By Leo Babauta
Do you eat while reading? If so, you might have noticed the phenomenon I’ve noticed: sometimes you can eat an entire meal without even really tasting the food. This applies to a lot of things in our lives: we can spend an hour with our family without really talking to them. We can go to a park or the beach, and not really notice the things around us.
Here’s a tip that seems so simple, and yet can be difficult to maintain in practice: stop, and notice what you are doing in this moment. Become more aware of the present, instead of always thinking about the past and the future.
This is hard to do throughout the course of a day, but being perfect isn’t the point. Stop and do it once in awhile, at different times of the day, and just notice the little things. And enjoy them.
Try these little exercises (they’re very easy, so don’t be scared by the word “exercise”):
- When you eat your next meal, don’t read and don’t think about anything else except the food you’re eating. Really experience the smell of the food, the texture of the mixture of food in your mouth, the heat or coolness of it, the multiple flavors. This is best if you’re eating something you really enjoy (berries for me!).
- The next time you’re with someone, whether it’s a loved one or a co-worker, stop what you’re doing, clear everything aside, and take a few minutes to really talk to them. Really listen to what they’re saying. Really appreciate this person, and try to understand them. Really be with that person, fully.
- The next time you’re outside, stop, and look around. Appreciate the incredible beauty and simplicity and complexity of nature. Notice living things, from plants to birds to insects. Notice the elements – air and wind, water or rain, the earth, the sun or the moon or the stars. In fact, tonight, go outside and look up at the stars. The stars and the ocean always give me incredible perspective.
- When you shower next, try not to think about anything else but the shower itself. Think about the feeling of the water beating on your skin. Really enjoy the sensation. Feel the suds slipping down your body.
You can probably think of other things, but these are just a few ideas. And if you really experience these things, they can be incredible. And life won’t pass you by as quickly as it normally does, which can be a good thing.