“ I feel like my life has slipped away from me, like if I have been robbed of enjoyment and truly living. I know, no one is to blame but me. I have been squandering every single moment of my existence. Either dwelling on the intrusive memories of my mom’s death and my divorce, mourning for my failure to get a job or fretting about my insecure future”
That’s what Sarah, a thirty years old depressed woman, told her psychologist.
“How can I get rid of all this buzzing that’s happening in my mind? How can I focus more on living in the present, on changing my life and stop worrying about everything? please help me”
While you are listening to Sarah’s desperate cry for help, don’t be surprised if I tell you that this is the case of a large majority of people nowadays due to increased anxiety and stress.
Your situation might not be as grave as what Sarah has described. But, how often do you find yourself spending your waking hours thinking about something else, other than what you are doing?
Most of us are struggling to pay more attention to the present because our mind is unable to stop wandering between the past and the future. It’s easier for us to be in the subconscious state, rather than concentrating on the actions we should take to face today’s challenges.
Thus, we are either building castles in the air and daydreaming about a better and happier future or obsessed with the fear of the unknown and with worries that most of which never happen.
We are either regretting our mistakes and things that we couldn’t achieve or dwelling on memories that we loved too much but we can never bring back again.
We tend to forget that we are blessed for every precious second that we have been given. We do not realize that real happiness can be in the present moment. We blindly ruin our happiness by allowing our scattered thoughts to take control over us.
What to do to be more in the present moment is what I will be talking about in this article. I will also share some practical tips to help you live day-by-day and avoid missing out on the wonderful NOW!
Opt For Forgiveness :
Forgive as much as possible, starting by yourself first. self-reconciliation is crucial for eradicating negative thoughts and feelings. Acknowledge your errors and mistakes, beware of them, learn from them and move on. Don’t fall into the trap of self-incrimination. You need to love yourself, to forgive yourself, and simply embrace your imperfections.
In the same vein, learn to be more forgiving to others’ shortcomings.
What happened after your close friend gave up on you when you most needed him?
How did you feel when your sister hurt you with a behaviour that you never expected?
Are you still harbouring resentment towards them?
Instead of trying to resist this unpleasant sensation, or allowing it to impact your mood today, forgiving people will help you let go easily, achieve inner-peace and be more in the present.
Accept Your Present:
When you are unsatisfied and unhappy with your present and you chose to reject it instead of accepting it, you are more likely to live outside of time.
No matter what you are experiencing right now, be it sadness, pain, stress, weakness or anger, just admit it, accept it and embrace it as it is.
This will help you to stop overthinking and to focus on finding out solutions. Acceptance of an unpleasant state doesn’t stand for resignation and doesn’t mean that you are forced to like your current situation. It simply means that you won’t be fighting against your fate but doing your best to change what you can change.
Think about the good things that you have such as your health, your job, your money, your family, your close friends or your achievements and success. No matter how big or small these positive things are, being thankful for them will raise your awareness of the present and help you to better value your present moments.
Build the habit of speaking your gratitude every day. It will also enhance your happiness. For example, you might say, “I am so thankful the weather is nice today!” or “I am so thankful for my ability to stand on my feet”
Create More Enthusiasm In Your Life:
Make your presentations more exciting and interesting, it will make it easy for you to devote more attention to it.
Think of building new habits instead of being too set in your routine. You can start exercising, reading books, learning a new skill or trying new recipes.
You may add a new ritual to your bedtime routine such as meditating or giving yourself a face massage. As you can simply try taking a different road for your evening walk.
Savour Your Surroundings:
Improving your mindfulness, which means living in the moment, starts by being less oblivious to what’s happening around you and trying to notice your surroundings. It is more efficient to try this exercise while you are doing things where it is easy to drift away to the past or the future.
For example, when you are taking a shower, eating a meal, drinking a cup of tea or brushing your teeth, do your best to get all your sens involved in what you are doing.
Notice the taste of your dish, the flavour of your toothpaste and feel the smoothness of the water on your body.
And if you realize that you are absent-minded, focus on the way your breath enters and exits your lungs for few seconds, then remind yourself of what you were doing by saying for example: “Now I am brushing my hair. My hair is long, black and soft…”
Have A Mindfulness Cue:
Tying a string around your wrist or drawing a pen mark on your hand could be used as mindfulness cues to keep reminding yourself that you need to be mindful and come back to the present moment.
You can also write something like “Focus” or “Live now” or “Attention” on a piece of paper and post it on your desktop.
Visualize Your Daily Tasks:
Keep in mind that your future hinges on your ability to take actions in the present, rather than wasting time worrying about it. By having a daily plan of how to reach where you want to arrive, it is more likely that you will follow through to completion. Therefore, this will keep you busy all day long and you will have less free time for your frustrations or any disruptions.
All you need to do is to take a few minutes before you sleep to write down your to-do list of the next day. you can do it on your notebook or on a whiteboard that you can keep in front of your eyes.
What’s more, checking the tasks that you have done will give you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that can increase your instant happiness.
Set Your Goals For The Near Future:
Having a clear vision about what you want to achieve can sharpen your motivation, enhance your productivity and provide you with extra-fuel to accomplish everything on your to-do list. This will help you improve your focus and become more mindful on a regular basis.
A goal is supposed to be SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based.
Conduct A Review Of Your Day:
Writing, in a journal or a diary, what you have been through during your day, will not only help you keep track of your daily progress but also gives you an opportunity to be mindful while you are concentrated on analyzing your outcomes of the day and looking forward to improvements.
Live Each Day As If It Were Your Last:
How about if you wake up a morning to find out that this is the last day of your life?
Will you have any time to waste regretting your past? I really doubt it!
And of course, you’ll have no worries about the future because you practically no longer have any future!
Clearly, your mind won’t be vaulting from thought to thought like a monkey swinging from tree to tree. Instead, it will be completely focused on how to fully take advantage of every single second of this day.
In other words, you’ll be more aware of your surroundings, of your body, of your breath.
You will be taking constructive steps to correct your mistakes. You’ll be smiling and laughing more. You’ll be more engaging with others, more thoughtful and more caring towards your loved ones.
So why not adopt the same attitude for a lifetime and live each day as if it were your last!
I would love to sum up with this wise quote of Eckhart Tolle: “Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry—all forms of fear—are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”
Therefore, whenever you have such annoying and daunting feelings, remember that the only way to get rid of them is by returning to the present. As Buddha says: “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
Of course, you need to plan for your future just as you should learn from your past. However, it is important to make sure that this is a conscious activity, that you are undertaking with complete awareness for a good purpose, and not just a pointless and habitual escape from the present.
This article had already provided you with so many helpful hints. The ball is in your court now, it’s up to you to put them into action.