“30 Days to a More Optimistic You” Positivity Challenge – Day 11. To Be Positive and Present, Take Your Cue from a Child
If you want to attract positive people and experiences into your daily life, you must focus on being present and in the moment.
This is not easy for adults. Adults, women in particular, seem to be stuck in an endless planning and execution mode. This means we’re constantly thinking about what we did, and what we still have to do.
We have checklists to fulfill. That’s forward-thinking, or looking into the future. We also have comparisons to make and experiences to draw from. “When I did X, Y happened. So if I want Y to happen again, I’d better do X.”
As you can see, we’ve trained our minds to be constantly shifting back and forth from the past to the future and back again. Technology heightens this state of mind even more intensely. We have tons of pictures to constantly look at on our social media accounts – to see what we did, and to also see what other people did, which gets us thinking about what else we want to do.
And we have messages coming in from people we know, and also people whom we have no idea who they are (think marketing emails), giving us ideas about what we should be doing and plans that we should be making. And for some odd reason, we often take the advice!
This type of thinking adds a lot of stress to our lives. It makes us anxious to move onto the next thing. Or, when we need a break from whatever we’re doing, maybe we go backward into a reflection of the past, which can also bring us anxiety if the experience was unpleasant, or if it puts us into a cycle of “Oh, I shouldn’t be thinking about this enjoyable experience that I had, because now I’ve fallen behind with what I was supposed to be accomplishing.”
Retrain Your Brain to Think Like a Child
Kids don’t seem to have a sense of time, and as adults this bothers us. It seems like we always have to hurry them along to the next thing on our list.
But do you know what? This mental talent of being able to stay in the present moment, is what makes a child’s mind so free and full of joy.
If we could return to the way our brains perceived the world when we were young and innocent… we could create a profound connection with our own children.
So, can we do this? It would take a lot of concerted effort. But imagine what joys we might come to know if we were able to focus our entire being and all of our sensory faculties, on just ONE experience.
How long could we extend the moment if we did that for?
What types of observations might we make if we could linger in the deliciousness of the present moment?
- Would we laugh more? Think more? Worry less? Breathe more deeply?
- Would our minds open up to different ways of thinking?
- Would our children take us on a wild journey of imagination?
- Would we see things in a more clear and honest way, without criticism or judgment?
- Would we be able to see into people’s souls just by looking at them?
- Would we have more appreciation for the simple pleasures of this world?
Exercise 11: Journey inside the mind of a young child
Here’s a great bonding activity to share with your child, or children if you have more than one.
Pick an activity. It should be something simple, like coloring together, catching a fish, making a craft, playing ball, or just rolling around on the rug with the family dog.
Power off all electronics. Turn off the phone.
Focus fully on the activity for a full hour of your day. Do not become distracted and wander off to attend to other things.
This is your time to be with your child or children. Give them your full attention.
Watch their faces as they engage in play or creation.
Ask them questions. (Don’t force questions. If you don’t have anything to ask, that’s fine. You can’t force presence of mind. You have to just simply BE there, in the moment.)
After your hour of quality time with your children is finished, let the experience set in for a bit. Go about the remainder of your day. Attend to whatever needs tending.
When you catch another free hour, write about the good time you had with your kids today.
Describe what you did. Capture full sensory experience. Remark on how your children looked during the activity. What did they say?
To more special moments