This week, we talked about using your mindfulness skillset to catch yourself checking out of the present moment when (you think) the future is really where you want to be. With summer being full of graduations, internships, travel, and other evidence that life’s experiences are fleeting, odds are good that there’s something on your short-term agenda that has “short-timer” written all over it. Even if your calendar isn’t marked with a life transition immediately ahead, you may be doing the same exact thing simply because it’s Friday, and you’re already playing past today in preparation for tonight. Sounds like a mindfulness challenge right in front of you, but truth is, that’s kind of where they always are.
So, in keeping with our Friday tradition (and the point of mindfulness overall), this weekend’s challenge is about checking in. The twist is that you’re going to bring your awareness to (as in, call yourself out on) a situation in your life that isn’t over yet, but that you’ve stopped being present for because you think you’ve just about wrapped it up. I say “think” because even when experiences have fixed end dates, they sometimes surprise you. Hasn’t anyone ever moved a finish line on you? It stinks, but it happens. Regardless, you are where you are right now, and today is a day you only get to see once. Declaring it over before it really is means not only mentally living in a future that may not come to pass, but also missing out on lots of potentially great little moments – and opportunities to shine – today.
When we aren’t present, people notice. We can all tell when someone isn’t really listening, or even paying attention, even if they think they’re doing a great job looking engaged. As a result, we might pull back on our expectations of them and what we think they are capable of, in that moment or perhaps even beyond. You never know what the consequences of not being present might be, because you don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t see what you don’t see. In the worst case, you may realize it later in the form of regret, but often, we are blind to the opportunities we miss by not paying attention.
There’s a famous quote from filmmaker Woody Allen that “80% of life is just showing up.” Presumably he means just physically bringing yourself to the place where good things can happen for you. No doubt, there’s something to that. I’m not sure it’s quite as high as 80%, though…but even if it were, it’s what can happen with that other 20% that I’d be most interested in.
Have a present, full, and happy weekend!
Photo credit: Andres Iga