How to live in the moment.

I’ve been really focusing on this myself lately. How to stay in the moment. For me, I find that I can very easily get caught up in to do lists and making progress towards goals that I don’t take the time to enjoy the everyday experiences. I can be guilty of rushing through things and then thinking where did the time go? How is that over already. How has another year flown by? When did that building go up, where have I been, why didn’t I notice that new statue. Can you relate to any of this? We get so in our routines and repeat the same processes and behaviors each day that we feel on autopilot. We may even believe the story that we don’t have a choice. We don’t have time to slow down. It is impossible for us to live in the moment. I am here to tell you that none of that is true. It just requires awareness and intention. It requires practice.

So what does all this even mean? To live in the moment?I like the definition I ran across somewhere in my reading once. To live in the moment is to be fully present and aware of the emotions you are feeling and the thoughts you are thinking right at this moment. When you are not present in this moment, you are either looking at your past or fixated on the future. Now we of course use our pasts as a way to learn and grow. And we look to the future for optimism of what we would like to create in our lives. But we often do this consistently to where we don’t know how to just be in the present moment. 

I truly believe that the majority of my problems, issues, hangups can be tied back to my not being mindful. I get lax, I stop following my own plan and protocol and then I wonder why I feel like I am off or out of alignment. 

Let’s get down to the real basics here. What does it look like to not live in the moment? Here are six warning signs you can take note of. See if any resonate with you. 

  1. Nothing seems fun anymore. I used to say to myself, I am not having fun anymore. I don’t know how to experience joy. I now ask myself, what am I doing this for if I cant find any enjoyment?
  2. You think everything has to be a stepping stone to get you to the future you want. The future you believe is going to make you happy. I used to only focus on the results, the destination. Not the journey that gets me there. Those journeys are so full of insight, growth and development. 
  3. You are connected to your devices. I used to not be able to have my phone sitting anywhere but beside me. Which of course made it too easy to constantly reach for it. Talk about a living in the moment stealer. Be mindful of how often you are on a device. 
  4. You struggle to feel connected to people. You have a hard time enjoying in an exchange with people in person. You would rather be alone all the time. You can’t see what there is to gain from having meaningful connections with people. That can even be strangers out in the world that you don’t know. 
  5. You can’t relax and enjoy quiet. This could even manifest itself with a racing brain at night when you should be sleeping. When your brain is trained to be on all the time. It may fight you at night time too. 
  6. You only want to follow the script you are creating in your head. I used to do this. I would script out life How I wanted things to go and what each step of the process should go like. Talk about setting myself up for disappointment. Life is not meant to be scripted. 

So the first step as I always say is awareness. Awareness precedes change. I had to become aware of my not knowing how to live in the moment before I could even begin to use my intelligent brain for ways to change this pattern of behavior. So I started asking myself. Am I enjoying my days? What makes each of my days special or unique? Am I living on autopilot day after day? If I only had limited days left on this earth what would I spend them doing? When was the last time I experienced true joy? What do I want to spend more of my down time doing? What is keeping me from doing more of those things?

I always say this. Ask your brain good quality thought provoking questions and it will try to not disappoint you and come up with some ideas. I ask myself these questions to create awareness. Once I see what is happening, only then can I begin to see the vision for what I might want to change and what change might actually look like. 

 For me taking action to stay in the moment led me to these 4 main areas:

  1. staying mindful – what am I thinking about each day, how am I feeling and what actions am I taking. I know that where I spend my thoughts is what I will often create more of in my life. So I remind myself to journal daily and continually focus on what is most important to me. To focus on goals and what I want to create more of in my life. The only way to stay mindful is to mind your brain. Mind your thoughts. Notice what is going on inside there and make a conscious decision as to whether or not it is serving you. Are you thinking negative thoughts about family and friends this holiday and then wondering why you are dreading those holiday gatherings. Are you already buying in to the toxic thoughts that you will make better choices once January 1st arrives and so you are already self sabotaging the healthy choices you will make at your holiday gatherings? Are you alone this holiday season and so you are slipping into that depression and deciding that drinking is the best idea to get through this holiday?
  2. Noticing my surroundings – I pay attention to more of what is happening around me. To look for the small simple things. Experience your senses. I used to go through each day not noticing anything about my surroundings. Driving the same route day after day, not noticing anything that changed. Distracted hurried driving. Just trying to get to my destination. I now make it a priority to slow down, give myself more time. Look around more. Smile at people more. Talk to strangers more. Show compassion and help others when I can. It has changed so much for me. I try to take daily walks which has really led me to slowing down and enjoying the nature around me more. 
  3. Cutting out the clutter – I rid myself of unnecessary things as well as mental baggage I have been carrying around. I give something my full undivided attention. How often are we trying to multi task and then we don’t do even do the one thing well? Our child wants us to listen to them read a story but we have our phone in our hands at the same time checking email or scrolling social. Cut the clutter. Allow yourself to give one thing your clear and undivided attention. Simplify life. Don’t add stuff you don’t need. Because remember in the end if it all came down to it, all the things that would matter to you are not things. It tends to be loves ones and the experiences we have with them and the memories we make. That can never be taken away from us. The legacy we leave. Rid yourself of unnecessary clutter, whether that is mental baggage or the physical type in your life. 
  4. Practicing gratitude daily – being grateful for all I have keeps me grounded. I try to spend a few minutes every single morning being grateful. It doesn’t matter if it is just for waking up another day and feeling well enough to get out of bed and use my body. I find something each day. Those simple thoughts of gratitude set the tone for my day and it has made such a difference in my life. I will often journal the gratitude thoughts as well and this is really powerful for solidifying what really is important to me. I truly believe it is impossible to not find gratitude for something. No matter how dark of times you may encounter,  there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. 

I hope you were able to be honest with yourself and ask if some of those 6 signs I shared might be telling you that you have some work to do for being more in the moment. And if so, I hope you will write these 4 ideas down that have worked so well for me. Maybe they can get you moving in a new direction. Once you do it for a week, I know you will feel something. Give it an honest try. You and everyone you love are worth it. 

“Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.”

Eckhart Tolle

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