At any moment in your life, being able to live in the present would determine the quality of your life. So, it is important from the perspective of your happiness and hence finds its place on this happiness blog.
Having said that, it is not easy to live in the present because the human mind has a tendency to keep drifting to either the past or the future. Let us learn together some ways to live in the present moment. After all, they say, it’s a present, right?
How to live in the present moment?
The good news is that there are ways to live in the present moment, and we can all learn it through consistent practice. It does take practice, after all. The mind gets used to things it does over a repeated basis.
The below are 11 ways to live in the present moment.
1. In order to live in the present, remind yourself that the past is dead
So many of are living our lives in the past. The past is dead. You had a good past and you had a bad past. The past now is dead. It doesn’t exist. No matter how much ever we want to do that, we can’t go back and fix our past.
Whenever you are distracted by your past, remind yourself that the past is dead for good, and would never return. All you really have is the present moment and if you don’t make use of the present moment, this would also go wasted, and become the past, which you would feel bad about.
The way we should live lives is to look at our lives as a process of creating happy memories. Imagine, if we lived that way. You would not do anything that would bring you pain. Of course, there would be some errors in judgement, but over time, you would get better, and make better decisions towards your happiness that would lead to creation of happy memories.
2. You can only plan for the future, and not live in it
You and I cannot live in the future. The only thing we can really do about the future is to plan for it. If there is future, you may plan to have something to do. However, as we live our lives, we realize that a lot of the plans we end up making for life fall apart in the face of reality, sometimes for good, and sometimes not for good.
The future is uncertain and not guaranteed to any of us. Therefore, we cannot live in it. At some point, the future would become the present, and then we would be able to use it.
However, the only strategy that would augur well for future planning is to make your present a happy state. If you find out what makes you happy in the present moment, you just have to take those moments and make it replicable in the future.
A lot of people end up wasting their present for a future date when they would be happy. This is recipe for a wasted life. Life is lived in the journey and not in the destination. We have no idea if we would get to live the future. The only thing we really have is the present and so it makes sense that we give all of our energy to making the best of the present.
If you take good take of your present, the future will take care of itself.
3. Practice mindfulness to practice living in the moment
Being mindful is to be fully present in the present moment- physically and mentally. If you want to practice living in the present moment, it would help to practice mindfulness.
Where ever you are, observe yourself if you are full there. If your mind is getting distracted by the past, remind yourself that the past is dead. If your mind is getting distracted by the future, remind yourself that the future is not here yet, and you have already planned for it, and there is nothing more you can do about it.
Eat mindfully. Work mindfully. Walk mindfully. Put mindfulness into everything you do since mindfulness is at the essence of being able to live our lives in the present moment.
4. Do ONLY things you are interested in
Have you seen kids so involved in something that they totally forget what’s happening around them? I am sure the answer is yes. However, have you seen adults do that much? Rarely.
Adults are easily distracted because we don’t quite live in a world where people are encouraged to do stuff they are naturally interested in. Most people go to jobs they hate, or don’t like. That is a terrible way to live life and a sure shot way of not being able to live in the moment.
When you do stuff you don’t like, or you spend time with people you don’t like, you don’t pay attention. When you don’t pay attention, you end up wasting the present moment because attention is at the essence of being able to live in the present.
If you want to be living in the present, start doing things that you are deeply interested in. Find a job you would love to do, even if it pays less in the beginning. Since you would love the work, you would grow soon, in every way. It helps to have financial and emotional support on this journey.
However, in the absence of it, start slow, but move for sure in the direction of things you find genuinely interesting. That would make it easier for you to live in the present moment.
5. Practice meditation and concentration to live in the present
Close your eyes and sit in a peaceful position. Now, focus on your breathing and let the thoughts wander. Just observe what’s happening. Meditation helps in focusing your mind and makes it relaxed. It is a great start to the day, and since you are focusing on your breathing, it is helpful in being able to live in the present moment.
We take our breathing for given. However, when we meditate, we are actually paying attention to the breathe going in and out. That builds our mindfulness muscles and improves our capacity to be present in the present.
The lines between concentration and meditation are blurry. However, meditation is inclined towards more of awareness, while concentration is continued focus on one thing. That ways, meditation is more flexible since you are concentrating on your breath, and also observing your thoughts. You are not trying to concentrate on a particular thought. I would say that meditation leads to better concentration for sure.
To conclude this point, meditation is a great enabler for a life focused on the present moment.
6. Work hard on your dreams
One of the best ways to stay in the present moment is to work really hard on stuff you find interesting and exciting, as we mentioned above. Work hard towards your dreams, and do not give up till you achieve them.
There are several factors that take the outcomes of our efforts beyond our control. However, action in itself towards our destination is a source of joy. When we are doing something we are fully immersed in, we do not have any time for the past or the future.
So, work hard on what really matters to you, so that you don’t have the time for anything but the present moment.
7. Practice doing nothing every now and then
Why do you think most people pretend to be busy all the time? We can’t quite be busy all the time, but most people are literally scrolling the social media half of the day, in a lost minded fashion. Their minds are distracted and they are just going through their social media feed for more distraction.
Here is something I recommend, and that I do. Just sit without your gadgets in a quiet room and look outside the window. Do literally nothing. Do not try to occupy your mind. Just like in the process of meditation, think about anything that may come to your mind, and do nothing else.
Realize that you are doing nothing. Probably, some interesting thoughts may occur to you during this period that could solve some of the problems you are dealing with in your life.
8. Run/work out without music/sound of any form
First of all, I highly recommend that you run or do any form of intense physical workout 5-7 hours a week. It helps you in staying fit physically and mentally. Health is important for us to be able to live in the moment.
Secondly, do not use earphones or anything else to distract yourself while you engage in the physical activity. That ways, it becomes meditative and you can just focus on the physical activity while your mind goes wandering and come with some thoughts. Some of these thoughts are the most creative solutions to the problems you face. I am not the only one who says that. I have heard several people say that they get their most creative ideas while they are in a period of intense physical activity.
What a beautiful way to learn to live in the moment.
9. Use technology judiciously
When you are working using technology, it is a great tool and makes our lives better. However, when you are just riffing through technology because you are distracted, technology could be quite harmful, and make take away from your ability to live in the present moment.
When you are going to sleep, put the phone away from you-physically away so that you won’t pick it up again on a whim. Keep your laptop away post the work is finished. Put away the kindle too.
Be aware when you are using technology so that it is a tool that you use consciously, and not the other way round.
10. Slow down and immerse in the moment
Stop and smell the roses. One of the reasons we are not able to live in the moment is because we run too fast. We are in a rush to always reach somewhere. We are in a rush to get to work, to come back from work, to have food, to do everything we do. The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness, or distraction- a state of permanent distraction.
So, we live a life of mindlessness where we are permanently thinking about the next activity, and we don’t pay any attention to the present.
Slow down and smell the roses. Make time to live, while you are alive.
11. Figure out ways to be happy, happier
You know, it is hard to be distracted when we are happy.
Does that sound like a good plan?
Yes, that’s the end of this list. However, since this is an important question of life, let us also look at some ‘living in the moment’ quotes. People throughout history have thought about how to live in the present moment, and we could learn from them. The internet is full of quotes on living in the moment.
Here are a few we quotes on living in the moment.
1. “Forever is composed of nows.”
― Emily Dickinson
2. “Life is a journey, not a destination.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson
3. “We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.”
― Bill Watterson
4. “The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.”
― Thomas S. Monson
5. “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
At this point it is a good idea of ask why does everyone harm about living in the present moment? What are the benefits of living in the moment? Why should we try to make an effort to live in the present?
There are several benefits of living in the present moment.
Let us look at a few briefly-benefits of living in the present moment
1. You begin to start living life
When you live in either the past or the future in your mind, you are essentially wasting your life. Life cannot be lived in past or the future. You can only begin to enjoy life when you live in the present.
2. You enjoy your work, your food, relationships-everything more
Suddenly, because you have aligned your life to the present moment, you don’t feel distracted when you are at work, when you are eating, or spending time with people you care about.
You enjoy each activity far more than you used to do.
3. You are happier and more grateful
You are grateful because you realise that the present moment is a present that we have been given. Life could be taken away from us any moment, and the only way we can cherish life is by living in the moment.
To be able to live in the present moment is a blessing. However, it is not easy. We are constantly distracted by the past or the future. There are several things we need to get right about life and our mind-set so that you can live in the present. If you can take one thing from this piece, know that when you align your life around things and people that make you happy, you would need nothing else to be able to live in the present. I wish that you do.
Thank you for reading.
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I appreciate the time you spent in reading the blog and wish you happiness.