Stop Being Busy and Start Being Present

Jake Wells by Nursultan Rakysh on Unsplash

You’re busy.

Not just a little busy, you’re a lot busy. Your to-do list keeps growing. People keep asking you to do more and more.

Be more productive. Be more active. Finish more tasks. Set more goals.

I get it. I really do.

Recently, I was out running errands around town:

✔️ Buy two t-shirts for a school craft.

✔️ Drop off clothes to donate.

✔️ Get gas in the car.

✔️ Get a haircut.

✔️ Go to the library and pick up a book on reserve.

When I got home, I realized I needed to mow the grass as well. My thoughts shifted, and I suddenly wanted to go take a nap instead. I looked outside at the yard and sighed out loud. The yard really needed to be cut; napping was not a possibility.

Before I went outside to cut the grass, I sat down at the kitchen table where I drink coffee in the morning. I decided to write for just a few minutes. I looked out the window next to my dining room table and savored the moment.

One Simple Yet Powerful Concept

A few minutes later, I looked down at my yellow legal pad and three words stood out at me in black ink: be more present. by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

That was it. Over the last six months, I’ve adopted the practice of being brutally honest with myself on paper by doing Morning Pages (an exercise from Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way). This one super short sentence made me pause and take another deep breath. In all of the hustle and bustle of the day, I’d been trying to hit the fast-forward button and rush to the next thing.

Be more present.

Three words. One simple concept.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

In order to be more present, I had to slow down for a moment. I focused on my breath, and then soon my thoughts shifted to my attitude.

I can choose to be frustrated that I have to go cut the grass, or I can say to myself that I get to cut the grass. by Ben White on Unsplash

One Word Can Make All The Difference

The difference between have to and get to is only one word. But this one word has the power to change your attitude as well as the story you tell yourself.

Have to takes away power and is a forced decision.

Get to instills a sense of gratitude into the activity.

Have to feels like a chore.

Get to makes you look for the good in the situation.

Have to is negative in tone.

Get to leads to a positive mindset. by Sam Manns on Unsplash

Why Attitude Matters

You’ve likely heard the saying that “attitude is everything.” While attitude is not necessarily everything, it definitely plays an important role in how you view things. How you process things. You can choose to savor moments and look for moments, or you can choose to rush from one activity to another.

Pushing the pause button — just for a brief period of time — can make all the difference. You always have the choice to choose your attitude.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” — Viktor E. Frankl

You decide how you respond to any given situation. If you choose a positive attitude — the intentional choice to be present and aware — you will find yourself searching for moments to enjoy as you go throughout your day. This is why a tool like a gratitude journal can have a profound impact in your life.

What about those times when life just throws you one curveball after another? The car gets a flat tire, one of your kids has a cold and you’re sure you’re getting it too, it’s raining outside, and your pantry is bare so you need to go to the store.

It’s harder to have an attitude of “be more present” during those times for sure. In reality, you feel like you’re just in survival mode. The only goal is getting the kids to bed. But here’s the good news: you still have a choice, even then. You decide — always. Having a negative attitude is a choice, just like having a positive attitude.

The more you practice being present, the easier it becomes. Before you know it, savoring moments will be second nature. Make the choice right now, starting today. Choose to say “get to” instead of “have to.” Choose to be more present today and every day.

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