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Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Remember to take time to appreciate what’s around you

Sometimes it’s easy to forget where we are


By OWEN RUDERMAN — opruderman@ucdavis.edu 


Being a college student can feel like a full-time job. Schedules packed full of classes, deadlines and club activities need to be balanced with social lives and work. It’s extremely easy to become overwhelmed with the variety of tasks and responsibilities placed on us. Entire days spent worrying about what’s around the corner are exhausting. Luckily, though, there’s a way to put things in perspective.

It all started with my daily commute. Every day I hop on my bike, pop my earbuds in and ride to campus. At a certain point, the bike ride became part of my daily routine. The people and places around me blended into the background of my day as I rode through Davis, desperate to get to class on time. 

But a few weeks ago I had a sort of revelation. I had forgotten my earbuds and was heading back from campus in the evening. I was lost in my thoughts as usual, but then, for some reason I can’t quite explain, everything around me came into focus. I felt the soft breeze on my face. The nostalgic sound of crickets chirping in the grass nearby mingled with the sound of my tires on the asphalt. I looked up and saw the most stunning golden sunset I’d ever seen, accompanied by brilliantly white, fluffy clouds. I smiled to myself. I felt so incredibly present. It felt like everything was going to work out.

Since that day, I’ve been trying to take some time to stop whatever I’m doing and take in my surroundings. It’s easy to forget about the beauty of the simple things around us. I’ll be walking to class and stop to admire the quad. Or I’ll be sitting on the second floor of Wellman Hall and, instead of scrolling through my phone, I’ll peer out the balcony and people-watch. Taking time to admire the little things makes my day just a little better.

It’s not just my surroundings, either. Being more present in the moment has made me more appreciative of my relationships, with both myself and with others. I was in the Memorial Union the other day, eating a CoHo chicken quesadilla with my friends, when I decided to take a moment to soak everything in. I realized how fortunate I am to be at UC Davis, to have people in my life who care about me — to be alive.

While being more present has definitely improved the quality of my own life, don’t just take my word for it. A 2017 study reported that being more present in the current moment can actually decrease stress and increase resilience and well-being. As college students, I think we could all use a little of that.

So the next time it feels like everything is crumbling down around you, try to take a second to look up and really appreciate your surroundings. I’m willing to bet that your upcoming midterm might not seem so bad after all.

Written by: Owen Ruderman — opruderman@ucdavis.edu 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.



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