On your journey to becoming a parent who glows, one of the important skills you’ll build learning how to become more engaged in the present moment.
This skill is an absolute life-changer, because the world is a busy, noisy place that distracts us from the things that are truly important to us. This leads to a feeling of lack – that there’s not enough time or energy or internal spark to have the things we want.
But that’s not true. You can recharge your emotional tanks, regain your focus and get more out of every hour and every day when you practice being present and engaged.
And the best part is, this is a really easy skill to master. I’ll tell you exactly how to do it right now.
How I define being present
Because “being present” and “engaged in the moment” are such buzzwords these days, the definition of what they mean can end up being pretty vague – as if everyone intuitively knows what it means and how to do it.
That’s not going to be helpful for you if you don’t have prior experience in being present and engaged. So I’ll give you my own personal definition of what to focus on – that way you can experience all the benefits of being present each day.
To be fully present and engaged in the moment, you’ll want to do 3 things:
- Notice the details of your present space – the sounds, the smells, the physical feel of things – so that everything gets enough attention to “pop” in your awareness
- Notice the emotions you’re feeling in that moment – the good ones, the bad ones, and all the in-between ones. Break away from your auto-pilot and raise your awareness of how you’re feeling.
- Find something to be grateful for in your present moment. If you’re in a good space, this will be easy. If your present moment isn’t so great, or it’s particularly challenging, then you’ll have to try a little harder, but the emotional payoff will be well worth it.
Basically, what you’re doing here is boosting your level of awareness about what’s going on, how you feel, and what’s good about this moment right now. You’re paying attention more and choosing the focus you want to have, and that’s a very active and empowering action to take.
(Pro tip: Empowerment makes you feel good. More frequent empowerment makes you feel even better.)
What happens when you’re fully engaged in the present moment
When you’re first starting out practicing being present and fully engaged, it can feel a bit awkward. We’re not used to paying that much attention to our surroundings – and ourselves – and it can feel like a rusty hinge that’s acting difficult and stuck.
But with just a little bit of practice – we’re talking half-a-dozen attempts, not 100 – you can start feeling the powerful benefits kicking in, and the awkwardness goes away. It starts becoming a little more second nature.
For me, when I break out of auto-pilot mode and decide to do those 3 steps – paying attention to what’s going on, how I feel, and what I can be grateful for in this moment – an amazing transformation kicks in.
I immediately feel relaxed, focused, and aware. My emotions are elevated and my senses are heightened. I feel waves of gratitude course through my body. I notice my breathing is slower. The millions of thought swimming in my head begin to fade away, and I feel clearer and more “myself”.
I’ll often use this practice to self-correct when I’m out of sorts or feeling blah. I call it “pivoting”. Once I notice I’m not feeling the way I want to, I use these steps to shift my focus, so I can start feeling contented, joyful, optimistic, confident… being present does a lot of positive things to your mood and mindset!
I’ll often adjust my body as I do this – unsleeping my shoulders, lifting my head, breathing in a more relaxed pattern, even looking more closely at everything around me so I can get out of my head. It quite literally is transformative, and changes the course of my day for the better. I’m more active, more fun to be around, and more productive.
When you start consciously making an effort towards how you want to feel, and what you want to accomplish, you just feel… glorious. Like you’re back in control of your life. And that’s worth everything.
It really comes down to love and respect – two things we all need more of.
Being present and engaged in the moment is an act of self-love and self-respect. You’re taking time to take care of you. You’re giving yourself space and attention and care, rather than jumping to the demands of the world around you.
We all need to take time for ourselves and do more of what nourishes us and honors our self and our soul. As parents, we pour so much of our resources – time, energy and money – into other people that it’s shockingly easy to be left with nothing for ourselves.
This is why it’s doubly important to do things that nurture yourself. Whether it’s being present in this moment, or writing in your journal, or taking time to practice gratitude, or treating yourself to “good things”, we have to invest in ourselves as consistently as we invest in the people we care about.
When you practice being engaged, when you’re fully present, you’re showing yourself love and respect unapologetically. And that makes you start to glow from within.
When you’re present and engaged, you not only feel better about yourself, but also experience the wonderful side effect of other people treating you better. (When we see other people respecting themselves, our respect for them goes up as well. The same will happen for you!)
Being present also leads to better, more compassionate parenting.
When you’re more present in your own life, you’ll experience much more self-love and self-respect – but the positive ripple effects won’t end there. It overflows into the ways you parent as well.
This happens for two reasons.
First, you’re paying more attention, so you’ll notice more details about what you’re doing, what’s happening around you, and what other people are feeling. You’ll actually get a boost in empathy because you’ll be more tuned-in to context and details, and you’ll understand how your children and partner are feeling and responding to you.
But secondly, when you’re paying attention and grounded in gratitude, you’re more proactive and compassionate. You want to do the best things possible for the people you care about. You’re so connected to the power of this moment that a loving, gentle, caring attitude comes out of you without you even trying.
I experienced this while working with both my children to train them for potty independence using the Go Diaper Free system. Being engaged and present made it easier to read their cues, be grateful for our shared successes, and work together on implementing elimination communication (EC).
I love how Andrea Olson (author of Go Diaper Free) says it:
“With EC, we tune into what our babies are born asking for, team up to help them use the toilet while they develop motor skills and long-term memory, and eventually teach them how to do it themselves. It’s a very natural transition to toilet independence.”
When we tune in, we can do a better job of “teaming up” with whoever we’re working with – our partner, our children, and even ourselves. (Yes, even YOU are a team. There’s the person you want to be in the future, and the person you are today, who is working hard to build that future you!)
Practice the 3 steps of being present today, and tell me how they worked for you!
As I said earlier, it doesn’t take much practice at all before you start feeling the very real, very positive benefits of being present and engaged kicking in. It will lift your mood, improve your outlook, and help you move closer to your dreams, all in one shot.
And all it takes is 3 steps:
- Notice the details of your present space
- Notice the emotions you’re feeling in that moment
- Find something to be grateful for in your present moment.
I invite you to try that right now – it only takes a minute or two to work through the steps.
And when you’re finished, I’d love to hear what positive effects it had for you in the comments below!