Living in the moment can feel like an impossible task in today’s world. Social media alerts, emails, and text messages call you away from whatever task we’re attempting to perform.
And technology isn’t the only reasons we’re distracted. There’s a tug-of-war going on in our brains. We’re rehashing what happened yesterday one minute, and worrying about what might happen tomorrow the next.
Why living in the here and now matters
The only time you can change your behavior is right now. You can’t go back and undo that mistake you made yesterday. And you can’t leap ahead to make sure you perform well tomorrow. All you can do is change how you’re behaving right now.
But, to change your behavior, you must be present in the moment. When you’re mindful, you’re fully aware of what is happening right here, right now. That’s when you’re able to perform at your peak.
Most of us are rarely living in the present moment, however. According to a study by the Microsoft Corp, the average attention span in today’s world is about eight seconds. That means goldfish have longer attention spans than humans.
Another study found that we’re distracted 47% of the time. The study also found that being distracted takes a serious toll on our happiness.
It’s no wonder most people feel unproductive and frazzled. We’re terrible multi-taskers, yet we can’t stick to a single task.
Benefits of mindfulness
Everyone from elite athletes to top business executives are starting to harness the power of mindfulness. Emerging research continues to show just how powerful living in the moment can be. Here are just a few benefits of mindfulness:
• Increased relationship satisfaction: Couples who practice mindfulness have healthier relationships. They report less conflict and improved communication.
• Improved physical health: Studies have linked mindfulness to a wide range of health benefits, including reduced pain and lower blood pressure. Mindfulness has also been found to boost immunity.
• Decreased emotional reactivity: Studies indicate that mindfulness can decrease the intensity of negative emotions. You’ll be better able to perform better, despite whatever difficulties you’re experiencing around you.
• Heightened focus: Researchers have found that mindfulness improves attention. With practice, you’ll be better able to ignore distractions and stay on task.
• Increased mental strength: Studies show mindfulness reduces stress and improves psychological health. People who practice mindfulness lower their risk of mental health problems.
Train your brain to be still
Imagine what it would be like to be fully focused on your work. And think of how wonderful it would feel to be completely present when you’re playing with your kids or talking to your partner. You could fully enjoy what was happening without your mind wandering.
Or, what if your whole workforce learned mindfulness? It’s likely that happiness and productivity would skyrocket, which isn’t just good for the employees, it’s also good for the company’s bottom dollar.
The good news is, anyone can learn to train to their brains to be mindful. Just like any new skill, it takes dedication and commitment. But with practice, it gets easier.
Learning mindfulness can be as simple as learning to concentrate on your breath. Paying attention as you inhale and exhale.
But of course, in our world full of distractions, staying focused on something so simple isn’t an easy task. There are lots of books, CDs and seminars that can help improve your mindfulness skills.