These days, there are too many outside influences, creating a sense of negativity that make us feel as though we’re not doing enough, we’re not good enough, we will “never be so-and-so”, or insert your other limiting belief here. We spend hours, pouring over other people’s lives on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or even Pinterest, fantasizing over what it would be like to trade places with that person because they seem to have it better than we do. We then ruminate in negative thoughts that produce no value to us, other than causing us to feel as though we’re in a rut in life that we will never get out of. We then stop appreciating what we have in each and every moment of our lives and begin to let each and everyday die, without a single joyful memory.
I want you to take this in for one minute: EVERY SINGLE PERSON has at least one of these moments in life – that moment when they see the grass is greener somewhere else and covet whatever it is that isn’t on their side of the fence – it does not matter their financial or marital status, or even their looks!
Prior to ever meditating, I was a VERY stuck person. Think about a poor dinosaur, stuck in a tar pit. While a sad thought, that was totally me. While I always believed I was meant for greater things, I’d watch my friends, acquaintances, and even people I didn’t know, go on to do things in their lives that wowed and amazed me; creating a competitive streak in me that left me feeling sad, angry, and a bit jealous. I started to spend too much time thinking about the million and one ways I messed up my life, and it led to days of depression that kept me firmly out of the present, wasting away precious time.
It wasn’t until a dear friend of mine told me about these meditation challenges that I started to realize I was living my life all wrong; that I am richer beyond belief in what I already have; that I’ve accomplished more than I realize; and that I am incredibly thankful for what I’ve already been given. Through these challenges, I learned a much higher sense of self, what it means to remain present, and what it means to celebrate others’ lives without feeling jealous or depressed.
So what does any of this have to do with getting unstuck? Meditation, as a practice, is meant to bring you back to the present, which is how you get unstuck in the first place. The more you train your mind to be present, in and out of meditative practices, the easier it becomes to enjoy the simple, little, and often free things around you. While I know I’m at risk for sounding like a paid ad, it’s one of my passions in life that has brought me out of more negativity than one could imagine. If you’re unsure if it’s for you, here are some simple ways to remain present that have many positive effects:
- Remain present and engaged in an office meeting. I know… meetings upon meetings can drain someone of any and all energy left in them. I used to sit in them, totally zoning out, watching the clock tick by, and then I learned that the more present and engaged I was, the more I learned. The more I learned, the more I contributed thoughts and ideas. The more I did that, the better projects came my way, and the more I advanced my career. I’ve never zoned out of a meeting since and now, I lead many of them.
- Remain present when you think you’re about to have a bad time socially. Being from D.C., everyone craves interaction of any kind that takes them away from their waking life. Oftentimes, it can result in dramatic interactions with people who may not be a good fit for them, thus depleting everyone’s energy level before the evening is even halfway over. Since I work from home, I covet my evenings out, which means I oftentimes find myself very thankful to just be out and to simply enjoy the company that is around me. When I feel as though I’m having a bad time, or I’m bored, I either say goodbye to everyone, in search of a more positive experience; or I stop, take stock of what I’m thankful for in that very moment, and choose to find a glimmer out of it that I can grab onto, carrying me through the rest of the evening. The latter is something I’ve done often and as a result, have had some of the best nights out!
- Remain present in your relationship. This can be one of the HARDEST things to accomplish, as when you’re comfortable in a relationship, your hair comes down, the warts come out, and your partner is now expected to accept everything about you. When this happens, we begin to take things for granted with them, including the love they try to give us. Me not being the most affectionate and outwardly loving person all of the time, it’s been my biggest focus lately – to always try to appreciate my other half in the moment – even if it’s just a hug. Enjoying that hug will end up being one of the best parts of your day!
- Remain present in stressful, anxiety-ridden situations. If you’re like me, you’re a planner who always thinks five steps ahead of everyone, oftentimes creating phantom anxiety on those steps, because you’ve just overwhelmed yourself. No, I’m not saying to ever throw caution to the wind but instead, think through the steps once, write them down if you have to, and then mentally celebrate each step as it’s happening. For example (and it’s going to sound crazy): I get slight anxiety when I travel. There are so many “to-do”s, from getting to the airport, to checking in, to going through all the security checkpoints, getting half undressed, getting re-dressed, getting to the gate, boarding, traveling, de-planing, getting your baggage, getting transportation, checking into the hotel, etc. The sheer thought of this entire process used to be far more than I could handle! A few years ago, I decided that this entire thing was a routine I’d always have to do, to take a deep breath, put a smile on my face, try to make someone else’s day (be nice to the ticket agent, TSA, etc.), and mentally have a little “victory dance” when each part of the routine was completed. I know how silly that sounds, but I know I’m not alone. Some of our routines aren’t ones we’re able to control and when hundreds of people are at it at the same time, it can be trying!
- Have a daily check list of self to-do’s: The other part to remaining present is to make sure you’re taking care of your own needs. My check list of self to-do’s include: Meditate, commit to (and run) any errands I have on my list, do all of my work I have added to my work calendar – don’t let things slip; spend at least 30 minutes working out or taking a walk; make another dent in my novel I’m writing; and make sure my desk is always clear of other “to-do’s”.
Regardless of how you practice getting unstuck, make sure to note the happy things in your day that you remained present for. Turn it into a game: Start with finding three things you enjoyed about your day, the next day, make it four and so on. Before you know it, you’ll be climbing out of your own tar pit, and dancing on to happier places!