I was watching an episode of the Walking Dead when I realized that human beings have a lot in common with zombies. We move about our day doing things without being fully present or engaged in our lives, often resembling a half alive creature. We shove food in our mouths with little to no thought of nutrition, which leads to weight gain and poor health — the human version of rotting slowly. We have feelings and needs but rather than communicate them vulnerably and genuinely, we choose to groan about them instead. When deeply hurt, many people become unemotional and show no mercy to those who hurt us.
Basically, we are, rotting, non-communicative, and merciless. We are disconnected from ourselves and from each other. We’re “living” zombies — or, as I like to call it, the Walking Wounded.
Yes, life is challenging. There are real demands that come with having a family, relationships, a career, children, friends, a community, and everything else that composes our lives. When problems bubble up, it’s often easier to shut off and treat your life like a to do list, rushing around checking the boxes off rather than being present in the moment, however painful or difficult it might be.
However, I’d like to offer you an alternative option.
Go Into Combat By Stepping Into the Moment
Try thinking about things like this: Each one of your life challenges is an opportunity to grow, learn, love and connect. Just for one day I am asking you drop your negative thinking, limiting beliefs, and expectations and be. I promise things will get done and maybe even faster than you ever before.
It seems impossible right? It isn’t. Here are some fun ways to connect with life and yourself:
1. Spend the day noticing the world around you. Go for a walk. Take it all in. Look at the plants, buildings, and people. Listen to the sounds. Decide to smile at strangers and say “hi” often. Maybe even strike up a conversation with a stranger. Pay attention to what happened and how it made you feel.
2. Be fully present with another person. Go on a date. Look at the person you are with in the eyes. Focus on their words, gestures, look, and smell. Pay full attention to the conversation. Soak this person in as if your life depended on it. Leave your expectations at the door — just be and enjoy the person across from you.
3. Have dinner with your family or friends. Ask everyone to be present and not use their phones. Don’t rush to get the dishes done afterwards. Have a conversation. Watch the people sitting at the table. Notice their gestures and facial expressions as they talk and enjoy them.
4. Don’t rush. Plan your whole day and don’t hurry to get anywhere. Enjoy the process of being in your day. Did you make it on time anyway? I bet you did.
5. Take a drive. Do not react to anything drivers on the road do. Just observe. What do you notice about yourself and your surroundings while on the road?
6. Play with your kids. Even if it’s just for an hour, really play. Get into it. Jump into the magical world of fantasy and be in it with them.
7. Spend time in nature. Go to the beach if you can and build a sand castle. Be intentional. Get a bucket and shovel and go. Focus only on the sand castle. Go for a hike or have a picnic in the park. Notice the shapes of the foliage around you and the smell of the fresh air. Go alone or take a friend with you.
8. Plan and cook a meal for yourself. Be thoughtful about it. Focus on nourishing yourself. Make the plate beautiful. Set the table, light a candle, turn on the music and enjoy each bite. How do you feel afterwards?
9. Commit to being present at work. Spend the day being fully engaged in each activity that comprises your work. No stories about how the boss sucks and no one appreciates you. Just be present. When you talk to your co-workers, look them in the eye and connect with them. Does anything seem different?
When the day is done, write about it. What was different? What came up for you? Did you notice where you might be limiting your life?
And there you have it. Congratulations! You have taken a simple and effective step to reconnect with yourself and the world around you. The best part is that there are no rules here — you can do this on any scale. It can be as small and easy as really listening during a conversation with no thoughts about your response, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Enjoy your life. It’s happening now.