Not being in the moment is bad for your overall wellbeing
Are you mindful every day? Gretchen Rubin, in her book The Happiness Project, relates her experience of driving home with no recollection of going from point A to point B. She said she is sometimes terrified because she has no recollection of watching the road. This is the result of multitasking, where the second task could be just thinking about something else, being preoccupied with other thoughts.
It can be even more terrifying if you consider going through life this way, preoccupied with thoughts of one thing or another and not remembering half of what you did. That’s why it’s so important for your body and your mind to be in the same place at the same time. Scientists claim that being in the now calms the mind and elevates brain function as well as reduces stress. When your mind is rapidly switching from one thought to another, your creativity is at a low.
Some people are thinking of something else when they’re eating and afterwards can’t even recall what they had eaten or how much. Experts agree that simply being conscious of eating will help people eat more healthfully.
According to an article in the December, 2008 issue of Psychology Today, mindfulness reduces stress, boosts immune functioning, reduces chronic pain, lowers blood pressure and even helps patients cope with cancer.
The article also claims that living in the moment reduces the risk of heart disease and that mindful people are happier, more exuberant, more empathetic, and more secure. They also have a higher self-esteem. So as dance instructor Jessica Hayden says, “Focus less on what’s going on in your mind, and more on what’s going on in the room.” Pay attention to your immediate experience.
Keeping a diary, journal or logbook helps keep you in the moment. Use your planner to record events – even the ones that are over. When you write things down it helps get them into your long-term memory. And even those you do forget, you can bring back into consciousness by reviewing them after the fact. That’s why keeping a telephone log (where you make notes while you’re on the telephone) keeps you focused on the conversation and helps you recall the information later – even without reading what you had written. It keeps you in the now.
A paper planner is a great tool for keeping more of your memories intact and slowing down the perceived passage of time. Not only does the act of writing in the appointments and scheduling the important projects and tasks help transfer them to your long-term memory, reviewing those pages after the fact helps solidify them in your memory. Research shows that thinking or talking about an event immediately after it occurs enhances memory for the event. That’s why it’s so important for a witness to recall information as soon as possible after a crime.
The greatest loss of memory is in the first hour or so of the event. By reviewing it in spaced intervals, you are fixing it in your memory. You want as much of the present as possible to be retained so you will recall it in the future. I schedule every significant event in my time planner, even after the fact. In other words when we spontaneously drop into a restaurant or go to a movie or visit friends, I write the details of that event in my planner when I get home. If it’s a restaurant, I take out the receipt and copy the name, address, and telephone number into that block of time, including the names of the people we might have been with at the time. It was unscheduled time; but it becomes scheduled after the fact. By reviewing my planner, I am in effect reviewing my life. And I can readily justify this strange habit by the number of times I have retrieved phone numbers of great restaurants we wanted to revisit or to confirm the name of the movie we saw three weeks ago or to get the name of our friend’s cousin who attended the dinner.
Someone suggested it might be a good idea to also record each day one thing that we’re thankful for. This would reinforce the fact that we should appreciate what we already have. Keeping a journal forces you to concentrate on the present while recording it for the future.