I recently had a wake-up call that taught me about living in the present.
I had been spending vast amounts of time thinking about things that would make me happy. Thinking that if I could just lose 20 pounds I’d feel so much better about myself. Wishing I could just fast-forward the next few months so I could skip to the good times. You get the idea.
One day as I was spiraling in my thoughts of “if only…” I had a big realization. I was spending so much time wishing I was enjoying life that I wasn’t putting any time in to actually enjoying it.
I was focused on the negative and it was bringing me down and keeping me from being present for the people I love.
If you’ve ever struggled with wishing life was different, you probably know what I mean. It just plain sucks!
But life is way too short to be living like that (I don’t even care how cliché that sounds).
So, I started doing these three things and it has helped me feel happier and more in tune with my life.
*Please note that all content in this post is opinion only. If you are struggling with your mental health, please seek out a certified health care professional.
3 Ways to Start Living in the Present
1. Start Today
Here it is: If you want to start living in the present, you have to stop procrastinating and just do it.
Put your excuses aside, stop waiting until you’re skinnier, and allow yourself to accept that it’s OK to start where you’re at.
HOLY. This is hard to do. BUT, you CAN do it!
Think of how many times you’ve told yourself the diet/exercise program/happier self starts tomorrow. And does it? If you’re like me, the answer is never. So, use that as the fuel to begin now.
Just pick one thing you’ll start today and do it.
It’s not a race and you don’t have to do everything all at once. Go for that walk, read that book, or write in your journal.
It’s amazing how much more in control you’ll feel when you finally start to focus on consciously being and acting in the present.
2. Practice Mindfulness
A great way to keep you grounded in the here and now is to practice mindfulness.
There are many ways to do this but here’s a quick and easy trick I use. (It was actually given to me by a therapist a few years back and I find myself using it often.)
When I find myself in a tailspin thinking about everything that is out of my control, this is what I do:
- List three things I see
- List three things I hear
- List three things I feel (touch)
This can be done silently or out loud but, you have to make sure that your lists are purely observational.
Don’t pass judgments. For example, if you’re on the bus when you’re doing this exercise and one of the things you see is a girl with shiny long brown hair that looks like it took hours to do, just note long brown hair. Don’t make a judgment on how long it took to make it look that way.
I know this seems kind of silly, but it really helps me. Sometimes I turn my lists into lists of 5+ (depending on how unfocused I am) but it always brings me back to my surroundings and back into the present.
Once I’m in the better headspace it’s much easier to focus on things that I can control right now!
I also like to use guided meditations to help me practice mindfulness. Personally, the Calm app is my go to.
3. Take Notes!
The power of writing things down is incredible. Actually putting your thoughts into writing gives your ideas greater clout and meaning.
So, write down the ways you’ve been living in the present. It doesn’t matter how you do it, whether it’s a daily debrief or one-liners during the day, but do it!
As you write down the moments where you’ve embraced the present your focus will shift and you’ll find yourself worrying less about all the “if onlys” the future holds.
Start Living in the Here & Now
Learning to live in the here and now can be a big challenge, but with practice it can become a regular part of your life, and it’ll be worth every ounce of effort.
So start today, practice mindfulness, and take notes of your success. Soon you’ll find yourself living in the moment and experiencing more happiness on a daily basis.
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