Living in the present is a goal most people have tried to re-commit to, but it’s a lot easier said than done. Most of us spend a lot of our time reflecting on the past (the good and the bad) and planning or worrying about the future. The ability to live in the moment is rare, and it takes a lifetime of practice. Rare are the times we’re truly aware of the awesome moments as they unfold. It’s why most people say their wedding day and other major events “fly by.” Fortunately, for some events, we know how important it is to have photographs and videos. Hence the massive wedding industry advertisements. It’s great to preserve those memories, but they’re still in the past.
How can we actually stay in the present moment on a daily basis?
Here are five habits to help you hone present-moment living and shake off the negativity that can come with trying to live in the present or future:
1. Actively take note of what’s happening at the moment.
Tapping all your senses including the tastes, smells, textures, what you hear and what you see is one of the best ways to pull yourself back to the present. It isn’t easy. However, the influx of experiential marketing showcases that as humans we’re hungry for full-sensory experiences. We’re so used to just energizing a few senses that the others are desperate for attention. Throughout the day, take note of what your senses are discovering, and you’ll be whisked back to the present.
2. Try meditation.
Meditation isn’t easy and “true meditation” means you’re living in the moment with zero to minimal distractions. There’s a reason meditation guides will so often remind you that, “If you feel yourself getting distracted, simply acknowledge it and bring yourself back.” We’re both in need of more sensory experiences and always trying to distract ourselves. Meditation doesn’t require any special equipment, and you don’t need to force yourself to sit for hours in vain. A few minutes per day, preferably in the morning and night, is a great help. There are also countless tools from candle gazing to guided tapes.
3. Tackle your technology addiction
Most of us struggle with some form of technology dependence. Download an app that keeps track of how often you check your phone to give yourself a reality check. Make a pact with loved ones that when you’re together during certain events, such as dinner or a date, phones are on airplane mode. Technology is a major distraction and can do more harm than good when we depend on it too much. How can you lessen technology usage in your life?
4. Get in touch with nature.
Whether you live in a metropolitan or a rural area, you’ll be able to find green spaces that help you get centered. Check out parks, nearby trails, or take short day trips to the great outdoors. Forest bathing is a way of connecting with nature on a deeper level. Leave the phones at home and make yourself aware of the awesomeness of your surroundings. Nature is a natural antidote to living in the past or future.
5. Start writing.
Whether it’s starting a journal or writing a handwritten letter to surprise a loved one, writing forces our brain to focus and slow down. Our brains tend to work faster than our hands, which is why so many studies have shown that writing things down helps us remember them better than typing. For a double whammy, write positive affirmations and work towards cognitive reconditioning of your self-talk. Penmanship is also a fading skill, and if we don’t use it, we lose it. Focusing on bettering penmanship is an easy, accessible, and fruitful goal that also has calming and meditative properties.
Living in the present isn’t a resolution that requires waiting until the New Year. Know that you’ll slip up, but making it an active goal on a daily basis will get you closer to living a calmer, more joyful life. What can you do right now to make the most of this moment?
Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.
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