How to Live in the Moment

E.B. Johnson

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by: E.B. Johnson (Image via Twenty20.com)

It isn’t easy to live in the moment — especially not in today’s society. We’re forced to look to the future in eager anticipation, but we’re all still stuck in the past where so much pain still lurks. If we truly want to be happy, then we have to break out of both these states. Learning to be present where we’re at is how we maximize our learning and maximize our ability to thrive in the modern world.

How learning to live in the moment can help us.

Learning to be present where we’re at is a powerful tool. It helps us to eliminate stress, and it encourages creativity. It can also help us better appreciate our lives and the good things that we have in it (no matter how small). When we’re present, we improve our social skills, our relationships, and increase our confidence in the bargain too.

Increasing confidence

It’s really hard to be confident and self-assured when you’re worried about what’s coming tomorrow (or still struggling with what happened yesterday). We increase our confidence by learning how to be powerful right where we’re at — regardless of what our past, or our future, throws at us. When you are present in the current minute, you can face things head on and resolve them; instead of avoiding and waiting to see how things pan out.

Decreasing anxiety

Being grounded in the moment is a great way to decrease anxiety. Are you someone who is always worrying about what’s around the corner? Do you obsess over the future and everything you may (or may not) get wrong in it? While we certainly have to look to the future and make plans, obsessing over it is unhealthy. When you look too much into the future, you increase your worry and make it harder to see and understand how you’re feeling right now.

Enhancing creativity

Believe it or not, becoming more present can help to enhance your creativity. It’s hard to flex your creative muscles when you’re dwelling on the past or worried about the future. We have to be in a place of peace to find the energy to act on our creativity, and that’s something that comes when you focus on the current moment. Want to be more creative at work? In your relationships? Or your everyday life? Embrace the power of presence.

Getting more out of life

You get more out of your life when you learn how to live more often in the moment. That’s because you notice more and experience more of what’s going on around you. You get analyze your feelings and question what you like and don’t like about everything you’re going through. Want to get more out of your life? Want to rediscover fun or quiet peace? It happens when you learn how to be still right where you are.

Easing relationships

Although it’s a side effect we rarely consider, being more in the moment can help increase the playfulness and pleasure in our lives. It’s easier to have fun when you’re not worrying over the future or ruminating over the past. This increased playfulness is so good for our relationships. It encourages us to communicate better and helps to enhance bonding on several levels. Whether your relationships are platonic or romantic, presence is a boon.

Increasing appreciation

To be present is to increase both your awareness and your appreciation of the things you have. Think about it. If your mind is always looking back over the things that happened — or worrying about all the stuff yet to come — you never really have the ability to look around at where you’re at. You miss important milestones with your family, friends, and even your work. You miss out on your own growth and important lessons that could help you thrive.

The best ways to be more present every day.

Do you want to increase your ability to live in the moment? Do you want to be more present and grounded where you’re at? Rooting ourselves in greater present-moment focus happens by taking small steps every day. When we limiting our negative thinking and do a little more thinking before moving forward — we end up with a recipe for a happier life and future.

1. Pay attention to your body

Although we think of being present as an exercise of the mind, it’s an exercise of the body as well. Being present in the body is an important part of being present in your life. You need to regularly take time to assess how you’re feeling and look for any signals your body may be sending. Do you stop to question your physical needs as often as your mental needs? This break can be exactly what we need to slow down and meet our needs holistically.

Be more present in your body. Listen to it and all the messages it’s trying to send you. Is your body aching? Is it struggling in certain areas or falling apart with various pains? Our physical bodies play into our happiness greatly. Hear the messages it’s seeking to give you, because there’s always a message behind the misbehavior.

To enjoy life, we have to enjoy being in our bodies. That means finding comfort in our skin and finding peace in the experiences it provides us with. Stop regularly to check in with your physical self; don’t just stay lost in the ethereal world of the mind. Question it. Give it nourishment. Create space to care for it and allow it to recharge its batteries. The more attention and appreciation your physical body gets, the better.

2. Stop before you move on

Our society moves fast. As soon as one task is accomplished, we’re encouraged to rush off to the next. It’s always about the next achievement. We’re pressured to go after the next best relationship, the next best step in our careers. It’s go, go, go. But this drive to constantly push ourselves prevents us from being happy in our present lives. You can’t be present if you’re always pressing yourself to dive into the next experience. It’s necessary to stop, take a beat, and process before you move on.

Before you move on to that next task, that next job, that next relationship — take a second and stop running. Don’t just immediately into your next project. Instead, take a deep breath and take a step back. Reflect on what you just experienced and consider what you may have learned.

Rushing headlong into the next “thing” might feel like productivity, but it’s not as if you’re not processing what came before. You have time to take a beat. Don’t let the narrative that society has built fool you. Stop rushing into the next experience before you’ve fully allowed yourself to feel the one you’ve just completed. What did you learn? How did the experience leave you emotionally? All of these things matter and they culminate to create a better life and a happier future overall.

3. Limit your rumination

Rumination is a toxic habit and one that we fall into when we spend too much time living in the past. Do you have a lot of pain in your past? Is there heartache and trauma that hasn’t been resolved? Allowing this pain to linger can prevent you from being present where you’re at. Negative thinking pulls us in and holds us back from focusing on our current lessons and the things we want from our future. Until you let these things go, appreciating what you have now is hard to do.

Stop your rumination in its tracks and stop letting it take over your mood and your life. This type of ultra-negative thinking is overwhelming and it can become addictive too. Unless you want to end up in a world of negativity, you need to get ahead of your rumination and stop it before it takes over.

Has this powerful negativity already overwhelmed you? Don’t expect to break out of your negative patterns overnight. Get out of your nasty habit just like you got into it — little by little. Limit your rumination if you can’t stop it. When you feel the bad thoughts coming on, give yourself a time limit and don’t cross the line. Let yourself feel the feelings (and question where they come from). When time is up, distract yourself and walk away from the negativity, no matter what.

Putting it all together…

Being present is one of the hardest skills we master, but it’s one of the most important. We are a society obsessed with the future and always looking back at the past. Focusing on the past can lead to major negativity, though, especially when it comes to our emotional states and the positivity we’re trying to build in the future. Want more peace and stability in your life? Learn to be present and take action to ground yourself in that presence each and every day.

Limit your rumination. Don’t allow yourself to slide back into those negative thoughts and negative memories that hold you back and keep you fearful. Living in the present requires that we separate our future and our past from the right now. Pay attention to your body and listen to the warning signs it sends you. Show more gratitude for yourself, your abilities, and all the good things in life. When we can love where we’re at, it becomes easier to be present in that moment — and that’s powerful. Get some space from social media and all the pressure that comes with living a digital life. Focus on where you’re at right this second. Before you move on to the next big thing, stop and take a breath. What did you learn? How did that experience make you feel? Question where you were before you ride off into the future.

  • Lin, H., & Epstein, L. H. (2014). Living in the moment: Effects of time perspective and emotional valence of episodic thinking on delay discounting. Behavioral Neuroscience, 128(1), 12–19. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0035705

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Writer. Host. Certified coach. Host of the Practical Growth Pod. Master Practitioner NLP. Get all my books and resources at the link below.

Pelham, AL
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