Hello SOTGC community,
Oprah is right. Many of us need reminders like this. Live in the moment.
But, do we actually practice it?
Even before writing this blog about living in the moment, I caught myself checking my phone, typing an email, eating my lunch, and talking to a coworker. ALL AT ONCE.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little bit impressed by my multi-tasking skills.
But, for the most part, I was disappointed in myself. I know better than that! I preach to my students every day about the importance of being present. Because when you aren’t present, that’s when your work suffers. That’s when you let your team down. That’s when you let life pass you by. Studies also show those who actively try and live in the present and focus their energy on living in the moment are less stressed and happier people.
So, why do we deny ourselves of this? Is it because we do not know successful practices to change these bad habits?
I think so.
These are five things I tell my students to do in the classroom and in real life. Practice these. Get good at these. And you’ll notice changes in your life. When we practice these skills in the classroom, the transformations that happen within my students over the course of several weeks is remarkable. Who they were when they walked in – are not who they are when they walk out.
1) FOCUS ON WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW.
Allow yourself to sit back, clear away all your thoughts, and just…
You may notice you’ve become acutely aware of the air conditioning or the buzzing lights above you. That’s a good start. You know why? Because for a moment, you weren’t dwelling on what happened in the past and you weren’t concerned with what may or may not happen in the future. Your thoughts were not robbing you of the present moment. Your thoughts of worry or regret or pressure did not have control.
2) DON’T BE ALL ‘JUDGEY.’ STOP THAT. RIGHT NOW.
Embrace the good, the bad, and everything in between. We all judge ourselves. But, you can’t do anything with that little critic in your head getting all your attention. When it controls you, you are at a standstill. Living in the moment means you don’t judge yourself on things that haven’t even happened yet. So, please, pretty please, make a pact with that little critic to “create now, evaluate later.” If you do this, you’ll begin to take those steps towards your goals. That little critic will always be there, ready to tell you when you’ve failed. But, failure is a part of success, and it’s what we learn from our failures that make us successful. Checkmate, critic.
3) JUST BREATHE
Just like Oprah said: breathe. I know it sounds simple. But, it is not. Our breath is how you can anchor yourself to what is happening right this moment. When you feel anxious or stressed or even on the verge of a breakdown, breathing deliberately and slowly in and out can change your body chemistry. It can bring back clarity and calm the nerves in an instant. Place your hand just above your belly button and inhale through your nose. Feel the air filling your lungs as your diaphragm contracts and moves downward, giving you a fabulous air “beer belly.” Exhale fully through your mouth and feel your shoulders relax and your nice flat tummy return. You are now ready for the next moment.
4) BE THANKFUL
If you are running from meeting to meeting all day, it’s hard to stop and smell the proverbial roses. This change will certainly affect the way you look at the world around you. Why wait for an “ah-ha!” moment, a national holiday when we eat turkey, or even a tragic event to snap you back into reality of what is really important in your life?Big or small – it doesn’t matter. Do you love your family and friends? Tell them how much they mean to you. Did you make all the green lights on the way to work this morning? Score! Are you happy you can afford those shoes you’re wearing? Give thanks for that! Living in the moment will remind you of all the wonderful and great things you have around you right now. Why waste any more time thinking about the things you do not have?
5) LET GO
You are the only thing in this world you can control.So, knowing that and then stressing about what is out of your control, (everything else) will only hurt, you. Let go. When you are able to let go – there is a freedom that comes with it. There is even a catchy Disney song all the kids are singing these days. So next time you hear it, I hope it’ll serve as a reminder for you to do just that.
These are just a few of the things we routinely practice in an improv class. And despite what some may think, improvisation is not just for performers. It’s for people who want to break free from the distractions in their lives and learn to view their world a little differently – ultimately leading to more great moments.
I promise you these small changes to your daily routine will make a huge impact in distressing your life and refocusing on what is happening right now, because right now is all we have. Just like Oprah said.
If you want to learn about the power of improv and how to more fully live in the moment, sign up for a class at Finest City Improv. We have several classes to choose from including full workshops and drop-in classes. Join us!