142: 12 Simple Ways to Be Present

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This episode is a requested reading of a previous post on Productive Flourishing named “12 Simple Ways to Be Present.” This post shares twelve simple ways to be more present in your day-to-day life, and to take a pause when life wants to push you headlong.

Key Takeaways: [0:53] - Learning to be present helps us refrain from thinking about what we could’ve or should’ve done, and worrying about the uncertainties of the future. Charlie explores twelve ways to be present, ordered from things that you can do pretty easily, to items further down the list that take a little more effort.

[1:55] - Look for ways that you can stack these tips to get the most out of your time being present.

[2:16] - 1. Drink water: Drinking water works because it makes sure your emotional state is not a reflection of your being dehydrated, it makes you slow down and breathe, and it gets you to take a break from your external situation.

[3:15] - 2. Breathe deeply: Charlie shares a breathing technique called “combat breathing” that has you breathe in while counting to zero, hold for four counts, and breathe out for four counts. He gives suggestions on how you can incorporate this into your daily life.

[4:06] - 3. Wiggle your toes: Charlie shares some different ways to move your toes that can help you remain present. Find whatever feels right for you while actively moving your toes. Toe wiggling also reminds Charlie of the love, presence, support, gratitude, and forgiveness available to him when he’s present.

[5:38] - 4. Stretch: A stiff, constricted body leads to anxiety - we can use our bodies to create moods. Stretching can help break a cycle of tension and anxiety, as well as incorporate breathing deeply.

[6:35] - 5. Take a meditation moment: Despite common belief, meditation does not have to require a lot of time to do, and doesn’t necessarily have to be done a certain way. Charlie suggests using Insight Timer and Gateway to Presence as a start to incorporate meditation into your daily life.

[7:42] - 6. Take a jam break: Be intentional about taking jam breaks. In your work environment, look for safe spots for a jam party; the important thing is that it’s music that you really feel.

[8:58] - 7. Step away from all electronics, including your phone: Going beyond notifications, when we hold our phones we are prone to start doing what this tool helps us to do - checking an email or sending a text. To be present, step away from all electronics so you’re not priming your mind and body to do all the activities that are probably preventing you from being present anyway.

[10:32] - 8. Shut off all but critical notifications from your devices: Think about the importance of what notifications mean - is knowing someone liked a post really nourishing? Getting notifications that don’t really matter can pull us out of being present and we may miss out on something even more important.

[11:37] - 9. Get some nature therapy: Nature can serve as a vehicle to improve cognitive functioning. The stimuli that exist in nature focus our attention in ways that relieve stress, versus the type in urban environments that tend to induce stress.

[12:40] - 10. Play with kids and pets: Playing with kids and pets fire up our oxytocin factories. Oxytocin is a key hormone that promotes trust, relaxation, and happiness in humans. Oxytocins can cause us to pay closer attention to socially relevant stimuli.

[14:00] - 11. Declutter your space: Clutter forces our brains to chunk cluttered areas into one unified mess, and reminds us of unfinished business. It’s hard to be present in a cluttered space, if we’re always thinking about the clutter and what needs to be done with it.

[15:03] - 12. Ask what really matters now: Even our to-do lists can be cluttered. A clean list that’s focused only on what really matters to the person right then is very beneficial. Charlie shares a procedure for how you can work to create a clean to-do list that is focused on what really needs to be accomplished now.

[17:22] - All of the tips are right for you! You can’t go wrong with any of them, and some may be simple enough to accomplish right now.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Creative Giant Campfire Facebook Group

12 Simple Ways to be Present, Blog Post, on Productive Flourishing

21 Ways to Quickly Short-Circuit a Funk, on Productive Flourishing

The Creative Giant Show Episode 54: Demystifying Meditation with Susan Piver

Gateway to Presence Guided Meditation, by Tara Brach

Open Heart Project

Environmental Preference and Restoration, by Koole, S. L., van der Wulp, N. Y. & van den Berg, A. E.

Oxytocin-gaze Positive Loop, and the Coevolution of Human-Dog Bonds, by Nagasawa, M. et al.

The Simple Guide to a Clutter-Free Home, by Joshua Becker

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