I’ve always lived with my head in the clouds. The real world is a big, ugly, scary place. It’s easy to get hurt. So, I’d seek refuge in my fantasies and dreams, oblivious to what was going on right in front of my nose.
Then, the internet came along. And smartphones. And social media. All distractions that make it even harder to live in the present moment.
Living in the present is one of my biggest goals right now. The past is gone, forever. The future’s not here yet. The present is all we have. And we can’t enjoy it to the full if we don’t even notice it’s happening.
Living in the present also reduces stress. Too often we worry about things that haven’t even happened yet, and may never happen. Focusing only on the here and now, the present moment, helps us see things from a different, calmer perspective. It makes us realise that, right now, there’s nothing to worry about. Right now, we’re safe.
But, in a world full of chaos, fear, and distractions, how do we learn to live in the present moment? Here are five ways to help you:
1. Turn Off The Phone (And Computer, And Tablet…)
I used to check my emails first thing in the morning, even before showering. During breakfast, I’d check out my Twitter and Pinterest feeds for any interesting updates I may have missed during the night. And then, I’d check both at regular intervals during the day.
Until I realised I almost spent more time aimlessly scrolling through social media and checking emails than working. Now, when I write, everything (bar my laptop of course!) is turned off. I schedule time for social media and emails, and stick to it. That way, I’m still updated and have more time to live, and enjoy, my life (and get some work done too).
2. Let Go
I’m always thinking about what could possibly go wrong, seeking refuge in my happy mental place at the first sign of discomfort, that I often don’t realise there’s nothing to fear in the present.
What makes me uncomfortable and afraid is the memory of past bad experiences. Or my prejudices and assumptions about something I haven’t even tried yet.
That’s when I remind myself that a bad experience in the past doesn’t mean it’ll happen again. And I have no way of knowing how something will turn out if I don’t try it.
When I let go of my past emotions and memories, assumptions, and prejudices, and just focus on what I’m feeling and experiencing at the moment, I realise there’s nothing to be scared of.
The present is almost never dangerous. When you give it a chance, it can be pretty exciting.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Learning to focus completely on the present moment is a skill that can be easily learned. Carve minutes at the beginning or end of every day to practice it.
Just focus on your breathe as you inhale and exhale. Or the sensations your body is feeling. Or one particular part of your body. Or an object. Whatever it is, really look at it. Feel it. Taste it. Explore its every part. Its every detail.
Don’t worry if your mind starts wandering. It’s perfectly normal. Just bring your attention back to what you’re observing. Do it often enough, and it’ll soon become natural.
4. Be More Spontaneous
I’m not spontaneous by any stretch of the imagination. I like to know what’s gonna happen and plan everything in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises. But you can’t plan everything. And life is more interesting when you don’t, anyway.
That’s why I’m trying to be more spontaneous. To say yes more often, even if I have no idea how something is gonna turn out or if I can even pull it off. Or change my schedule at the last minute, even just to go for a walk because I feel like it. It’s all about making the most of the present moment.
5. Declutter Your Home
Our environment affects the way we feel. When our living room is cluttered, the kitchen full of dirty plates to wash, and the bedroom a mess, it’s hard to concentrate. Our mind just keeps going back to that chaos and the time and work it’ll take to sort it all out.
My bedroom also serves as my office and, sometimes, living room. I make sure to keep it as decluttered as possible. When I’m done with something, I put it back in its place. And I try not to buy anything I don’t absolutely need or love.
It was quite a change for a former hoarder like me, but now my living space is tidy and clean, I feel so much calmer and more peaceful.
What do you do to stay more present?