My mind often jumps between thoughts like a flea on ecstasy.
This can be helpful for new ideas or inspiration, but is often detrimental to meaningful conversation and sticking to one task.
If you’re the kind of person who catches yourself floating away in a day dream during work meetings or tuning in mid-sentence, then you may susceptible to over-thinking.
Jumping in and out of the present moment is easy, and addictive.
Tuning out of undesirable conversations or fantasizing over that dream holiday and perfect career can be incredibly satisfying, which is why it’s sometimes so difficult to stay stuck in to the here-and-now- especially when the present moment is not so pleasant (such as before a big swim set or the moment before starting a major task at work).
I’ve been making an active effort recently to remain present in the here-and-now.
It may sound wafty and hippie-esk, but every time my mind jumps away from current tasks, my productivity shatters and I spend the next few minutes picking up the pieces just to return to the place I left off.
Whether it’s work, study, reading or even watching the telly, training the mind to zone in on the moment can be an arduous task.
When I’m trying to think in the present, I’m not contemplating what I need to do this afternoon, what will be on my dinner plate at night, or the meeting I have in two hours time.
Slipping out of the present moment is like having a mind littered with potholes. Abstract thought will trip you every few minutes and languish productivity, stoking feelings of unease, pressure, even anxiety.
See, it’s easier to be miserable than it is to be happy.
It is easier to say ‘I’m tired’, ‘it’s a Monday’ or ‘I’m sore’ and relinquish accountability.
It’s a defence mechanism, ensuring expectation is laid comfortably on the floor because, heaven forbid, we go after our goals feeling less than perfect and get beaten, miss the target or get slammed with negative feedback.
It is easier to fail when we have already accepted defeat.
Misery is comfortable and negativity is normal. It’s why so many people complain without noticing its infectious effects on everyone in the vicinity. The unintentional Dementors gain strength from the parasitic need to voice insecurities, aches, pains and troubles.
Those complaints slip from the lips of the best of us, a tool used to diffuse unwanted emotions or even connect with those who naturally converse in negativity.
Ceaseless positivity is unsustainable, life is innately unfair and cruel at times, but there is no excuse for consistently dragging others in to a pit of negativity.
Navigating the maze of poor attitudes of those around us can be excutriatngly difficult when we are forced to occupy the same space for hours every day, but learning how to keep a cool head and stay steadfast with your attitude can help alleviate stress and keep you bound to the present.
An article published in the Huffpost even identified that “90 percent of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain in control. One of their greatest gifts is the ability to neutralize toxic people. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ to keep toxic people at bay”
One of Oprah’s most cited quotes, “You are responsible for the energy you bring” articulates this point perfectly.
While negative thoughts and language may distort our view of the world, our brains also have a tendency to indulge in lavish day-dreams which impact productivity, motivation and focus.
I know mine does.
Living in the past, future or fictitious fantasies is like dessert for the brain. It tastes so good indulging in non-realities- the ‘what if’s’ and imaginary conversations.
It is genuinely difficult making a conscious decision to watch where my mind goes.
Just like sugar, that addictive little agent, my mind tries to pull me away from the present. It is infuriating at times to notice how often it will spring to irrelevant information that takes me away from what needs my attention.
I’ve become increasingly aware that my internal dialogue is fat on the desserts of past, present or fictitious thinking. It’s time to clean up my mental diet.
-But, life is best with balance. The cakes (non-present thinking, day dreaming and fantasizing) have their place, but it is fresh, whole foods (present thinking) which keep us productive, mentally fit and ready to tackle a challenge from idea to execution.
It’s time to live in the moment.