How to Engage in the Present

Do you remember the last thing you did that made you completely lose track of time? Maybe you forgot to eat or continued far into the early morning.

Being fully engaged leads to a happier and more fulfilling life. When we are engaged, the present moment is justified. Design a more fulfilling life by noticing and engaging in activities for the sake of the experience.

Self-awareness has been an exploration focus since my college years. Here some great ideas that I have gleaned from my research:

1. Notice When You Lose Track of Time

Identify flow activities by noticing when you lose track of time. When you were a child, what projects did you undergo for the fun of it? When no one told you what to do, what came naturally?

“Lose yourself. Immerse in activity. Emerge stronger.”

Check out “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero for more on getting into your groove. She has some great stories about her teenage Crotch band. Also, check out “Flow, the Psychology of Optimal Experiences,” by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, and learn to turn see challenges as enjoyable growth.

2. Purposely Explore New Ideas

As children we’re naturally curious. At some point we get really serious and stop learning. Developing a curious mindset keeps you in a place of learning and helps you to turn obstacles into challenges.

The first step is always awareness. Start noticing what peaks your interest and intentionally explore further. Make a project out of it. Find collaborators. Put it in your calendar. Take pictures. Being curious helps you to immerse in immediate activities.

Bring back that childish nature and start asking why. When you ask tons of questions, you get tons of answers. Try taking notes throughout the day. Remember that the only stupid questions are the ones you didn’t ask.

3. Become Comfortable with Uncertainty

Over-planning the future can shut out opportunities. After years of trying to plan out every detail of my life, I realized that I was narrowing my view and losing spontaneity. College friends used to mess with me for planning spontaneous days. Being more open-minded allows us to explore what comes naturally and create meaning.

4. Practice Developing Your Favorite Strengths

Notice what you are naturally good at, and then consider the strengths that you enjoy using. Instead of comparing with everyone else, we can work with our natural abilities. Notice what scares you or what projects you procrastinate the most on. That project is likely tied with your soul’s calling.

“The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel towards pursuing it,” Stephen Pressfield, “The War of Art.”

5. Do What Naturally Brings You Joy

The present moment is justified when what you are doing is naturally fulfilling. Sometimes we get stuck in trying to get somewhere or to attain something. Each moment becomes a means to an end.

“Develop skills for the sake of the experience rather than the showcase of one’s expertise,” Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi.

6. Cultivate Your Curiosity

Try treating every day like an adventure. Life is meant to be explored. As children we are naturally curious. At some point people lose sight of that. Get very curious. What are you learning?

❤️ Writing on psychology, feminism, and relationships. Words in: The Ascent, Better Advice, Fearless She Wrote, CYMCYL, An Injustice, and The Virago. (she/her)

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