Staying In The Present Moment Increases Happiness

One morning this past winter I had to leave my house early to get to a meeting.  I pressed the button to open the garage door and watched it go up slowly.  I put my materials for the meeting on the back seat and hopped into the car.  With the car in reverse I backed out of the garage.

I was going to make a short presentation at the meeting so as I was backing out I was thinking about the points I needed to make.  Driving toward the meeting I was lost in thought when suddenly I realized I didn’t remember if I had closed the garage door.  If the door was open the house was completely open-not something I wanted to do.

Has that ever happened to you?  You do something so automatically that you don’t remember doing it?

In businesses I always extoll the virtues of having systems to support the business owner.  But here is a case where my system may not have supported me or did it?

In fact that day I drove back to the house to see if the garage door was still open and it was not.  This is not the first time I’ve done that.  So far I’ve never left the garage door open.

Systems To Support You

Having a system in place is really important.  I have one for getting the car out of the garage and closing the door.  You probably have them too at work and at home.  They are wonderful in supporting you so you don’t forget to do the important things you want to do each day.

After creating and implementing the system it becomes a habit.  It’s a good thing until it becomes so automatic you don’t think about it anymore.  Then it can be a problem.

This month I read a book by the former attorney and now writer, Gretchen Rubin, entitled The Happiness Project.  Gretchen does a great job of trying to understand what makes her happy. During the year of the project she looked at a different aspects of her life that contributed to her happiness.

Mindfulness Means Staying in the Moment

The October chapter was entitled Pay Attention.   In the chapter she talks about mindfulness (paying attention by staying in the present moment) and how it increased her happiness.

In this chapter she says about her tendency to multitask, “I often run on automatic pilot – arriving home with no recollection of having gone from point A to point B.”  Yikes! That describes my garage door situation.

If you tend to multitask and run on automatic pilot too, what can you do about it?  First you need to be aware that you do it.  Second you have to want to do something about it.  I know I want to become aware of the garage door closing so I don’t have to waste time and angst thinking about it.

Next think of a way to remember to pay attention and stay in the present moment.  I’m working on this.  When I get into my car I need a reminder to stay in the present moment.  Gretchen uses reminder notes and resolution charts to help her.  I’m going to use post it notes on the dash board.

What systems do you use at home or at work that are on automatic pilot?  If you paid attention to them what would happen?  Mindfulness improves the quality of your life by increasing your awareness of what you are doing in the present moment so you can enjoy and appreciate it fully.

Check out Gretchen Rubin’s website.


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