To live in the present means being able to enjoy life in its most optimal form. But building that ‘in the moment’ mindset is way more easily said than done. Think about it: have you ever so been looking forward to that one event, only to find out that when the time came, you couldn’t enjoy? Because I sure have. Upon reflection, I discovered that two important things held me back from enjoyment: anticipation and distraction. Those two little devils will get you sidetracked from feeling alive. Here, I’ll show you how to work around them and start living in the now.
1. Why living in the present requires effort
To live in the present means to be aware of the actual moment you are now experiencing in your life. Even when a multitude of emotions can pull you away from that certain moment. Think about worry, anxiety, and fear. Distracting thoughts are extraordinarily skilled at tempting you away from the present. Their charming but nagging little voice simply will not stop unless you give in. The good news? You can learn to work around them. But it does require you to appreciate the here and now. Because appreciation for the present motivates you to go against any tempting but distracting tugs.
2. What it means to live in the present
Learning to truly appreciate the here and now means gathering a true understanding of what the present means. And that is total awareness of this very second. To live in the present means having a calm mind, a quiet inner voice, and receptive senses. Once you are skilled in parking worrisome thoughts on the side and letting positivity in your mind prevail, you cultivate an open and welcoming attitude. With these aspects, you can experience every happening in your life – the little things included.
3. What good it brings to live in the present
Living this very second in total awareness means nothing is blocking you from pure pleasure. Instead of being distracted by the past or preoccupied with the future, your presence is fully within the realms of now. This means that at any given moment, you can be fully appreciative of your surroundings. And with that, you are able to value and admire everything that crosses your path. Count on more spontaneity, more laughter, more out-of-the-box experiences, and overall more joy.
4. How anticipation might keep you from being in the moment
If you find yourself in a position where you are always looking forward to the next big thing, you miss out on the current moment. Your anticipation for events in the future is holding you back from taking in the now. For years, anticipation for the next best thing in my career prevented me from appreciating what I achieved so far. When I reached a goal, I didn’t even acknowledge it; I solely anticipated my next moves ahead. Does that sound familiar to you? Then keep on reading.
5. Where anticipation and living in the present collide
If you are always thinking one step ahead, you might miss out on things that are happening in the now. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with a healthy dose of expectancy every now and then. Of course, you have all the right to be excited about a planned vacation, a home renovation, the wedding of your dreams, or the longed-for promotion that is right ahead. So, go ahead and indulge in the utter exhilaration that anticipation can so gleefully bring. But, in the meantime, make sure to also enjoy the present. Which means taking in every bit of where you are right now. Especially if we’re talking about life-changing events you are anticipating, remember that the present moment will be over. The present is what your future-you will relate to as ‘the past’.
6. Ways to make the most of anticipation
- Indulge. First, indulge in the excitement of anticipation; it’s not bad to look forward to future events!
- Stand still. Secondly, consciously stand still every now and then. Take in where you are, how you feel, and what you appreciate in your current life.
- Reflect. Take time to journal. Write down your spontaneous thoughts of appreciation, the exhilarating feeling of anticipated joy, or amusing anecdotes for future chuckling.
- Appreciate. Practice gratitude: acknowledge how you came where you are and who has helped you on your current path. Express appreciation to those of merit.
- Reminisce. Every now and then, read back in your journal and reminisce. Make the most of your memories by sharing your happy thoughts and revisiting them often.
7. How distraction prevents you from living in the present
The peculiar thing about distraction is that it’s actually one of our coping strategies. But this coping strategy, shaped around the avoidance of stress or conflict, doesn’t always do us good. For trying to live in the present, distraction will be of no avail. Because if things in the present get difficult, it is distraction that slyly steers away from your concentration. As a result, you’ll get sidetracked and tempted to postpone or procrastinate. Whatever you might be doing instead, you’re not facing the present that you intended to face.
8. Tricks to eliminate distraction
- Size down. Distraction can pop up whenever you are feeling overwhelmed. Chop up whatever you were doing when distraction got the better of you in smaller, easy-to-navigate chunks.
- Set intentions. If you are easily distracted, it might be beneficial to train your mind. Setting intentions and following up on them do just that. Here, you’ll learn the ins and outs of starting an intention-setting practice.
- Timebox. Put a timeframe around any nerve-wracking or annoying tasks you genuinely NEED to do. Do them, be done with them, and get over it. Make sure to leave behind any correlated distracting thoughts in that designated timebox, too.
- Worry differently. This one might come as a surprise, as you are predominantly trying to AVOID any forms of worry. But sometimes, worries just keep popping up in your mind. Slot in 15 minutes of ‘worry time’ every evening, writing down your fears and allotting possible solutions. Save every worry for your worry time, so that the rest of the day, you can live in the present. This way, worry doesn’t get the upper hand.
Checklist: how to live in the present
- Learn to appreciate the here and now so that you’ll be motivated to stay in the present.
- Try to gather awareness of your worrisome thoughts so that you can detect them and proceed to park them.
- Instead, try welcoming more positive thoughts into your mind.
- Indulge in exhilarating anticipation for something big in the future but consider the good things in your current life even more.
- Standing still, reflection, and appreciation are ways to positively cope with anticipation.
- Acknowledge the coping strategy of distraction and skillfully work around its deceitful ways.
- Size down on to do’s, set intentions for more focus, timebox annoying tasks, and designate time to worry. Then dedicate all your remaining time to live in the present.
Want to know more about how to live in the present?
Then you might want to read my post 8 ways to be more present: experience the wonder of here and now. In this post, I share practical exercises and methods to nurture appreciation for your current life. If you’re longing for more personal stories on how to live in the present, Tiny Buddha is my go-to-source. 5 Simple but Powerful Practices for a Happier, More Present Life and How to Really Live In the Moment and Appreciate Life are two of my must-reads on the subject.
Did you enjoy reading this post?
I sure hope you did 🙂 If you have any questions, recommendations, or experiences you want to share, I’d be more than happy to read your thoughts! You can leave your comment in the field below. Do you know someone who could benefit from this guide on how to live in the present? Feel free to share this post (via the URL bar or any of the social share buttons) and get the positive energy flowing!