focus on what’s happening in the moment will bring you greater satisfaction in anything you do.
When you live in the moment, you participate fully in life and can make the most of what’s happening around you.
A deeper experience of life opens up when you stop mentally rushing or wishing time away – one that will give you more time and greater happiness.