Wellness Wednesday: The Ripple Effect of Living in the Moment
By Rebekah Elkerton
Every day we have infinite opportunities to change our lives and the lives of those around us. Whether it's connecting with others or getting a better sense of ourselves, each moment we’re awake we can choose to be present. Being present means making the most of the current moment and the gifts available to us. More often than not, it feels easier to avoid connection and choose distraction instead. We’re comfortable in the familiar cycle of thoughts we move through regularly so we disconnect to quiet anything that disrupts our patterns, whether they truly feel good or not. Choosing to be present breaks us free from old narratives that isolate us from others and prevent us from loving our lives.
At one point or another we’ve all been sick, possibly bed ridden with a stomach flu, a bad cold or something more serious. In times of sickness, we dream of being healthy again and having full use of our senses and our bodies. Yet once recovered we often forget those periods of wanting and fail to fully enjoy our moments of health, falling back into old habits of self-distraction.
Every moment of the day we have a choice to be in touch with our senses, our bodies, and our feelings. We can choose self-awareness through quickly checking in on what we feel about the current moment. We also have the opportunity to look outside of ourselves and connect with the world around us. Perhaps that means going outside and taking a deep breath of fresh air or answering a phone call we might otherwise ignore.
Author and Motivational Speaker Mel Robbins says that often the difference between a good day and a bad day is just being acknowledged by someone. She further says that the best person to do this acknowledgment is ourselves. We have the power to change our lives every day by fully acknowledging our experiences. We also have the power to change other people’s lives by creating moments of connection whether big or small. However, it feels safer to avoid eye-contact, watch netflix alone in our homes, and find other subtle ways to shut the world out. We latch onto any distraction available to avoid the feelings of vulnerability that come with processing our emotions or putting ourselves out there to connect with others.
The past is my greatest distraction. I replay old ‘failures,” thinking about things I could have said or done. I think about moments where I didn’t feel seen by the people I have loved and I exhaust these stories until even I’m tired of them. There are likely countless moments of connection that I've missed while thinking about my “coulda, woulda, shouldas.” For other people it’s the future that keeps them elsewhere, working diligently toward a goal and rarely stopping to enjoy the now. Meanwhile, they may be in the exact place that their past self dreamt of. In either case, we fail to live with gratitude for the moment we’re experiencing currently. In the same way we slip back into old habits after recovering from poor health, we lose sight of how far we’ve come.
Photo by: Andrew George
When we aren’t caught in the loop of where we have been or should be, we are letting other people’s stories take our energy. We slip into bingeing online content, falling in love with the curated lives we see on social media. We attach ourselves to an idea of perfection that doesn’t exist. This idea of perfection holds us back from feeling good enough to be seen by ourselves and others. We might fear connection out of worry that we aren't going to do or say the exact right thing all the time, or look like some unrealistic version of beauty we see elsewhere. However, presence does not need to be perfect. The power of being present lies in authenticity. When we aim for true self-awareness or genuine moments of connection with another person we can create real and lasting positive change.
To live in the present is a skill to be developed over time. It begins with asking ourselves: “ Am I consciously choosing to be present at this moment?” and if not “what am I avoiding?” From there we must find personal practices that draw us back to the moment so we can hear ourselves, process our feelings and unpack them. Through these practices we can begin to let go of the past or the idealized versions of life we are attached to. We can find gratitude for where we’re at and the blessings of each moment. We can release ourselves from the stories that do more harm than good.
Creating moments of connection with ourselves and others is necessary for meeting our emotional needs. Choosing to be present rather than fall into distraction is a form of self-love, and a commitment to a better life. It’s a way of taking our energy back from the irrelevant things we give it to. When we take back our stories and choose to love ourselves we are choosing to live in a good way. To live in a good way is to find balance between the four elements of our health- mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. It is to reclaim relationships with the world around us, including the environment and that which we cannot see. To live in a good way we must intentionally be present with ourselves and in our relationships. When we practice this form of self-love we begin to share a better version of ourselves with the world and consequently there is a ripple effect in the collective as the people around us become part of the energy of love we emit.
In the simplest terms- we must pay attention. When we pay attention to our feelings regularly, we can begin to find the connections between what makes us tick and what brings us peace, rather than what’s just there as part of a routine. We can learn more about ourselves and ultimately aim to unlearn the habits that aren’t bringing anything good toward us. When we unlearn and heal we become emotionally lighter and our energy shifts. Our light is then felt by everyone we meet, rippling out into the world with endless possibilities for growth. Healing and self-love are expansive but must begin with a centered sense of self. Through choosing to be present we drop the autopilot mode and show up for life differently. We have the opportunity to heal and create positive change in the world with every moment.