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Have you ever found yourself worrying about different things? Have you ever felt that big events and celebrations of your life are often clouded by a sense of worry and stress? These feelings are so common among people.
Humans are the wisest species of them all, and they get this label because of their ability to contemplate about the future. Our foresight and our ability to intelligently calculate the risks attached to certain activities are the reason why we are unique.
But our wisdom – and that inherent quality of worrying about the future – is the very reason why we feel depressed and anxious all the time. Many people are so consumed worrying about the things they cannot control that they forget to breathe and live in the moment. The result: all the beautiful moments pass by and we fail to even take notice of them.
Instead of constantly thinking about what the future holds for you, you should focus your entire energy in the present.
A study shows that people spend nearly half their time thinking about something else and not focusing on what they are doing in the present. Suppose, you are at a party at your friend’s house on a Saturday night. While you should normally be enjoying yourself, you are worried about what will happen on Monday morning at work. Since you are preoccupied with worries and stress, you didn’t enjoy your time at all.
Will we ever be able to fight against the feeling of helplessness and anxiousness? Or will we forever be trapped inside the web of our own negative thoughts? The good news is that we can break free from these thoughts that dominate our mind 24/7, and the key is to stay in the present and don’t be distracted.
But the only way to emerge stronger and feel good even during times of adversity is for you to take charge of your life. A study has found that happiness is a choice. It is you who ought to make an effort to feel good about yourself and be happy.
The level of happiness that you can attain is directly proportional to the extent to which you stay in the present. In this post, we will have a look at five ways that can help us be present and live in the moment on a daily basis.
Sidebar: One way to live in the present moment is to build the mindfulness habit. If you’re interested in learning more about this concept, check out the book Declutter Your Mind to learn how to stop worrying and reduce anxiety.
5 Simple Ways to Be in the Present Moment
1. Trust Yourself
In a 2005 Stanford speech, Apple founder Steve Jobs said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” The message of the founder of the tech giant can be interpreted as follows: you have to trust that whatever life is throwing at you will play an important part in determining your future.
It doesn’t matter what happened to you in the past or what other challenges you will face in the future. What matters is how you act in the present and what you are doing about the things that matter today.
You have to trust that whatever challenges and difficulties that you stumbled upon in your journey towards your goal will somehow lead you to your final destination. You have to trust in your abilities and your skill. You have to trust that you have what it takes to do something great. This will give you the required courage to push yourself and work towards your goals.
2. You Are Not Your Thoughts
Each one of us is carrying the weight of our inner voice that keeps reminding us about the good and the bad things about ourselves. However, if the inner voice keeps meddling in your activities to such an extent that they restrict you from working on your true potential, you have to make an effort to prevent them from dominating your minds.
Imagine that you have to deliver a speech in front of an audience. You are well-prepared and you know that you can nail it, but the inner voice keeps reminding you of all the things that can go wrong. “What if you mispronounce a word?” “What if you forget all the important points midway?” The inner voice tricks you into believing that you are not good enough.
You can defeat this voice by not focusing on it. You have to try to replace those negative thoughts with positive ones. And when you are up on the stage, you have to let go of all fears and be present. Thinking too hard about your actions sometimes lead to unfavorable results. In your attempt to make your work flawless, you end up making even more mistakes.
Delivering a speech or leading the presentation may make you anxious. But if you focus on your anxiety and let it control your thoughts, you will make things worse for yourself. You have to live in the moment and focus on what you have to deliver instead of what can go wrong or how your audience will react to what you have to say.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the state of active and intentional attention on the present. It urges you to go with the flow, be present, and just focus on being. People who are mindful are happier and have a positive outlook on life. Is mindful an inherent quality or can you achieve mindfulness at any stage of your life?
You can work on being more mindful at any age. We have listed down a few exercises that will help you focus on yourself and live in the moment, instead of focusing on distracting and negative thoughts.
Wake Up Early
When you wake up early in the morning, you have a great opportunity to get the important things done. You also will have low levels of stress and anxiety as you don’t have to rush to catch the bus to work or to get other tasks done.
We have defined our life’s purpose with lists and goals. Minutes after reaching one goal, we motivate ourselves to achieve another goal. Since we are living in a highly materialistic world, we often take some of our blessings for granted.
For instance, we don’t feel cultivating gratitude for the fact that we don’t have any chronic disease to deal with or that we have no medical condition that puts a restriction on our diet. Instead of focusing on what we have, we normally spend time daydreaming about the items that we want to possess.
For example, if your company poses a groundbreaking profit of several thousand, you instantly define another difficult goal for yourself. You don’t even get the chance to breathe and feel about achieving the first goal.
As a result, you spend the rest of the quarter worrying over whether you can meet the goal. It is important to pause for a short while and show gratitude for the things that you have achieved. Cultivating gratitude helps you appreciate even the small pleasures of your life and prevents negative thoughts from clouding your thoughts. (If you’d like to learn more about this concept, be sure to check out this 90-day gratitude journal.)
Another important exercise that helps you focus on being in the moment is the concentration exercise. Pick up any object: a ball, a rose, or a book. Hold it in your hands and observe it. And by observe, we don’t mean that you should just look at it. You have to hold the object and concentrate on it. Look at its design, the loose thread that might be coming out, the delicate lines on the petals, or the hard old cover of the book. Begin this exercise by focusing on the object for 10 minutes and slowly increase the time spent on it.
Meditating can help you declutter your mind and concentrate on the present.
This exercise helps you observe the small objects that you don’t pay attention to. It also helps you boost your concentration levels. Once you master it, you will be able to employ the same level of concentration at work or in other important personal matters. For example, you will listen to what your partner has to say more attentively or you will concentrate more on the seemingly less important tasks at work.
Take Digital Breaks
We have grown up using all kind of gadgets. When at work, we constantly check our phones to see if we have missed out on an important message or call. It is important to unplug yourself from these gadgets for short periods during the day.
In the morning, for example, don’t check your phone for at least the first two hours. Concentrate on your work and don’t distract yourself. What is the use of watching your friend’s vacation pictures at work and then spending the rest of the day calculating the amount of money you need to afford the same kind of vacation for yourself?
Smile In the Mirror
Does your reflection in the mirror tell who you really are? Do you find the person who stares back at you to be likable? Are you happy with what you see in the mirror? Smiling releases endorphins – the hormones that reduce stress – and relaxes the body. If you perform a task with a smile on your face, you are likely to have greater levels of productivity. This may sound a bit ridiculous at first, but start your day by smiling in the mirror and then enjoy the benefits that come with this easy exercise.
4. Focus on Post-Traumatic Growth
Personal tragedy plays an important role in shaping our personalities. People who have lost a loved one to a serious disease or who have witnessed some sort of a financial disaster are likely to be more skeptical about what the future holds for them. As a result, they forget to live in the moment and make the most of the time that they have. Every decision that a person makes, then, gets influenced by their past experiences.
It is important to be mindful of what happened in the past. It is also essential to never forget about things in the past. But it is not healthy to hold on it. You have to let things of the past go and focus on the present. For your mental peace and happiness, it is important to live in the present and explore the world with renewed energy.
5. Define Your Daily Goals
That you have certain dreams for your future is a good thing. It also means that you have already found your passion or drive to work hard towards your goal. But, when you define a big goal for yourself, you spend a lot of time thinking about whether you will achieve it or not.
You have to breakdown your big goals into smaller goals so that you can have a sense of accomplishment every time you manage to finish one goal. Each day, define goals that you intend to achieve and work on completing them. Be present and focus on what you can complete in the now.
The Last Word on Living in the Present Moment
You have limited time in the world. Your life will have their ups and downs, and while being happy doesn’t require any effort when everything goes in your favor, the real growth will come to you when you hit the rock bottom.
These hard times are when you need to focus on being a happier person. That said, if you focus on the five tips we just outlined, you’ll discover that it’s not that hard to live more in the present moment.
Finally, if you’d like to learn more about the concepts we covered in this article, be sure to take a look at the book Declutter Your Mind to learn how to stop worrying and reduce anxiety.