It’s hard to stay focused on the present. Whether we get caught up in the mistakes of the past or worry about what the future holds, we are left with one certainty: we aren’t living in the now.
The Importance of Now
Have you ever heard that old saying, “today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present?” Well, it means precisely that. The best gift you can give yourself is to live in the here and now. These are some benefits of doing so:
- Less Stress: It’s a proven fact that focusing on your life right now reduces your stress levels.
- Increased Relaxation: Getting the weight of dwelling on things off your chest can help you enjoy life more.
- Improved Concentration: Yep, removing all that baggage in your thought processes makes you more productive.
- Better Self-Control: Living in the now means you are in better control of your feelings, making tough habits easier to break.
- Greater Happiness: It’s true. People who live in the moment are happier by nature.
Living in the Here and Now
There’s something to be said for focusing on today and only today. So how do you do it? Here are five things worth trying.
Purge the Past
One of the best ways to begin living in the moment is to let go of the past. This could include cutting ties with people that are toxic, tossing out memories that don’t serve you or forgiving yourself or others for past hurts.
Don’t Fret the Future
While it’s essential to plan for and anticipate your future needs, it’s not healthy to dwell on them. Worrying causes you to lose sight of the positive things going on in your life right now. So make that to-do list and have the conversations, but don’t let them become your priority. Give them five minutes of your attention a day and then move on.
Smile every chance you get. Say a few positive affirmations. Keep a gratitude journal. Being aware of the positive things that happen to you each day – as they are happening – is a great way to live in the moment. It also forms positive connections in your brain so that you begin to only have positive thoughts in your past’s file cabinet.
When you catch yourself slipping back into old habits, take a moment to breathe. Count the breaths, focus on what’s right in front of you, smell the smells and see the sights. This will help bring you back into the moment, and that’s pretty much what mindfulness is.
Reimagine Your Routine
Sometimes, just the act of changing things up can put you in a whole new frame of mind. It makes you see things differently and brings you back to the here and now because you have to focus again and you’re not on autopilot. So take a different route to work, change up the order of your shower in the morning, or buy a different brand of coffee.
More Ways to Find the Gift
For more ideas on living in the now, check out Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now, which gives strategies for focusing on the present moment. You can also reach out to various counseling centers if you need further help with coping or learning these strategies. Either way, take the time to take care of yourself.