Tag Archives: focus

It’s the experience that matters

Happy Runner

Focus on what it’s like to be outdoors, to feeling your body move, to the relationships you may have built through running. These are experiences that can be reproduced with every run—you don’t need a good finish time to produce them. By shifting the focus from results to running itself you’ll feel empowered.  

Jim Taylor, Ph.D., a sports psychologist and author of Prime Sport: Triumph of the Athlete Mind, The Bliss List, Runner’s World.com

from Runner’s World Quote of the Day email, March 18, 2013

I’m into a good groove and consider myself fully recovered from my calf strain.  The process of recovering from an injury is never easy, and if I focus on the end rather than the process, it’s even more painful.  It’s like I’m trying to escape from the injury, or worse, speed up time. Time is the most precious gift of life, and if we can focus on our current “location” and not wish we were “somewhere” else we can lose minutes, hours, days, weeks, even years.

I know, it’s happened to me.  I’ve spent way too much time wishing I had a different job, new skills, more friends, less friends, better physical capabilities, a stronger memory, more creativity – you name it, I’ve wished for it.  I wanted to escape being me and before I knew it there I was, in the same place I was when I started thinking about my escape plan!

No more.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I have what I need, and that what will make me happiest is to be okay with me.  As stated in the quote above, I want to focus on the process, and less on the results.  Life is a journey and if we’re always thinking about the outcome, which is inevitably in the future, we can miss the journey.

Running is a great way to get into the current moment.  In my experience, it’s not unlike meditation, only moving.  When I silence the music and take off the watch (or hide it since I can’t live without the post-run data), and don’t worry about pace or time or even weather, and I focus on the process of running, the rhythm, it really is amazing.

Photography also is helping me get into the current moment, but I’m finding that I need to be careful and not focus too much on the result of the picture.  I’m still a rookie and use automatic settings most of the time, but I’m finding that it’s when I forget about the picture and settle into the moment that I get some of my favorite images.

Below is a chart (click here to access the article from which I pulled this graph – there’s also a great TED talk that accompanies this information on the page) that supports some of the above comments, as it shows that people are happier when in the present moment than when their mind wanders:

I’m extending the concept of “mind wandering” to “escape,” but I think that’s relevant.  If our mind isn’t in the present moment, we are escaping.  Our bodies haven’t moved, but our reality is significantly altered.  I haven’t researched the methodology or dug into the data that produced the chart, but I can say that this is consistent with my experience.

I do understand that there are real, dangerous and painful circumstances from which many people do need to escape, and that I’m lucky to not have to deal with that type of pain.  Yet, I’ve still found myself wishing for something else.  It’s not easy to stay in the present.  I think that’s why people who try to live mindfully call it a practice.

What do you think?  Do you struggle staying in the present?  Are you happier when you’re able to stay in the present?  Do you have any tactics you can share to help others stay in the present?

Thanks for stopping by and reading through this post!