Are you living in the present moment? How often do you stop to think about how amazing it is to have all the conveniences of modern life – from air conditioning to the Internet? We take for granted when we wake up every day that we have electricity, clean water to drink, plenty of food to select from in grocery stores, and so forth.
I was reminded of this when my client Henry, age 96, said to me during a recent visit: “Do you realize that we live better than the wealthiest kings ever did in medieval times, or even how people lived just a couple hundred years ago? We have heat, indoor plumbing, a thousand channels on TV to entertain us, cell phones, microwaves, refrigerators…things have changed so much since I was a boy. It seems sometimes that my kids and grandkids are so focused on getting more and more things, they forget to appreciate what they already have.”
He thought about this some more and added: “But – I was probably the same way at their age. I never stopped to slow down and smell the roses. Would probably make everyone happier if they did though.”
Henry had a point. There is plenty of evidence to show that practicing gratitude and being mindful – appreciating what we see and feel in the present moment – can reduce stress and improve mental and physical well-being. Every day we have the opportunity to slow down and practice mindfulness. Here are four ways to be more mindful:
- Practice a simple breathing meditation. Sit upright in a quiet place and simply pay attention to your breath. Observe the wandering of your thoughts without judgment. Try this for five to ten minutes a day.
- Notice your environment. When you are walking or driving, observe the sights, smells, and sounds.
- Savor the experiences. During meals, take the time to really taste what you are eating and drinking. Slow down and focus on one task at a time, giving it your full attention. Pretend you’re experiencing everything for the first time…a baby’s laughter, the smell of freshly baked bread, the feeling of the sun on your face.
- Practice listening. The next time you have a conversation with someone, focus entirely on what the person is saying, and not what you are going to say next.
Enjoy your moments and remember that the joys in life are often found in the little things.
If you or someone in your family are facing aging challenges, please give us a call at 765-341-9295 or email us at Shannon@AgingLifeCareConsultants.com. We’ll be happy to assist!