I recently watched the documentary Race to Nowhere and it got me thinking. It discusses the state of the problems with our youth today and the impact of always feeling we have to strive, to get somewhere and do something. Meanwhile, I was asked to speak at an upcoming conference, Wisdom 2.0 Youth. I was asked for the title of my talk and somehow Race to Right Here Right Now arose in my mind. It was then that I realized: many of us, at a very young age, are already racing to somewhere, but we're losing the race to being right here right now.
We are always wanting to attain a goal, accomplish a task, move forward in our education or our career. But how often do we just sit in what is? Can we race to be right here right now, which is the core of mindfulness?
OK: racing isn’t one of the core features of mindfulness, but surely being here right now is. It’s important for youth to have goals, aspirations, dreams, and accomplishments, but how—if we are always trying ourselves to get to the next something—are our youth going to learn that it is OK to just be here right now without worrying or holding expectations about everything?
We often say we need to take care of ourselves or say that in fact we are taking care of ourselves, but how often do we really do what it takes to take care of ourselves?
I encourage you, and those youth you interact with, to start the race to mindfulness. There are many ways you can do this, but here are a few simple ideas:
1. Check in with your body and your breath in this moment, bringing you into the here and now and less in your head. Encourage those teens around you to do the same.
2. Make a list of the things you are grateful for just as they are. Ask the teens in your life to do the same. And let them know that you're grateful for them, too.
3. Do something today that is just for your own well-being, just about today, and not about racing to the next thing.
4. Smile at someone. Give someone a hug.
5. Notice something simple such as the sun, a flower, a picture that brings you joy.
It’s about noticing the little things; being mindful of your surroundings and of the greatness that life can offer us just as it is. Even in the midst of very difficult times and struggles, if we widen our eyes just a little bit, there is something beautiful worth seeing, and that can rejuvenate us.