Since the primary function of the brain is to protect you, it is constantly on the alert for what can harm you. Therefore, the brain is always busy scanning the past and the future as well as the present.
It’s hard not to have thoughts about what went wrong in your last conversation or what you need to do when you next see someone. All these thoughts are jumbled together with your view of the moment, taking up space in your short term memory. In fact, if there is no apparent danger in the present moment, you probably are operating in automatic pilot as your brain mulls over useless thoughts.
I recently completed a script for a new audiotape program to come out early next year titled Tennis in the Zone (my Golf in the Zone program has done quite well over the years). I learned a number of great lessons from the tennis pros. One that stands out is to, “Play the ball that is in front of you.” In order for you to access your best potential, your creative mind and your happiness center, you need to draw your focus on the world that is going on in front your face at this moment.
Even if you have a problem to work out, it’s amazing how the right answer will come to you quicker if you quit thinking about it. Instead, give the task you are working on 100% of your attention. Listen to the person you are with 100%. Pet you cat, comb your hair, listen to the music in your car with your full attention. This clears your short term memory to analyze and draw from your long term memory for better results.
Biologically, it’s hard to keep your brain focused in the present moment. It’s a new habit you must create. Yet with discipline, you’ll come to see how much you missed in the present when you weren’t there.