Ever feel like you’re wishing your life away? Maybe you’re dealing with lots of deadlines, mountains of work, problems with a child, or looking forward to being
done with something difficult. Or maybe you’re excited about an upcoming
graduation, event, or something fun that’s further down the road.
It’s totally fine to look ahead, especially when we’re dealing with things we don’t
want to, but it gets sticky when we’re constantly in a state of wanting to fast forward our lives. Suddenly you look around and go, I can’t believe another year
has passed, where did it go?! I’ve heard from a lot of brides, who spend months planning their wedding, report the actual day itself was a blur because they were so busy, the whole thing felt like a whirlwind. It becomes a bit of a letdown, sometimes even disappointing. That can turn into the kind of disappointment that lingers.
When we’re always looking forward to the next “thing”, whether good or bad, we
tend to miss all the cool, little things happening in our daily lives. What is the simplest way to stop wishing your life away?
Mindfulness is about bringing our full attention to the present moment. It’s about the ability to be present with what’s happening inside of us, as it’s happening. We often do this without even knowing it, so the first step to practicing mindfulness is just recognizing when we’re already doing it and expanding from there. Once we recognize when we already do something, we can then be intentional about doing it regularly.
How does this help us stop wishing our life away?
Research indicates that savoring a moment of experience for at least 30 seconds strengthens the traces of neural firing in our memory1. Not only are you maximizing the enjoyment in the moment, but there’s also the added benefit of allowing you to more easily recall these positive memories in times of stress. This is hugely important since we don’t have control over all the stressors in our lives, but we do control how we react to them.
I’m guessing you’ve eaten while watching a show since most of us have done this a few times, if not regularly. Have you ever finished your meal and realized you don’t even remember tasting it? When you really think about it, it’s kind of a waste! You enjoyed your show, but completely missed your meal. I’m also guessing you could think of other examples where you’ve autopiloted through an activity.
How do I start practicing mindfulness?
Can you think of the best meal you’ve ever had in your life? Close your eyes and go back to that moment. You were probably holding on to every bite, feeling and tasting all the textures and flavors, taking in the aroma, not wanting it to end. If you’re anything like me, you might’ve said “Oh my god, this is sooooooo good!” a couple of times and considered ordering more even after you were stuffed.
What’s cool about this example is that you practiced mindfulness without even realizing it. You were fully present in those moments. Moving forward, try to catch yourself the times you’re really savoring or enjoying whatever you’re doing. You might find that time moves a little slower (in a good way) while you’re building up a really cool reservoir of positive memories.
You stop yourself wishing your life away when you can appreciate the day-to-day little things – even during times where it feels like everything kind of sucks.
Even on our worst days, there’s usually at least a few moments we can stop to revel in whatever we’re already doing. You don’t have to fake it, finding just a few moments can make a difference. Maybe there’s few minutes before leaving the house to enjoy your coffee or tea; or being fully present when you’re spending time with someone you care about; or any other activity you enjoy, however brief.
Mindfulness has other benefits, like helping you deal with really challenging situations and emotions, allowing us to act with greater clarity and intention without getting swept away. I love to incorporate mindfulness into sessions as a way to bring intention into every facet of my client’s lives. It takes practice, but I’ve seen how transformative it can be.
Having difficulty staying present and interested to learn more? Book a free 20-minute consultation.
1. Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being