“The Importance of Right Now”
4 minute read
I was at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire enjoying a day out with my family.
It was a perfect spring day and what felt like the start of summer. The sky was a glorious vibrant blue with just a few bright white clouds dotted around, drifting slowly. As my family organised a picnic on the grass in front of me, I sat back on a bench and listened to the birds singing.
The moment was perfect, and I looked around me and felt truly grateful for what I had. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the warming feeling of the sun on my skin, and it occurred to me that for the first time in quite a while, I wasn’t thinking about anything other than this moment. I wasn’t thinking about the latest feature for this website, I wasn’t thinking about work, I wasn’t thinking about the woman I was dating, and I wasn’t thinking about the jobs I needed to do when I got back home.
My mind was clear and still.
I was completely in the here and now.
And this got me thinking of how easy it is for us to become distracted from the present moment, consumed by thoughts of, well, anything other than what is actually happening to us right now. To simply be present and to be in a full state of awareness has almost become a rare occurrence, and a forgotten skill.
There seems to be so much around us these days which craves our attention, and as consumers we are so easily drawn in. There is an almost infinite amount of television channels, many of which are crammed full of useless rubbish which appeal to our inner idiot. Tune in, unplug your brain, and feel your intellect drain away.
There is box set after box set that demands us to sit down and let hours upon hours of our lives disappear as we tune in for yet another six seasons of the latest, whatever.
Even videogames (nerd alert) have become so ridiculously huge that they take an eternity to complete, and that’s before you even get to the online content and downloadable extras (extreme nerd alert).
Every waking moment seems to be filled with something and to take a time out from it all has become something that we consider a treat, rather than a way of being. We have so much to do, with what feels like so little time. It’s no wonder that the days, weeks, months, and years, just seem to fly by.
And then there’s social media, that perfect combination of friend and foe that screams at us from every angle and threatens to consume our every waking moment.
With social media it can be so easy to be drawn into the lives of other people and what they’re doing, drawing comparisons and measuring ourselves by who and what they are, rather than simply taking a step back and looking at ourselves, by ourselves, and for ourselves.
Facebook is like that person at a party who at first seems really friendly and full of interesting stories, yet by the end of the night actually becomes something of an annoying idiot who does nothing but brag about what they have and how they’re so much better than you. They’re okay in small doses, but you soon see straight through them.
There can be times when we’re hanging out with friends, doing whatever it is we’re doing, but instead of just enjoying the moment with the people we’re with, we find ourselves sat with our phones in our hands, flicking through our newsfeeds to see what other people are up to instead; people who are currently elsewhere, people who have absolutely nothing to do with your present moment or the friends that we’re with.
When we’re driving from A to B we very often arrive without even remembering the journey. We’re on auto-pilot, spending the journey thinking about what we need to do when we arrive, about when we need to go food shopping next, or about how we forgot to clip our toenails this morning (it really is annoying when that happens). What we very often forget to do is to just enjoy the journey itself, paying attention to our surroundings, or to the music that’s playing and how it fits in as a soundtrack to the moment.
Being in the present not only benefits you, but it also benefits others. Very often we can be speaking to people without really listening to what they’re saying, but when you do listen and truly pay attention to everything that they say and how they say it, you may see a whole other side to them. You may find that they’re not just speaking for the sake of it, and that right now they really need somebody.
There are people around us all of the time that are experiencing hardships that we don’t know about, and sometimes all they really need is for somebody to look them in the eyes and to listen; for somebody to give them a moment of their time. A minute or two of sincerity may be all that they really need.
They may also have some incredibly exciting news that they wish to share, yet are struggling to find anybody who wants to listen. To show genuine interest in other people’s lives is much rarer than you’d believe, and so when you make that effort it has the ability to have a tremendous impact on them. They’ll never forget you for that.
When we do live in the moment and start to take notice of all the smaller things, a whole new side to life opens up. It suddenly becomes apparent that sometimes it’s the simplest of things that can give us the happiness that we thought we’d have to search long and hard for. Yet these gifts are around us all of the time; all day, every day. All we need to do is look.
It may make me sound like something of a hippy, but how often do you just sit and pay complete attention to the moment you’re in without letting your thoughts wander at all? When you’re sat in the garden, how often do you just sit and watch the birds flying from tree to free, or observing the way the flowers dance in the afternoon breeze? And when you’re out with your friends, how often do you just look around and take that moment in, appreciating that the people you care about are all here with you at this given time and on this given day?
We need to switch off the auto-pilot. We need to tune in to the here and now. We need to be grateful for everything that we have right before us.
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