I think we’re all pretty much divided into two types of people: planners and those who like to fly by the seats of their pants. I happen to be a planner. And please don’t mess up my plans unless you have a darned good reason that you can articulate quickly.
But I think both groups need to be careful about one thing. We both need to be more present. We planners are already twelve steps or weeks ahead of everyone else while seat-of-the-pantsers, sometimes, don’t care if they’re in the past, present or future. They have fun wherever they are.
But we both need to learn the art of now. Life unfolds in the present. But too often we let those precious moments slip away while worrying about the future or ruminating about the past. When we’re at work, we daydream about our upcoming vacation. Then we go on that vacation and worry about the work piling up on our desks back home. Put on the brakes.
Some of the experts call living in the moment: Mindfulness. We have to be more mindful of the here and now. We’ve all seen the resisters. You go to a restaurant and the family seated next to you — every single one of them — has his or her head buried in a cell phone or tablet. And not one of them manages to say a single word during dinner. So why bother? When I was growing up, I would pray for a quiet moment at dinner. Not a chance. But we were all mindful and present; although the present was awfully loud!
A few researchers claim that mindfulness produces a whole host of benefits. It supposedly reduces stress, boosts the function of your immune system, reduces chronic plan, lowers blood pressure and helps patients cope with cancer. Seems like a long list….but that’s what “they” say.
So how do you reap all those benefits? Let’s go back to the experts. Don’t do anything. Just sit there. You’re not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere. Just stay in the moment. Pay attention to your immediate experience. Although if your immediate experience includes jogging, just sitting there may prove problematic.
In her memoir, author Elizabeth Gilbert writes about a friend who, whenever she sees a beautiful place, exclaims in a near panic: It’s so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday! “It takes all my persuasive powers,” writes Gilbert, “to try to convince her that she is already here.” Remember: Be present.
One of my friends is like Elizabeth’s. We go out once a month. The minute we sit down at our monthly meet up, she starts talking about what we are going to do next month. One month at a time, Dear. Be present and be healthy. Sounds like a plan.
Lynne Conlan is Executive Director of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce. Call her at 813-634-5111, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.