I am sure all of you have read numerous posts regarding “living in the present” or the “power of now”. This topic has been covered by just about every self help author, guru, motivational speaker out there, so my plan here today is not to regurgitate all of the benefits of living in the moment, but to instead offer the best advice on how to experience this feeling, which is a topic that I feel is rarely covered.
To start, I think we can all agree that the present moment is the only reality out there and that the past and future are simply constructs of your mind. Even when you are recalling the past or envisioning the future, you are doing it in the present. It further goes to reason that to really experience happiness, it needs to happen in the present.
Far too many people put happiness off in the future, with thoughts like “I will be happy when…” or “Once this happens, I will be happy”. The problem with this line of thinking is that you are spending all of your present moment worried about the future, leaving no room to actually experience the happiness that you are after. All this does is throw you into an endless loop of wishing and waiting, never really getting what you set out for. A good way to picture this is the classic image of the rabbit chasing after the carrot on a stick. All that rabbit needs to do is stop chasing and grab the carrot!
The Quickest Ways to Jump to the Present
Now that we can agree on the benefits of present mindedness, lets get into how to actually experience this blissful experience. I confess, that I like most people often get trapped into thinking about the past or worrying about the future. Because of this, I work daily on focusing my mind of getting out this cycle and focusing on the present.
The best technique I have discovered is to simply write every thing down! I have found that the reason so many people are caught up in thinking (especially about the future) is that the feel the need to constantly remind themselves of their daily schedule, needs, to do’s, etc. Why not rid your mind of all this worry by simply dumping it onto a list somewhere? Its such a simple process that takes seconds, but gives you a whole day of therapeutic relief!
Now there are endless ways to use this technique, but the easiest way I have found is to simply make a quick list early in the morning of everything I need to know or accomplish for the day. Once I have that list complete, I purge all of those items out of my mind. To take it even further, I will often have set times when I refer back to the list. For example, I will tell myself that I am going to check the list at noon, 4pm, and then once again in the evening. This again allows me to completely relax and not worry about worrying about whats on that list! More importantly, it takes my mind off of the future and gives me precious time so simply enjoy the present moment.
The second technique I have found that works really well is to take short intervals throughout the day (5-30 seconds) to focus your mind on the present. A common trick the mind plays on you is to reinforce the belief that you don’t have time to focus on the present with everything going in your day. It’s as if your mind is constantly telling you “we don’t have time to enjoy the present, we have so much to worry about!!”.
This can be a very strong feeling to fight, so the best way to combat this is to accept it to some extent, but sneak in short intervals of present focus. The best times to do this is when you are occupied with something that doesn’t require a lot of thinking such as doing the dishes, folding laundry or taking a shower. These are times when your brain is typically occupied with thinking about the past or future.
So when you find yourself in one of these situations, sneak in a quick session where your block everything out and simply focus on the present. Even its for only a few seconds, it will be well worth the break and reinforce the therapeutic benefits to your physical self. By doing this repeatedly throughout the day, you are essentially telling your brain “You see, this isn’t so bad! It actually feels pretty good.” If you are consistent with this technique after a few days you will find yourself doing this exercise automatically to the point where it becomes second nature.
My suggestion is to set a specific goal that you keep you on track. So for example, tell yourself, you are going to have at least three focus sessions per day, of 5-30 seconds each, for two weeks straight. This will further ensure that you stay on track.
That is all for today, I hope you find value in these two techniques I have outlined. As always, please feel free to leave comments or questions for anything that is on your mi