How do we enjoy everyday life?
How do we become more present in this life so we CAN enjoy it?
Being present is one of the reasons why I wanted to embrace minimalism, but it certainly hasn’t been easy for me.
I’m one of those people that likes to be busy, I like to be productive and I am very creative. (I think a lot of us that collect clutter are creative. There are so many things that we’re capable of doing and it’s fun.)
But I knew that I spent my time doing the things that I wanted to focus on instead of actually parenting my children, instead of being in the moment with my husband and I needed to change that.
That is not how I wanted to live my life or be remembered after I was gone.
So today I want to share with you a few things that I have had to do to teach myself to live in the moment and be present with my family.
Do you spend your time in your mind instead of in your body?
Too often we spend our lives wishing for something, hoping for something, instead of actually being, being present, being here, being in the moment, listening to the conversation.
When we’re like that, when we’re hoping for some future situation or we’re dwelling on the past, it’s as if we’re not really here in the present.
As if we’re hovering over the top of it, observing that these things are going on, but not being grounded in the moment.
1. Slow down
I have spent the majority of my life working hard and accomplishing things.
But at the end of the day, does it really make much difference all the things that we did?
No. The only things that really matter, the things that stick with us, the things that stick with our family members are the interactions we had with them.
So what does it matter if I organized something or cleaned something or created something if I didn’t sit down and look my child in the eyes when he is talking to me and hear him tell the story of his day?
That’s not an excuse to neglect chores
We need to be able to enjoy being in our house, so we can’t just say “I’m being present, so therefore I won’t do household tasks.
That’s why we’re embracing minimalism, right? To get rid of the clutter and be able to maintain a clean home without stressing about it all the time. To have a home that assists us in living the way we believe we should live, to not be enslaved by our home and our stuff.
It’s ok to not be 100% productive
We put too much emphasis on being productive.
Yes, we need to take care of our home and do the things that we need to do. We don’t want to neglect ourselves or our home or our children, but that doesn’t mean we need to go over the top in accomplishing everything.
We can slow down to a point that we can enjoy those daily tasks, where we’re not just doing the dishes so we can move on to the next task, we can simply enjoy doing the dishes.
Is that possible? Yes, it’s possible!
I’m not going to guarantee that every single person is going to enjoy doing the dishes. I hated doing the dishes. When I started, the dishes and the laundry were the two worst things I could ever do. I loathed them.
But these days, there is a bit of joy in doing the dishes, in finding that satisfaction of now the kitchen’s clean.
And that’s enough.
Getting that done has made me feel as productive as I need to feel.
I don’t need to go sew a quilt, start my self-sustaining homestead or alphabetize the pantry.
I can be content with doing the dishes and then simply living my life. (Going to work or spending time with my family.)
Say “goodbye” to those societal (or self-imposed) expectations
I am no longer expecting myself to do a hundred different things during the day.
I’m expecting myself to do five things during the day. Which often end up being
- Do dishes
- Clear counters
- Feed children
- Pay attention to people
If I get antsy thinking I just haven’t done enough, like I’m not worth my weight, then I can remind myself, “No, I did what was necessary and I did the important things.”
The important things are spending time with my kids, talking with my kids, listening to them about their day, building that relationship, teaching them the things that I want them to know before they move out of the house because it goes really fast.
2. Pay attention
My mind is going all the time. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. If my mind was an internet browser, I would probably have 150 tabs open and I’m not focusing on anyone in particular. Its thoughts, feelings, plans, and expectations all going on in the background.
In order to pay attention, I have to force myself to mentally pause when am I involved with something (like Paul creating his Halloween costume this week) and think about it and realize this is nice.
It’s nice to sit down next to Paul while he paints his Halloween costume and just watch him do it, watch him use the brush, teach him how to not ruin the bristles.
It’s a pleasant thing.
When I was in the very productive mode, I would set the kids up, get them going and I would leave to go accomplish something “important.”
I wouldn’t pause to just sit there and be with them.
It helps so much to journal in the evening, to just sit down, take a few minutes and note what was nice during the day… what did I enjoy? What was I grateful for? What part of the day felt lovely? Or made me laugh? Or even was difficult? Because that’s part of life.
When we take time to pay attention to things that happen, it doesn’t feel like the day flies by so fast.
Time feels like it flies by because it all blends together and we don’t take note to remember the stories that happen every day.
If you train yourself to pay attention to these daily things, when you’re at the end of the year, you remember more. It doesn’t feel as much of a blur.
Last weekend, we were able to go to the pumpkin patch and then carved pumpkins with the family and end the evening with a nice bowl of Zuppa Toscana and homemade Focaccia, which was so enjoyable.
It made me realize that I am not very good at this whole vlogging thing because I learned to actually be present, in the moment.
Years ago, I was into scrapbooking, and everywhere we went, I made sure and take a variety of pictures so that I have a nice spread. I had to make sure I had enough pictures to do at least a one-page spread in the scrapbook!
I would make sure that I had enough pictures to do that and document how well our life was going, but I didn’t actually spend time appreciating it at the moment.
It was as if I needed to take these pictures so when we look back, we’ll think we had a great life, or it was trying to prove to myself that, yeah, life is really good, but I wasn’t actually enjoying the life.
(As I’m editing this, I realize that in the 1990s, scrapbooking was basically Instagram.)
Slow down, pay attention, appreciate and reflect
Now I don’t think about pulling out my camera. In fact, I just got one picture of us at the pumpkin patch. I didn’t take any other pictures of the kids looking for pumpkins or playing on the zip line, or the little obstacle course that they had set up.
None of that.
I just enjoyed being there.
By the time we got home and we were carving pumpkins, I did remember the camera so I got some footage of that. But taking pictures of our life and the moments that we have is no longer at the forefront of my mind.
Instead, I’ve learned to simply be present and enjoy it.
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ~ Thorin, J. R. R. Tolkien
If you would like help learning to be more present in your life, I created the 21 days of Intention Course. 21 simple exercises, some of them are journaling, some of them are active exercises like taking a walk or sitting outside and being still, but it will help get you started on this path to slowing down and learning to be in the present. Click here to learn more.
If you want more information on how I learned to love housework, read this blog post here.