Where Has The Fun Gone?
The Positive Impact of Being Present.
Do you ever find yourself saying things like, "I wish I could just have fun!". You may even be doing something that's supposed to be fun, but you struggle to "be in the moment".
Let me give you a personal example. Dancing! Dancing is supposed to be fun. It's about letting go, feeling free, maybe connecting with friends or loved ones. I know I love to dance, but I still have a massive amount of resistance about stepping onto that dance floor. My inner critic starts saying, "you can't dance" or "they're gonna laugh at your dad moves". Then it gets worse, I start looking around and comparing myself to other guys, and I lose all will to participate.
I hear similar stories from my clients. They make the time to do something they want to do or try, and something shows up to take them out of the moment. One client loves to golf, but as soon as they take a terrible shot, they tighten up, analyse everything, and all sense of fun and play disappear. One client has kids. They want to play with their kids and be present for them, but they are always multi-tasking or distracted.
As humans, we're always looking for progress. We have an innate drive to be seen and be unique. We also have a brain, and Its sole purpose is to solve problems. If we're always looking to make progress and we have a supercomputer to support us, it's no wonder we experience sabotage when we want to experience fun, joy and play. The brain kicks in and shapes you up against your competition; you go into "analysis paralysis", you get a constant reminder that play is not progress, and you're wasting your time.
The bottom line is you end up feeling trapped, judged, worried about failure and worst of all; it sucks the fun out of every moment of play and presence.
There's a quote I love from Richard Branson:
This quote resonates with me because it highlights the importance of being present in the moment. Eckhart Tolle also talks about there not being any problems in the present. He means that if we're in the moment, we can't be thinking about the past, we can't be thinking about the future, and we're not worried about being judged. In the present, we put our brains down and be.
Being present is vital for a healthy, happy and fun life. It reduces the chatter from our inner critic; it helps us deal with anxiety, worry and rumination, and it keeps us grounded. So how can we apply this to our lives to bring the fun back?
Like anything we want to learn, practice is the key. If I asked you to go outside and look at a leaf on a tree for 5 minutes with the sole purpose of being in the moment, I guarantee you you will be thinking about something else within 20 seconds.
Being present doesn't mean you have to sit in the lotus position for extended periods, burning incense and listening to plinky-plonky music. (But please crack on if that's your bag).
There are five straightforward steps you can do in any situation you wish to "be in the moment" for:
1. Focus. Specifically, on what's around you. It's so easy to take everything for granted. When my youngest was learning to speak, we were outside, and he said "tree". We stopped, and I talked to him all about trees. I was really in the moment; it made everything else feel insignificant as I shared this moment with him.
2. Don't multi-task! One sure-fire way to get you out of being in the moment is to think about all the things you have to do or things that are bothering you. If you want to be in the moment, you must commit to the situation. If you're playing with your kids, be all in, put phones away. If you're going dancing, leave your ego and self-judgement at home.
3. Gratitude. Be grateful for the opportunity you have. It could be as simple as being thankful to yourself for taking 10 minutes out of your day to get outside and reset. When you see friends, be grateful for their company without expectations of how the conversation will go.
4. Acceptance. Accept that things are the way they are and don't need to change. One of the ways to snap out of being present is to latch on to our thoughts. Newsflash, we can never stop our thoughts. However, we can notice them and let them go rather than holding onto them tightly and needing to do anything with them.
5. Courage. If being in the moment means letting go of our inhibitions and judgement, we will feel vulnerable. Ok, it doesn't take much courage to walk in a green space and be present. However, if we're going to step over the edge of our comfort zone to be in the moment, we will need courage. Courage is feeling uncomfortable about something and taking action anyway.
So, if yourself draining the fun out of situations, distracted or in "analysis paralysis", chances are, you're not in the moment. Like any muscle we want to grow, it takes training, so let's start your training!
Book out some time in your diary for you. Use this time to go out in nature for a walk. The intention of this walk is to practice the steps in this article. If you're anything like me, your brain will ask how long? How far? What's the point? Let those thoughts come and go and focus on being in nature. I promise you will get something out of it.
If you're struggling with being in the moment and want to stop and create space in your life, please reach out at the following link.
Here's to your journey.