Live in the present
We live in an ultra-fast society. Productivity and busyness prevail over everything. Slowing down seems like an impossible mission. Our daily routines dictate our life and we rarely stop to enjoy the present moment.
We often say: “I can’t wait until the weekend”, “I can’t wait until the payday”, or “I can’t wait until the holidays”. And when these moments arrive, we don’t even appreciate them, we immediately start to think about another future.
Why do we postpone our life as if we had all the time in front of us?
We need to enjoy the present moment, starting from today. We need to adopt it as a way of life.
What is to live in the present?
Living in the here and now implies that you are in touch with everything that happens in that moment. You don’t judge anything. You forget the future and you ignore the past: no worries, no regrets, just the present moment.
To live the present moment doesn’t exclude planning for the future. We can plan our life but we do it by living in the present moment. Everything that we do now will impact that future. In that sense, there is a huge difference between planning and worrying. Alan Watts said: “Making plans for the future is of use only to people who are capable of living completely in the present”.
Observe that big events such as graduation, promotion, and wedding only happen once in a while in our life. If we only base our happiness on those kinds of moments, we will be unhappy most of the time, simply because our lives are mostly filled with a sort of plateau.
We need to learn how to enjoy the plateau, to notice and enjoy the little things along the road. As we do this, we are sure to have a good life because once again, most of our lives are filled with them.
Why we don’t live in the present
Since our childhood, we’ve been conditioned “to prepare to live” and never to live. When we first entered kindergarten, the idea was to get to the first grade, then to the second, the third grade and so on. And this continued until high school then college.
As we graduated, our parents might’ve told us that we are now ready for “real life”, as if what we had prior to that was nothing but a test.
The process doesn’t stop there because in the professional world, there are still ladders to climb and higher promotions to get. And this goes on and on until we finally “earn” retirement.
But is it really “earning”? We are comfortable materially but we neither have the energy nor the time to enjoy it.
In the 5 regrets of the dying, many confided that they spent too much time at work. They regretted not having spent enough time with their children and seeing them grow up.
Sometimes, we even think that the afterlife will be better. If this turns out to be true, it also means that our current life has lesser value; and we stop appreciating what is real instead of what could be.
Every second of our life is precious and invaluable. As we live in the age of consumerism and ultra-productivity, we tend to forget it. We consider the present moment as a burden. When it’s Monday, we can’t wait until the week-end. And when it’s the week-end, we already think about what awaits at work on Monday. So in the end, we don’t even appreciate what we’ve been looking for. The long-awaited weekend is filled with anxieties and worries.
How to better live in the present
It’s important to find meaning to our life. At the end of our life, we might sit or lay on our deathbed wondering what the point of all of this was. I don’t really believe that a meaning will suddenly appear or bump into our road as we get older.
Maybe we don’t find our meaning but create that meaning instead.
To create that meaning, try to seriously ask yourself these questions:
What kind of person do you want to be? And what kind of experience would you like to have? What do you want to acquire in your life? Why are you here and what can you give to others?
The answers to these few questions could guide you.
As we find a meaning to our life, everything that we do in the present moment makes sense and contributes into making that ideal a reality.
Cultivate the present moment
We mentioned earlier that most of our life is filled with plateaus. Unless we learn to cultivate the present moment, our lives would remain boring and tasteless. Remember that it’s not about the destination; it’s all about the journey. Let’s not forget to enjoy the journey as we follow our dreams and commit to achieve them.
So how do you do that?
- Allow yourself some breaks and have appointments with yourself
- Prefer activities that develop peace within you to stressful ones (meditation, exercise, journaling…)
- Enjoy playing with children or helping someone in need
- Observe how children are happy without any reasons, they are simply living the present moment
- Take time to enjoy the little breeze, the sweet taste of your tea or your coffee,
- What are you thinking about right now, is it positive or negative?
- Celebrate the small and pleasant little achievements in life
- Practice gratitude by writing down things you are grateful for
When it is difficult to live in the present moment
What to do if we face challenging situations?
Change your perspective
Storms make trees take deeper roots. —Dolly Parton
The present moment is not always easy to deal with and we rarely choose the challenges that we face. We don’t want to consider these difficulties as opportunities. But sometimes these same challenges hide the biggest lessons in our lives. It’s in this specific time that we need to learn positive thinking and really apply it.
In a moment of adversity, we can just give up or try to take it as a challenge to overcome. We don’t control the situation but we can always control our reactions to it. We always choose our perspective.
It’s in this kind of situation as well that we need to cultivate patience and resilience.
During these unpleasant situations, try to remain observant. You do this as if you are watching a movie. Your current life is projected on a giant screen and you (your consciousness) sit somewhere observing how the movie is unfolding. It means looking at yourself and the situation while asking how you feel physically, emotionally and mentally. As you do this exercise, restrict yourself from any judgments. When we are free from any judgments, we control the situation and even try to learn something out of it.
Nothing is permanent
One last thought about challenging situations: remember that nothing is permanent. Either success or failure, both will not last eternally, sooner or later the other side of the coin will appear so we might as well enjoy whatever is happening.
Imagine that you had an accident and you lost your two hands. Blaming will not help you plant other limbs. Maybe it will give you a sense of relief in the moment. But we can’t blame everything, eternally.
On the contrary, blaming or accusing anyone will consume and waste our energy.
It’s ridiculous to fight against something we have no control over. Sooner or later we must learn to accept that what is, is. When we accept, we stop fighting and this gives us power.
In the end only memories remain
In the end, only good memories remain. Learn how to let go of the past, live now and be happy! Sitraka