Living in the moment has been a pursuit of mankind since the beginning of time.
It’s part of the reason the venerable “old wise man on the mountain” image has thrived in the collective imagination for so long. The thing is, if you’ve tried living in the moment yourself, you may have found that it can be a bit challenging. It’s not as simple as pushing a button or flipping a switch.
You can’t even go out and take a course in “Living in the Present 101” at your local university. It takes a lot more work than that.
Playing the Long Game
As with so many valuable things in life, living in the moment is a life skill that is fostered and developed over a lifetime. It requires a steady, patient focus on being present and aware of what’s going on around you. It’s something you must practice every single day.
The wonderful thing about this is that it isn’t a pass or fail scenario. Learning to live in the moment is something that you can always work towards, perpetually cultivating a positive attitude and an expectation of eventually reaching the next level of growth and understanding.
5 Powerful Tips to Start Living in the Moment
With that said, though, sometimes it can be a bit difficult to maintain that present mindset at all times. If you feel that you’re struggling with the concept, here are a few tips and tricks to help encourage your mind to naturally flow in that positive, present direction as often as possible.
First and foremost, get your head out of the technology. Tech is not bad in moderation. In fact, it has a myriad of great uses. However, the overuse of your phone, tablet, laptop, and other devices, along with their endless streams of content, can be completely mind-numbing. They must be turned off from time to time in order to just let yourself breath for a bit.
Even if you can only get a few minutes a day “unplugged,” take them. If you can manage to disconnect for longer periods of time, that’s even better. Either way, making an effort to take time off from using your devices can have a huge impact on your ability to focus on the present.
2. Strive to Be Aware
It’s easy to simply say to yourself “pay attention!” and hope that that’s all it will take to be more aware of your surroundings. But as any distracted toddler demonstrates on a regular basis, humans just aren’t wired that way. That’s why it’s important to practice focusing in on the things around you. Strive to be aware of everything you can, from actively listening to those you communicate with all the way down to noticing your hairs tingling when they’re moved by a light breeze.
One common way to achieve this is by practicing mindfulness. Spend time meditating and purposefully sitting still. It’ll probably be a bit challenging at the beginning. However, the more you train your mind to slow down, the easier it will be to find a natural balance within yourself. This will enable you to let go of the nagging stresses and anxieties of your circumstances, freeing you up to remain in the here and now.
3. Keep Perspective
Another helpful tip is to try to keep the bigger picture in mind. Yes, that car repair is absolutely ruining your week and will cost an arm and a leg to fix, but at the end of the day, it’s one tiny event on the larger timeline of your life.
An excellent example of cultivating this proper perspective can be found with those who are terminally ill. The knowledge that your time is limited empowers individuals to cut to the chase, focus on reality, and dispense with the fluff.
In fact, when nurses are trained to interact with those who know that there is an active expiration date on their life, they are taught to quickly move past small talk, attempt to build genuine relationships, and focus on the positive aspects of the patient’s life.
The example of a terminal illness helps to highlight how powerful life in the here and now can be. Worrying about the past or the future won’t do anything to help with the present before you right now.
As one anonymous poet put it, “There are two days in every week about which we should not worry. Two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.” As the poet goes on to explain, the first of these days is yesterday. The second one is tomorrow.
4. Look for the “Little Things”
If you’re having trouble focusing on the now, sometimes all it takes to break that unhealthy concentration is to look for the little things. Spend time with your children. Take a walk with your pet. Go for a run, a jog, or a meandering stroll. One of the best suggestions of all? Look at your hands.
Yes, you use them all the time, but just take a second to observe them. They’re a wonder, aren’t they?
In other words, find the little things that can ground you in the reality of the now. Don’t over-analyze them. Just observe, enjoy, and be.
This last one is a must. If you want help getting into the present, do your best to take time to be in nature whenever and wherever possible. From star gazing to rock climbing, hiking to a day at the beach, find ways to go out in the nitty-gritty, jaw-dropping, shockingly beautiful real world whenever you can. Not only is this refreshing, but when you can get extended periods of time in nature, it can literally regenerate your brain and boost your creativity.
Learning to Just Be In the Moment
While each of these are excellent tools, remember that you’re not using them to “conquer” being in the present. We’re all “do-ers” in the modern age when what we really need to learn is how to “be.” This isn’t a challenge or a test. It’s life. It’s who you are.
You live, breath, and blink dozens of times a minute because your body isn’t tied up with anxiety and stress about what happened yesterday or what’s coming tomorrow. You literally stay alive because your physiological body stays pin-point focused on the present.
It’s okay to allow your mind to do that as well. Yes, you’re made up of the sum of your past experiences, and you have a bright future ahead. But for right now, for this literal second that you’re reading this, you’re right here in the moment. Embrace it.