Many of us are not present and many of us are not positive either.  We live in an instant gratification society; we want what we want, and we want it now.  And most likely we are able to get it which only reinforces our need for immediate gratification.

These are some examples: if someone calls us, we pick up the phone.  If someone texts us, we reply usually immediately.  If we have a delicious meal, we take a picture and post it before we eat.  I’m especially guilty of this and there are people in my circle who know not to start eating until I take the picture.

We have noise everywhere since there are countless methods to grab our attention.  We can get our news from thousands of sources.  We have thousands of channels on TV for our entertainment.  There are countless video games.  Social media is always there with so many different platforms to choose from.

So how do we stay present?  How do we stay positive?

A good way is to take a vacation from social media and put down our phone and shut off the TV.

My Lesson and What I Learned

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine invited me up to visit him in Central Florida.  I hadn’t seen him in almost two years.  I hadn’t been to Central Florida in even longer.  I absolutely love this part of Florida.  I spent my summers going to sleep away camp in Wildwood, Florida and I attended the University of Florida in Gainesville for my undergraduate degree.  Go Gators!! 

However, I had never been to where he lives. As I was driving, I was really paying close attention to the surroundings, and I noticed how gorgeous it is and I was smiling ear to ear.

The next day we went out on his boat into the Gulf of Mexico and anchored near a sandbar.  We got off the boat and enjoyed swimming in the water.  I hadn’t looked at or thought about my phone the entire time.  I was totally relaxed and present in the moment.

When we decided to leave, I got back on the boat and checked my phone.  I had missed an important text from a friend who was letting me know that someone close to her passed away.   I got back to her as soon as I could, and it turned out not to be a big deal that I wasn’t there for her immediately.

The Wake-up Call

As we were taking the boat back to his house, we decided to go into the springs that are up there and look for manatees.  I was on my phone and not paying attention.

My friend called me out and rightfully so.  I was missing out.  There was not a cloud in the beautiful blue sky.  The temperature was perfect.  I have never been to this area before.  I hadn’t seen my friend in almost two years.  And here I was stuck in my phone.  All I had to do was relax, enjoy the scenery, and enjoy his company.

I’m glad he called me out because I was missing out.  I put my phone down and began to take in all of the beautiful sights and sounds of this special slice of paradise.

We even saw some manatees…a mom and her baby.

Manatees swimming in a spring.

The Curse of Social Media

Social media has taught us that we never, ever have to disconnect.  It has also taught us to think that if we don’t hear back from someone immediately that perhaps they are mad at us, or we did something to upset them.  This is absolutely not the case. 

I remember when I was growing up, you didn’t make a phone call before 9am or a phone call after 9pm.  If the phone rang outside of those hours, you knew that it was important.  I also remember when there were no answering machines, and if you wanted to talk to someone and they didn’t answer the phone, you called back at another time. 

These rules of decency are long gone and have been replaced by our not living in the present, not enjoying our scenery, and worrying that perhaps we did something to offend a person because they didn’t respond to our text .7 seconds after we sent it.

Messages Everywhere

We are constantly bombarded with messages and information.  Most of which is designed to sell us something, make us fearful of something, or stress us out.  When this happens, we are no longer living in the present, and we are no longer feeling positive.  This profoundly affects us. 

It is extremely important to disconnect.  It is important to be in the present, and most of all, it is important to stay positive.

It is an exceedingly rare instance when someone needs us immediately.  We need to get back to that lifestyle.  We have made ourselves too available and that is to our own detriment.

We have become too busy.  I have a friend who said to me that she hates living by that mantra of “I’m too busy”.  I never want to be too busy for someone.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Be In the Present and Stay Positive

Since I got back from Central Florida, I have made a concerted effort to stay in the present and to stay positive.  It isn’t easy especially since I run a business on my phone and laptop.  However, I have recognized the importance of balance and that I can disconnect and detach myself from work.  I also happen to have wonderful clients who respect my time and I respect theirs.

My Observation

The weekend after I got back from Central Florida, I was invited to another friend’s home about an hour north of where I live.  I have several friends who also live up that way.  When we got together, I made a conscious decision to observe which of my friends kept their phones out and were responsive to the messages they were receiving, and which of my friends put their phones away because it was the weekend. 

Again, we went out on a boat, and I decided that since I didn’t want my phone to get wet, I just put it away.  I let anyone who needed me know where I was and that I would not be available.   I took a few pictures before we left, but I just wanted to sit in the present, enjoy the beautiful day, and be with my friends.  I didn’t have any missed calls when the day was over.  I had a few missed texts and I got back to them when I was able to.  I missed a lot of social media posts, but who cares.

I enjoyed being exactly where I was. Like the day that I was in the Gulf of Mexico, I was relaxed, happy, and free from stress.

My Discovery

I’m really happy that I’ve had this perspective shift. I’m glad that my friend called me out and I was open to making this change in my life. 

Since I have been keeping present, I don’t worry about what will happen.  I make only the next decision that I have to make.  I haven’t thought through the next five, seven, or even ten steps.  I’m less stressed and things just seem to be falling nicely into place. 

I also have made an effort to limit my social media screen time and I turned off the news.  It has been wonderful, and I feel so happy.

Tips for Being in the Present and Staying Positive

  1. Take a vacation from social media.  Your accounts will still be there, but you don’t have to be on them all the time.  It’s okay to miss a post, or a thousand posts.
  2. Turn off the TV, computer, and video games.
  3. Get together with friends and really enjoy their company.
  4. When it comes to making a decision, only make the decision in front of you.  Don’t look at the next five or ten moves.  Life has a way of throwing twists and turns, and you may miss something amazing, like a manatee swimming by your boat.
  5. Practice gratitude.
  6. Compliment complete strangers.  For example, the check-out clerk at a store, or your waitstaff at a restaurant.
  7. Recognize that you only get this one life, and one moment of time.  Appreciate it.
  8. Journal how it feels to stay present and stay positive and take notice of how your life is changing.
  9. Don’t overthink a scenario or look back and second guess something.
  10. Avoid the words: would, could, and should.

As Ferris Bueller said in that wonderful classic 80s movie Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Don’t miss life because you are stuck on your phone.  Put it down, stay present, and you will naturally become more positive.  Nothing is that important to cause you to miss out on life.