9 Now Nailers: 9 Ways to Embrace the Present and Remain in the Now
Are you constantly allowing your chaotic, unrealistic thoughts, fears, and insecurities to control you and stir the "what if" worries and woes about what might happen tomorrow, 5 days from now, or 5 years into the future? Are you continuously battling stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia over your past and re-trying to find a remote control to rewind your choices, pause your words, delete your associations, and erase any past actions or blunders? While today's title might initially look like we're discussing new manicure trends or some innovative Bob the Builder construction tools, but we're actually presenting how to "nail" as in master ways to remain in the now. We'll first discuss why failure to embrace the present can be detrimental to your overall health, happiness, and holistic wellness. Lastly, we'll summarize the "9 Now Nailers" tools to build a solid foundation for your life. Ready for an Extreme Makeover?
"House of the Rising Sun: Why Embracing and Remaining in the Present/Now Matters"
Just as powerful as the Animals' classic song, I compare being present to a house that's "rising" against a burning sun and ready to ignite if we don't embrace and live fully in the now. Envision our physical, socioemotional, psychological, economic, and spiritual health in terms of rooms within a home. Whether we're living large metaphorically in a penthouse, mansion, or yacht, or "living la liva loca" in an apartment, duplex, dorm, tent, or another humble abode, our overall health is like a house, as we must all proactively live in, care for, explore, decorate, and open all the rooms each day to achieve harmony and balance. For example, if you work from home daily and feeling isolated as a virtual/remote worker, work from home parent, or small business owner, perhaps you're exhausted, lacking ample social interactions, and the inability to live fully in the socioemotional room that keeps you feeling isolated and disconnected. Sound familiar? As a freelancer, I can attest to those feelings, especially during our long winters. Well, grab a broom and sweep those rooms since mindfulness "improves concentration, inspires creativity and energizes our interactions with others" (Gonzales, 2018, p. 56), just to name a few.
Ready to swerve your house and mindful mindset away from the sun and more centered toward peace and productivity into the cool zone? Don't be like the mythological character of Icarus, okay? Mindfulness commonly relates back to the notion of being in the now and our ability to be keenly aware of where we are and what we're doing. Passmore & Amit (2017) praise it for allowing us "to be curious again, to bring conscious intent into our lives, to be wiser and more compassionate, and to make new choices in the moment rather than repeat our same mistakes" in their book, Mindfulness at Work: The Practice and Science of Mindfulness for Leaders, Coaches, and Facilitators.
In our present era, regardless of our jobs, ages, and lifestyles, we tend to live as an autopilot octopus with tentacles manically multitasking the constant seas of change and cycles of do more, be more, and see more. However, we end up merely achieving a more "mind full" than a "mindful" existence. Without mindfulness, when we cannot totally focus our intentions and concentration wholly on one task, purpose, person, role, or sensation at a time. In essence, we need the now to keep our holistic house clean, secure, healthy, happy, and inviting for ourselves and others. Think of mindfulness like a welcome mat for yourself and your loved ones. Now wipe those muddy feet and read on with us.
"Feel Fine With the "9 Now Nailers"
Now that we've covered why it's essential to so many domains of your life and health to embrace the now, let's break down the "9 Now Nailers" tools to build a beautiful, buff, and bountiful holistic casa:
Walk This Way: Aerosmith's iconic jam may not have been originally intended to be a mindful mantra, but it reminds me to take gratitude walks to re-set, connect, and remain in the present. Thomason (2018) in "6 Tricks for People Who Can't Meditate" from Health also recommends walking meditations (or just movement in general) to keep us grounded in the now. Ready to hit the grass, floors, pavement, golf courses, courts, fields, trails, or carpets? Find your inner genie and magic carpet ride for some respite!
According to studies from Jacobs, Clemons, & Joy (2015), gratitude walks are often easier for most people than traditional sitting forms of meditation and also just as beneficial to focus our breathing quite a bit, keep our bodies balanced, and help to manage the worries of work/life balance (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4687666/). Skip the escalators and elevators since movement is such an important maneuver to keep us rooted in the here and now.
Morning Glory: Be a morning glory, but not in the floral department. We're talking about the importance of embedding a positive morning ritual into your daily habits. Why? This action sets your intentions for the day. Gregoire (2017) urges everyone to sit up in bed and focus on the rhythm of your breath for a minute or two to set the tone of a mindful day before doing anything else. As a night owl for 40 +years, this one is extremely tough for me, so I prefer to tweak it a bit and start mine with a mug of green tea and some solo reading of daily affirmations. Find glory in your own morning glory routines!
Digital Delays: As mentioned above, your morning is a template for how your day will probably progress. With mindfulness in mind, delay shoving your mind, body, and soul full of personal drama, work stress, and annoying junk mail. As Hougaard, Carter, & Dybkjaer (2017) from the Harvard Business Review Digital Articles strongly advise, take a digital delay when starting your day, mainly by avoiding checking or composing any email or texts first thing in the morning because "Making email your first task of the day wastes the opportunity to use your mind at its highest potential. Try waiting at least 30 minutes, or even an hour, after you get to work before checking your inbox" (https://hbr.org/2017/01/spending-10-minutes-a-day-on-mindfulness-subtly-changes-the-way-you-react-to-everything). We can also apply that tip to phone calls, texts, social media, etc.
Knight/Night Rider Reflections: Forget trying to copy the Hoff in his younger days, but engage in knight/night rider reflections to end your day with a sense of "in the now." Simply recall something or someone who positively impacted your life today and why you're grateful for this person, encounter, lesson, or event. Whether you do this tool via meditation, prayer, or writing in a journal, be a knight/night rider!
Trading Places: No, we're not summoning the throwback 80s comedy with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. Instead, take a cue from the ancient philosophers. When we begin to feel panicked, paranoia, pissed off, or impatient, put yourself in someone else's shoes. Barker (2017) advocates: "What would I recommend if this happened to someone else?" And then do that" (http://time.com/collection/guide-to-happiness/4832915/happiness-rituals-stoicism/). This strategy of trading places helps to bring you back logically and into the present. Ultimately, it enables us to think and act much more rationally. Although I wish I could trade places with Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel, or Penelope Cruz, Drew Barrymore, Kerry Washington, or another celeb for a day, I'll settle for this nifty now tactic!
Mindful Meals: Selena Gomez's "Slow Down" song compels us to literally slow down the pace during mealtimes. Rather than inhale an entire bag of chips, a large order of fries, and a shake while we wait in traffic, "being in the now" during mindful eating can balance our overall sense of presence and health. Sip that cup of chai mindfully!
Likewise, Byrne (2019) also contends how we should listen to our hunger and focus on satisfaction (p. 40). When I lived in Japan and visited France, I noticed how mealtimes in both cultures were sacred, calming, and all about being together, being present, having pretty plates, attractive bento boxes, and portion control. Get a blast of Mt. Fuji or the Eiffel Tower and make your mealtimes more mindful. Put down the phone, step away from the computer, pick up chopsticks, light a candle, and slow your roll as you eat that or sushi roll!
Colors of the Wind: You don't have to be Andy Warhol or Georgia O'Keefe to pace yourself steadily in the present with color. Choose adult coloring books, DIY arts and crafts, scrapbooking, flying a kite, making a model car, Zentangle, or other hands-on activities. In one study from the Creativity Research Journal, coloring participants showed significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms and anxiety after the intervention and may provide an effective, inexpensive, and highly accessible self-help tool relaxation and mindfulness (Flett, Lie, Riordan, Thompson, Conner, & Hayne (2017, p. 409). If you're a parent, grandparent, teacher, or relative of a kid, tween, or tween, this healthy habit is something to nurture to counterbalance our kids' digital dilemmas and diets. What are zentangles? They're images created using freehand patterns (COHEN, 2018). Relax with real-world sensory activation and let your inner Monet free!
It’s the Climb! Take heed of Miley’s musical advice and celebrate your own progress in the moment to better maintain a “now” outlook. One easy way to avoid ruminating in what I think of as a “remote control mentality,” trying to frantically fast forward our lives ahead and/or trying to radically rewind our lives to the past, can totally be proactively averted if we try instead to emphasize progress over products (or outcomes). Research from Phillips (2019) finds that when we break down tasks or activities into smaller, step-by-step pieces, we can yield improved positive reinforcement, greater flexibility, more mindfulness, and a clearer focus on what has been accomplished, rather than on the ultimate outcome (https://ct.counseling.org/2019/02/the-messy-reality-of-perfectionism/). Remember it’s all about the climb!
Mind Your Manners: In a world bombarded with bullies online and in real time, it's beneficial to maintain mindfulness, remain in the present, and exercise civility by minding our manners. Coleman (2019) talks about how being mindful at work means being keenly aware of the needs and demands of our customers, colleagues, employers, stakeholders, etc. I'd extend this mindset to everyone that we encounter each day from the custodian, waitress and waiters, bus drivers, crossing guards, nurses, police officers, teachers, and everyone in between. By simply complimenting people, opening doors, and smiling more, we all remain nice in the now!
Barker, E. (2017). Ancient Philosophers Reveal 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happier. Time.Com. Retrieved from http://time.com/collection/guide-to-happiness/4832915/happiness-rituals-stoicism/
BYRNE, C. (2019). EAT Like You LIKE IT. Glamour, 117(1), 40.
COHEN, P. D. (2018). Pattern Perfect: Teach kids to find patterns everywhere they look, from numbers to words to images. Scholastic Teacher, 127(4), 58–59.
Coleman, D. (2019). In the Moment: How to make your business more mindful. Skin Deep, 18(2), 39.
Flett, J. A. M., Lie, C., Riordan, B. C., Thompson, L. M., Conner, T. S., & Hayne, H. (2017). Sharpen Your Pencils: Preliminary Evidence that Adult Coloring Reduces Depressive Symptoms and Anxiety. Creativity Research Journal, 29(4), 409–416.
Gonzales, L. (2018). Becoming a more mindful leader. District Administration, 54(2), 56.
Gregoire, C. (2017). Your Mindful Day. (cover story). Prevention, 69(9), 80–85.
Hougaard, R., Carter, J., & Dybkjaer, G. (2017). Spending 10 Minutes a Day on Mindfulness Subtly Changes the Way You React to Everything. Harvard Business Review Digital Articles, 2. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2017/01/spending-10-minutes-a-day-on-mindfulness-subtly-changes-the-way-you-react-to-everything
Jacobs, C., Clemons, M., & Joy, A. A. (2015). Oncologist heal thyself: hallmarks of happiness. Current Oncology, 22(6), e415–e418. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4687666/
Passmore, J., & Amit, S. (2017). Mindfulness at Work: The Practice and Science of Mindfulness for Leaders, Coaches and Facilitators. New York: Nova.
Thomason, K. (2018). 6 Tricks for People Who Can't Meditate. Health, 32(5), 63–66.