Some days I feel so overwhelmed I think my brain might catch on fire. I know you have felt the same way. It happens on those days when you have way too much going on and you find yourself mentally juggling all the things you must do, should do, and want to do. Let’s not forget you must also be aware of what you are actually doing at that exact moment regardless of the random thoughts bouncing around in your head. You can see how easy it is to spread your thoughts WAY too thin, which often leads to stress. It can’t be healthy.
I recently had a talk with myself about being “present” and enjoying the moment. Since this talk, I have learned there is great peace that comes with being totally in the moment.
First, here is a little background to my “ah-ha!” moment. I am aging (and no, I am not as old as dirt, but maybe getting a little close), so I have decided in my new “season” of life I would revisit my old racing and training days. You see, back in my 30’s and 40’s I participated in everything from marathons to bike races to triathlons. Now, with my kids out of college and more time to train than ever before, I entered the San Angelo Triathlon last August (check out the event page on this blog for more information on this race coming up on Aug. 9) just to see how badly I had fallen off my game. Needless to say, this only whet my appetite to race again. The final straw came when a close friend raved about the fun she recently had completing a 140.6 Iron Man race in Canada.
After hearing her experiences, a green-eyed monster of jealousy emerged within me that I truly didn’t recognize. So with very little pressure from my friend, I signed up for the full Iron Man in Muskoka, Canada this August and she gamely signed up with me. We signed up in October—almost a full year in advance. With that entry fee I had skin and money in the game, and there was nothing stopping me.
My training started in January; but my mental training didn’t kick in until a month later. During my initial training, which most days involved more than one event and usually lasted anywhere from one to four hours, I realized I wasn’t enjoying myself like I had envisioned. Wasn’t all this training supposed to be fun?
My days went like this: wake up, get through a six mile run, hurry home and get dressed to go into the office, leave early and go to the Rec Center for a swim, stop by the grocery store to pick up dinner, throw some laundry in, and make lists of chores to knock out in my spare (HA!) time. Naturally, the entire time I was training my brain was on fire (don’t forget this, do that when you get in the office, call and make that appointment, what should I make for dinner, when can I find time to run to the grocery store, ahhh!) and so the mental juggling began.
THE “AH-HA!” moment: One day, I stopped dead in my tracks on a morning run and thought “What am I doing?” All I could think about was hurrying to get through my training so I could move on to the next item on my list. Goodness gracious I know you know the feeling. We have all been there. Your brain is literally spinning out of control and in the process you are enjoying absolutely nothing.
I decided right then and there that if I was doing this race for fun, the FUN part needed to start now. From that day forward, during my training I decided I would focus only on the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, my breathing, the beautiful morning air, and the neighbors I waved to as I passed by. In other words, I cleared my mind and refused to let anything crowd in that wasn’t absolutely happening in that moment. Then, I realized I could do this with all of my activities. So when I got to my desk and opened my computer, I didn’t let my mind wander to my grocery list or the meeting I had that afternoon, but instead consciously focused only on the task at hand.
It was amazing. I was back to enjoying my life again. The caveat? I became so much more productive. That realization alone added so much joy to my everyday living. It seemed so simple; and yet, the more I spoke with my friends and family, the more I realized that so many people fall into the trap that I had fallen into.
Recognizing the need for mental clarity is always the first step. You are all on your own journey; and great happiness and peace of mind is within reach for every single one of you. You just have to remain in the present!
Hopefully this story will inspire you to stop and re-evaluate how you are or are not living in the moment. If I have learned anything it is that we are totally missing out on the process of life’s journey if we aren’t living in the present.Tweet