How to squeeze the most out of every day

I watch children because I am a mom. They do one thing at a time, whole-heartedly concentrating and finding bits of joy as they go along. Their inner monologues aren't well developed yet because they are in such a stage of discovery. They finger things carefully, inspect what makes it work, listen to the sounds it makes, feel the textures under their hands.
Pausing to listen to an airplane in the sky, stooping to watch a ladybug on a plant, sitting on a rock to watch the waves crash over the quayside - children have their own agendas and timescales.  As they find out more about their world and their place in it, they work hard not to let adults hurry them.  We need to hear their voices.  ~Cathy Nutbrown
Children are the picture of being present in the moment, and their parents are usually the antithesis. We boast about our ability to multitask but are swarmed with regret for all the moments we did not savor when we lie down in bed at the end of the day. Yet we wake the next morning and repeat the cycle. Is it because we have so much to accomplish in each day? Is it possible to load the dishwasher, cook dinner, clean the counters, mop the kitchen floor, AND attend to the inevitable 20 questions our children will come to us with?

Being mindful - present in the moment - is the art of paying attention fully to one thing at a time. It's difficult when you first start, but it is addictive because it allows us to be free from responsibility for little moments throughout the day, sharing in wonder and joy instead of the anxiety of deadlines and schedules.

When you're in the pre-dinner rush, doing 3 things at once, and you feel the tug of a little hand on your leg, STOP. Just for a moment. Crouch down, touch their shoulders, look into their eyes. Listen to the inflection of their high-pitched voice, notice their expressions. Answer their questions and smile. You may avoid 20 more questions by attending fully to that one. You have also recaptured your own joy - a type of joy cooking dinner does not usually bring.

The present moment is all we're guaranteed. The past is gone and the future uncertain. But in each moment lies the gifts of life, and if we'll only take time to stop and take the world in - it's smells, sounds, colors, sensations, tastes - how much more joy we will squeeze out of each and every day.

Five Minute Friday

Check out some free mindfulness exercises here.