Slowing Down Time: Using Daily Themes to Stay in the Present

Quick! What was the best thing that happened to you yesterday? What made that day worthwhile?


If you’re like me (and probably most people) you might have trouble coming up with anything off the top of your head. That’s because, unless you’re already leading a rare and extraordinary life, one day tends to run into the other. Your days then turn into weeks turn into months into years until you find yourself saying, “Is it December already? Can you believe Y2K was nearly six years ago??”

So how do we slow this whole time thing down and live each day to the fullest? One popular method is to “be here now.” Savor the moment, be conscious, that sort of thing.

Personally, I find it hard to remain present just for the sake of it. It takes discipline and, like all things requiring discipline, has the potential to become yet another source of anxiety.

Instead, why not make it fun?

Try this: when you wake up in the morning (or the night before if you’re a planner) create a “theme” for the day. Look for opportunities throughout the day to manifest that theme. It becomes both a game and a source of inspiration as you begin to realize that you are creating your own daily experience, without changing anything about your environment or activities. What changes is how you observe and influence your actions and responses.

A daily theme should be something that is enjoyable yet personally meaningful. Here are some examples:

  • Today is about… humor. I will deliberately look for things I see/hear/read throughout the day that make me smile or laugh.
  • Today is about…patience. I will experiment with responding rationally to irrational requests by my supervisor or spouse, or find interesting things to look at or think about while waiting in line.
  • Today is about…connecting. I will give 100 percent of my attention and energy to each encounter – with clients, co-workers, family, friends, strangers – and notice how they respond.

The trick is to make this fun. Consider it a treasure hunt. Now that you’re looking for them, opportunities to find or create elements in your theme will show up again and again. You’ll get hooked and want to look for more.

Then before you go to sleep, think back over the day. It will be a lot easier to catalog what happened, what you did, how you felt. You’ll find that you’ve lived a much slower, richer day, just by framing how to think and act within it.

What is tomorrow’s theme going to be?