How to live in the Present Moment
Before we talk about how to live in the present moment, we need to have a talk about the past. More often than not, most of us are driven by the experiences of our past. It makes sense though. Those experiences shaped us during our formative years. They taught us how to be afraid, or how to be strong. What we DO want from our future, and more importantly what we DON’T want.
So how does this affect our lives now? Well, the easiest example would be relationships. You have probably had the not so unique experience of a bad break up. One where everything you know changes. Your ability to trust is now altered, and not just the trust of other people but trust in your own ability to make good character decisions. That one (possibly multiple) experience has a rippling effect on any future relationships or decisions that come your way.
You can’t find happiness overthinking the past.
When we don’t know how to live in the present moment, we tend to frequently relive the bad experiences of our pasts. I believe that’s because we are genetically wired towards survival and protection as human beings. Traumatic experiences leave lasting, sharp, and painful memories that we rehash constantly. This is where overthinking can come in and become a devastating habit. In some ways, it’s the memory of the pain that causes your caution levels to rise. Falling back on your experience of what caused you the pain in a new similar environment. DANGER Will Robinson DANGER!
Anyone who is an overthinker can tell you exactly how exhausting that course of action can be. Never able to make a decision or really trust someone while you try to avoid things that have hurt you in the past. There isn’t any joy to be found in this kind of lifestyle. I’m here to tell you though, you don’t have to live here. Matter of fact, you SHOULDN’T live here! Not if you want to live a life of happiness.
Overthinking the past, or living only for someday, can be a a giant squirrel distracting us from our true purpose and fulfillment!
On the other side of the fence is a little thing we all like to daydream about, the future! Surely dreaming about the future can’t be a bad thing right? Not really. Provided that you aren’t living in the thoughts of that future instead of the present moment. I touched base on this earlier this week in my post Stop Waiting for tomorrow, love yourself today.
If you don’t know how to live in the present moment, you will form very painful cycles. One of these cycles is not living until you’ve reached a goal. Telling myself “I’ll do this as soon as I get to my goal weight”, has been my mantra. Life couldn’t begin until I was perfect. Well, I’m 40 now and I haven’t reached that goal weight. Sadly, I can’t begin to tell you all how much life I’ve missed out on due to waiting for my future me to show up. I’ve passed up good relationships because I didn’t learn to love myself now, feeling I wasn’t at that perfect weight so no one could love me. I have passed up career opportunities or dreams in my life because I was afraid that I wasn’t perfect enough. I wasn’t that person I WANTED to be.
There is no joy in waiting
Waiting for the future you can be just as damaging as letting the past you control your thoughts and actions. There is also no joy in this life. As a matter of fact, this is the habit that builds nothing but regret in your later years. You don’t want to look back at the end of your season and see a long list of life that you never had the courage to live, because you were waiting for a version of yourself that you felt you could love. So what’s the answer then? It’s more simple than you would think. You live, for now, today, the present moment. You find connection with yourself, with others, and you savor it! THIS is how you find happiness in life, and how you fall in love with who you are NOW!
Living in the Present Moment, the 3 easy techniques you can use anywhere!
Here we are, the moment of truth, how to live in the present moment. There are many different ways to achieve this kind of self-awareness. I will be going over a few of them that have worked for me, but I strongly urge you to try multiple techniques and find what really fits for you.
Living in the present moment is where you will find true happiness. It’s the choice you make right now, on how you feel, think and act. Just like any other type of personal growth, it WILL take practice, and a boatload of patience with yourself. When learning how to live in the present moment you will have to change certain behaviors. No more tv/phones when eating with company. Finding time out in your busy schedule for yourself is also very key. Living in the moment requires you to pull yourself out of the past, away from obsessing over the future, and most importantly taking yourself off of autopilot.
How do you bring yourself into focus and create moments in the present to savor? Well, you’re going to have to slow down a bit. For me, I use breathwork, meditation, and a little technique I picked up reading Mel Robbins book the 5-second rule
Breathing for calmness, focus, and anxiety.
This is my go-to for when I’m losing my mind, emotionally spiraling, or having an anxiety attack. I stop wherever I am, as long as I’m in a safe place, close my eyes, and breathe in slowly. I don’t focus on anything else but the feeling of the air filling up my lungs, the sound of it as I inhale, and then slowly exhale. The instant grounding effect this has is powerful. It has the power to pull me from a full panic attack and bring me right back to the present moment. It stops my emotional spirals of self-hatred and negative talk as well.
It can take anywhere from a few long slow breaths, to a good five minutes of breathing like this to calm down and bring me back to this present moment. When I’m done, I feel focused, alive, and present in whatever I am facing. Seriously, I recommend this to ANYONE who struggles with social anxiety, public places, or emotional traumatic spiraling.
I find that using a good guided meditation can often lead my thoughts and intentions into a more present focus. If you are learning how to live in the present moment, guided meditations are amazing! I love the thought process and affirmations that weave through my mind as I focus on the breathing, the intentions I’m focused on. After these sessions, I tend to feel awake and ready to face the day. My concerns about the past, or my obsession of who I will become melt away and create space for me to say “okay I’m here today, what can I do now that will help me find that happiness, love, and sense of achievement”. What makes this even more helpful is how it ties into breathwork. The more you practice meditation, the easier it is to slip into some strong breathwork when you’re struggling out in public.
It’s easy to find meditations to use nowadays. Almost any music streaming platform has meditation or guided meditations for any situation. Youtube is also a never-ending font of guided meditations! Check it out. You can find ones for quick 5 minutes or if you want a longer more in-depth practice 40 minute ones are easy to search as well.
Catch yourself, wake up, and reprogram your brain
I’ve watched a lot of videos and read a lot of books by Mel Robbins. She talks often about the 5-second rule to courage. She also talks about catching yourself, when you start to drift to the past or present or becoming distracted. We have so much power over our own thoughts but often we don’t take control or exercise that power! You can learn how to live in the present moment by catching yourself, waking up and bringing your thoughts back to the here and now!
If you’re interested I’ll link a short video of Mel Robbins talking about catching yourself, bring yourself back to the moment, and how that opens up the potential for happiness to be abundant in your life. It’s definitely worth a watch!
The Bottom Line
If you want to live a life filled with joy and very little regret then you need to learn how to live in the present moment. This takes effort, it won’t happen overnight, but I’m living proof that if you work on it, it CAN happen.
I went from being scared and afraid of making decisions thanks to my past. Not willing to live my life because I haven’t reached my idea of perfection, to living a life that feels full of focus, excitement, and hope. I can tell you that in the past year I’ve learned to handle stress, feel joy, and truly learn that loving who I am now is the key to being truly happy. Truly happy, and free.
Focus on learning how to live in the present moment and watch as the world unlocks around you. You will be amazed! I promise! Until next time my friends, stay safe, stay sane, and remember you aren’t alone out there!
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