Life is made up of a series of events. You know: the stuff that captures our attention. These might be things we jot down on the calendar and look forward to, like birthdays or vacations. Or maybe they’re just appointments we’ve planned for. From our meetings and meals, to seeing friends and family, to visiting the doctor, or catching episodes of our favorite TV show—life involves a lot of waiting for what’s next.
And anticipation can be fun (depending on the event, of course). Looking forward to occasions adds excitement and gives those situations meaning. But the thing is, the events that make it onto our calendar are usually only a fraction of what life is all about.
What about the moments in between?
You know the ones. The 30 minutes while dinner is in the oven. Your commute into work. The time you spend in the waiting room before an appointment. A commercial break. These are minutes that often feel “throw-away,” because they’re just time spent on the way to the next big thing on the planner. But these moments are just as valuable, and there’s a lot of them in life.
Give in-between moments value all their own
While we’re patiently (or impatiently!) waiting for the next thing on our agenda, it takes away from what we’re doing RIGHT NOW, even if it’s just waiting. Because when you think about it, every moment counts. It’s really about being more mindful and filling our time with more than surfing the internet or scrolling through social media. And by enjoying in-between moments, we can live life more fully, which adds to our overall happiness and well-being.
Ways to spend spare moments
When you have extra time, it’s easy to reach for your phone and scroll, scroll, scroll. But what about other ways to spend this valuable time? Spare moments are a chance to be more mindful, dreamy, productive, planful or creative. You could:
- Finish some pages or a chapter in a book.
- Take a few deep breaths and tune in to what’s around you.
- Get in touch with your thoughts—what’s been on your mind lately?
- Think about something you’re thankful for, or jot a few items into a gratitude journal.
- Add items to your weekly shopping list.
- Text or email someone you haven’t spoken to in a bit.
- Daydream about something that makes you happy.
- Do a few crunches, bicep curls, lunges or tricep kick-backs.
- Read an article to learn something new.
- Repeat positive affirmations.
- Set a goal for yourself, or plan a new step for a current goal.
- Chat with your spouse, roommate or child.
- Play with your pet.
- Organize your kitchen countertop.
- Clean something directly in front of you: your dusty car dashboard, dishes in the sink, your bathroom mirror, etc.
You get the idea. Instead of spending those spare minutes idly, why not fill them with something enjoyable or productive? You never know what you may discover or accomplish while you’d normally just be waiting around.
Health benefits of mindfulness
Did you know that living more in the moment can also be good for your health? Mindfulness can help improve your focus and concentration, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve your happiness. It’s science! Every way you spend your in-between moments is helpful. But spending them practicing mindfulness has its own added health benefits.
What will you do?
The next time you find yourself on the subway, or sitting at your doctor’s office or waiting for others to join a meeting—how will you spend your time? Taking advantage of those spare moments can add to your life and health. Which activity will you choose? You may be surprised to find it makes a big difference!