Every holiday season, I travel to my hometown to visit family. I always enjoy our time together, sharing in family traditions, favorite foods, and plenty of laughs. But I started to notice that I often spent the last day of my visit thinking about what we didn’t get to do together—because the time always seems to go so quickly—and about packing, travel logistics, and the to-do list that awaited me when I arrived home. Because I got distracted by these thoughts of the past and future, I missed being fully present with my family in those precious last hours we had together.
Do you ever find yourself ruminating about the past or obsessing over the future?
As a society, we’re often consumed with what “could have been” or “could be” or “should be” in our lives.
It’s not that we don’t ever want to reflect on the past, create goals, or plan for the future. Those are important actions to ensure we’re constantly growing. The issue comes up when we spend way too much time in the past or the future—to the point where we undervalue or even ignore our real-time life, missing opportunities for joy, connection, growth, and impact in the present moment.
This year I’ve been working to change my mindset during my holiday visits. First, I’ve become more aware of when I start thinking about the past and the future. Then, I actively choose to let go of those worries and focus on what’s happening in the present moment so I can make the most of that last bit of time with my family.
Here are some steps you can take to cultivate mindfulness in the present during this holiday season and beyond:
LET GO OF THE PAST
Your past is important because it’s shaped you into who you are today. Acknowledge how your past has had an influence on today—how it’s given you strength, built your resilience, or changed you for the better. Then, do what you need to consciously let go. Say it out loud, write it down, or physically move to another space. Remember that what’s already happened cannot be changed. You can only control what is within your power in the present moment. Shift your mindset to what’s happening right now and take action from there.
SUSPEND THE FUTURE
Whether you’re excited about what’s to come or dreading it, the future can also distract you from being present. If you’re constantly thinking of next steps, upcoming events or tomorrow’s to-dos, take one small action that will help you suspend that future moment. For example, do one purposeful thing to prepare, or allocate another time when you’ll take care of whatever needs to be done, so you can stop fixating on it and return to the present moment.
LIVE YOUR REAL-TIME LIFE
Slow down and savor today. Look into people’s eyes, take in your surroundings, and utilize all of your senses. Block out distractions. What do you feel, want, need, and hope for in this moment? Life is here and now, and anything is possible. Sometimes, the present moment can feel a little uncomfortable, but sit with those emotions and you’ll soon experience true, meaningful change.
As we head into the new year, use these prompts to create purposeful moments of real-time influence:
- Let go of what’s holding you back. What would become possible if you let go of the past and lived fully in the present? How would it feel?
- Consider how the future is distracting you. How can you channel your energy back into the present, making the most of today and setting yourself up for future success?
- Open your eyes to the opportunities right in front of you. Where can you make a real-time impact?
Your thoughts and actions today are what have impact. Embrace who you are right now and all that the present moment has to offer.
If you’d like to further explore mindfulness and harness the power of the present, enroll in Fit Within’s Foundational Growth Program. You’ll learn how to be where your feet are during each step of your journey toward transformational growth. Sign up today and tap into your full potential!