Have you ever had the experience when you’re at a party and you’re hanging with friends and you’re laughing and totally carefree? For that one moment, time stands still and all the worries of the world are gone. You’re not thinking about work or your relationship or next month’s rent payment. You’re not looking at your watch thinking about what time you’re going to leave. You’re not thinking about ‘the next thing you’re going to say to liven up the conversation’. No, you are totally present to the experience. You are 100% ‘in the moment’!
Alas, before you know it, you look at your watch. You notice someone else in the room and you start thinking about other things. You start thinking about what you have to do at work next week. The people you are with are still speaking but now you are no longer listening. The moment is gone. How can we learn to stay in the moment?
Those moments happen to us from time-to-time. They only last a few seconds or minutes at most. Why is it that we as human beings are so consumed with what will happen next? versus what is happening now? Being in the moment seems to happen mostly when we let our guard down. Before long our thought patterns and habits take over, our guard goes back up and we are no longer in the moment.
I believe one of the reasons so many people connected with the movie Forrest Gump was because of Forrest’s enviable ability to live so much of his life in the moment. And since it’s so difficult for us to ‘stay in the moment’ we instinctively gravitated towards and admired Forrest’s ability to stay in the moment. We would all like to be a little more like Forrest in that regard. Wouldn’t it be great if we all could be Gump-like?
Here are a few examples of Forrest Gump being completely in the moment:
- While in the Army’s basic training program, Forrest was asked to disassemble and re-assemble his rifle. He put it together in record time to the shouting accolades of his drill sergeant. All the while, Bubba is in the background speaking of shrimp. Forrest had total concentration on the task at hand and Bubba was a million miles away. Forrest was in the moment.
- While Forrest sat on the park bench telling his story, he was so totally focused on the details that his being in the moment became infectious. Do you remember the older woman who was waiting for the #7 bus? When the #7 arrives, Forrest mentions that her bus is here. She tells him, “There will be another along shortly.” and chooses to wait and hear more of his narrative. Both she and Forrest were totally in the moment.
- After Jenny returns home to Greenbow, AL after years of wild partying in CA and other far-away places, she and Forrest are walking along the back roads of the rural South. They come to Jenny’s old dilapidated home and it sends her into a violent fury, throwing rocks as hard as she can at the old homestead and even breaking windows. Jenny collapses in emotional tears. All the while, Forrest was patiently watching and allowing Jenny to exorcise her past demons. Forrest then tenderly sits next to Jenny to offer comfort and narrates from the background, “Sometimes, I guess there just aren’t enough rocks.” Forrest offered no judgment or false comfort – he simply was in the moment with Jenny during her time of emotional need.
How can we learn to stay in the moment? Well if I had a simple answer for this, then I’d be a gazillionaire just like Forrest Gump. Staying in the moment is a difficult suspension of mood, action and thought that seems to just happen from time to time when we let our guard down. So while I have no magic solution to this dilemma, here are a few simple suggestions:
- Acknowledge first and foremost that being in the moment does occur, and it is most often a peaceful, enjoyable, stress-free place to be, thus a state we should want to experience more often.
- Learn to recognize when those moments happen in your own life.
- Notice what circumstances were present when those moments were happening. Were you with friends? Where were you? Notice your mood before and after the moment. Were you thinking and planning … Or just doing?
- Try being present to each and every person or task with which you are involved during your day. Focus and concentrate on the moment at hand.
Are these the definitive answers to living stress-free? Likely not, but perhaps you are like me and want to understand more about learning to live a more fulfilled life full of ‘in the moment’ experiences? I suspect I’ll continue to read and write more about this rich topic in the future. There are many good thinkers out there blogging on similar topics; I enjoyed this one at “OnSimplicity”.
In the meantime, I encourage you to at least raise your awareness to these moments, and savor them when they occur. Consider allowing Forrest’s example to inspire more Gump-like experiences in your own life!
Next Blog Title: Are you Resistant or Open?
Next Blog Date: Monday, March 15, 2010