Do you feel like you live your life on autopilot, not fully aware of what you’re doing? Take a minute and reflect: Do you remember your commute this morning, or actually tasting your lunch? In our stressful, hectic lives, it’s quite common to find ourselves routinely going through the motions, simply trying to get it all done. What’s more, the things we’re most likely to notice — those that temporarily snap us out of cruise-control — tend to be negative! The traffic jam or the meeting where a colleague was rude are the types of moments that stick out in our minds and impact our moods long after the moments have passed.

Imagine what would happen if we could more fully experience the moments in our days that actually make us feel good. To experience being more present during the day, try this exercise:

  1. Throughout the next few days, try to take special notice of experiences that make you feel good while they are happening: a coworker compliments your hair, you share a laugh with a friend, your coffee is perfect.
  2. Take a second and notice your thoughts and emotions in those moments. Notice how your body feels. How you can tell that the experience is pleasant and enjoyable? How do you know it’s something you like?
  3. Make a mental note, or even write a note in your phone, so you can remember the moment.

What Difference Does it Make?

When we begin to notice these little positive moments in our daily lives, we are training our brains to come off autopilot. Though we can’t necessarily influence traffic jams or predict when our coworkers are going to have bad days, we can absolutely change the way we interact in our daily lives so that we actually notice more than just those negative things. As a bonus, we also may learn more about what we truly enjoy during the course of our days and gain more appreciation for the people and circumstances around us that bring us feelings of joy, love, and peace.

To learn more mindfulness tips and gain greater personal insight, consider contacting your local installation Community Counseling Program or the DSTRESS Line (CONUS: 877.476.7734/OCONUS: 098.970.7734).