If you’ve been around these parts much, then you know I’m a do-er. I’ve been task oriented for as long as I can remember, living off lists and thriving on pressure. The more you add, the faster I become, streamlining processes and eliminating waste.
This works amazingly well for business relationships. People don’t like when you waste their time and employers love when you get the job of two people done in eight hours. Because, of course.
I’ve found it doesn’t work so hot in personal relationships though. People wonder why you get straight to business in phone calls or emails instead of exchanging appropriate pleasantries. Friends expect you to open up a little about what’s going on in your life – like what’s going on with YOU, not with your projects or the little people you’re raising. Spouses want to know what’s going on inside your heart and head.
For a long time, talks like these made me sweat and get all fluttery inside. I didn’t know how to do it well and it was anything but comfortable.
Over the last few years, I’ve learned how to be more relational, and for me, this has meant living more in the moment and being emotionally present with those I’m with. It takes an active consciousness of being thoughtful and purposeful with my time and attention.
If you’re anything like me, or perhaps just want to get better at connecting with the people you love, here are some things I do to live more fully:
Step one: Clear Your Mind –
Y’all, when you’re trying to accomplish the tasks on your list, you’re most likely going a mile-a-minute and flying by the seat of your pants. To connect with those around you, take a major chill pill and slow down…. like way down.
As a work-at-home-mom, I try to fit work in between all the crazy moments of raising my children. Taking a step back to scrutinize what was working about my schedule and what wasn’t has helped me prioritize the best times to connect with the important people in my life.
I’m more productive because instead of multi-tasking, I have blocks set aside to get my work done and other blocks to interact with people. It’s helped me be able to mentally set aside the projects and just be.
The process helped me realize that the list will never be done – the job will always takes as much as I will give it and ask for more in return. I get to determine how much time I will devote each day, and be okay leaving some projects for the long-term or eliminating some all together.
I was able to free up mental space to slow down and smell the roses (not sure I’ll ever be able to fully stop!). I’ve place boundaries on myself that have proven necessary and helpful in being able to spend time with my children reading a book or playing a game, and going out with friends without a constant nagging that something else needs done.
Step Two: Open Your Eyes
Once you’ve managed to clear your mind, you can begin to open your eyes. Live in the moment by taking in the details around you as if you’re going to tell a story later. What is the person you’re with wearing, do they smell like a certain perfume, what color is the sky, are the birds singing, crickets chirping, fireflies dancing?
What does the first few bites of my food actually taste like? Are there certain ingredients I can pick out of the bunch? Have you ever noticed how salt brings out the taste of ginger? Or strawberries tame the bite of a jalepeno?
Being able to slow down time in your mind and record the events happening around you brings a beauty that almost takes your breath away. When I find myself in the midst of a really fun moment, it’s almost as if life is in slow motion. I’ll concentrate on the faces of who I’m with… trying to record the way their eyes sparkle and their skin crinkles when they smile. It amazes my soul every time.
Step Three: Use your ears.
To really lock in on those around you, take the time to listen. Listen to what they’re saying and what they aren’t saying. Read between the lines and ask questions. Be curious about their experiences. Not only what they did, but how they felt when they were doing it. Try to take the conversation one step further, one question further, one nugget further. Just for the fun of it.
Using your senses like your eyes, ears, taste and smell helps you live more in the moment. Stephen Schueller, psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, found that those who are able to live in the moment and really take notice of their surroundings saw an increase in positive emotions like joy and happiness and a decrease in depressive emotions. I’ve found this to be true.
Being in the moment takes practice if you’re a producer, like me. You have to train yourself to make people an important part of your day. It’s the opposite of doing. You can’t “do” anything to “be” there…. you have to strip yourself of any motivation in getting anything done except connecting.
A huge shift for me was leaving the pressure of social media posting behind and living the moment for me. My mind was geared to share, share, share what I was experiencing and feeling with the multitudes of people that are on the web instead of sharing the experience and feeling with the people I was with. Changing my mindset to stopping the producing/performing and allowing myself to be lost in the moment without a thought of anyone but those in the room has freed my mind up for the important connections. Does this mean I never share on Facebook or Instagram? No, but I found my engagement “there” was impeding my engagement “here.” Making a conscious decision to disconnect from technology has made a huge impact on the connections I’m making in real life.
You will be amazed how much more alive you feel when you take in the people, sights, smells, and tastes all around you. You start to appreciate the small things and cherish the ordinary. I’d venture to say, you start to really live.
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Another excellent post Leighann!