It’s time to break down the barriers in your thinking that are keeping you from being able to live your life, to be present. You don’t need another program or another list of to-dos. You simply need a shift in your mindset.
Let’s break away from the misunderstandings that have held you where you are and begin to find the life that you desire to live.
Today you will learn:
- What it means to live in the present and why it matters
- How to get out of your head and begin living in the moment more each week
What does it Mean to Live in the Present?
Living in the moment is not some sort of license to not be responsible and just follow your whims at any given moment. Quite the opposite. Not living in the moment is what, in actuality, is following your natural impulses.
Living in the present moment means not dwelling in the past or worrying about the future. Living in the present simply means being fully alive, being where you are.
The Present Moment is the Only Thing
Why live in the present? Because it is, in reality, all you have. That the present moment is all you have is a sobering, albeit accurate statement. It requires a shift in your thinking. You do not have anything beyond or before this present moment.
Yesterday is gone, and you may never get tomorrow. Don’t presume that you have everything under control and you know what tomorrow is going to bring. You can make plans and say you will do this or that, but the truth is that you have no idea if you will even be here.
Even your possessions. You can use them right now, but you came into the world naked, and you will leave it just the same, with nothing. So, you don’t even have the things you own except for at the present moment. How many people have fallen into despair at losing the wealth or power they have spent their lives attaining because they missed this reality.
What do you have?
And what about your body? Have you ever taken the time to think about how fragile your life is? How many systems are continually running to keep you alive? The smallest possible disturbance to any one of these systems can end your life so quickly. Think about it.
So then, what do you have? Take the time to ponder this, and you will find that everything beyond right now is presumption.
The only way to be able to live your life fully present where you are is to begin with the correct understanding.
Why You Can’t Be Present in the Moment
It is natural to dwell in the past or the future, regret or worry. The keyword here is natural, or what occurs without effort.
Your mind, left to itself, will swing back and forth between the two and keep you from being able to be present in your life.
The struggle that we face to just be present is at the core of our humanity. It is a part of being human, but it’s also been exacerbated by bad ideas and teachings that tell us to follow our hearts, dream big dreams, do what we feel, be who we are (without any need to alter that natural person), and so on.
These ideas sound nice, but, in reality, they lead us to enslavement to the natural mind, which leads to all sorts of negative feelings and, by extension, unwanted actions.
Do you want to know how to quickly identify if you are living in the present or not? How do you feel? Are you anxious, discontent, overwhelmed, depressed, ashamed, afraid? Are you are at this moment in a life-threatening situation? If not, you are either dwelling on the past or the future.
If the problem is being controlled by your natural mind, then what is the solution?
One word. Discipline.
How to be present, Be in this moment
If your undisciplined mind is going to move to the past or the future naturally, then something must be done to undo that which is natural. You must discipline your mind to live in the moment. In actuality, discipline is the answer to most struggles in all areas but is not exactly what we want to hear. 🙂
There is a catchphrase “discipline equals freedom” and, like most phrases, sounds nice, but you need to have practical steps to attain said freedom, right?
So here are some practical steps to discipline your mind so you can be free from the constant regret or worry or discontentment.
Learn to Pay attention
First, you have to learn to pay attention. Did you even know attention is a discipline?
In fact, it is The Discipline.
Attention is a must for doing anything you want to do with your life, accomplish anything.
The first step toward disciplining our minds and learning to live in the present is paying attention.
Pay attention to your thoughts so you can train yourself to recognize when your mind is wandering, and you can begin to come back and stay present.
Gaining control of our attention is much much harder than it may sound, especially if you are used to just going along with your thoughts. So you need to know that it will take a lot of time and you will find yourself stumbling back to normal often.
Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. Struggles are a part of being human— our collective experience. They plague us all.
The difference is what you choose to do with it. Do you just continue to float along and never really have a say, or do you decide to do the hard work to change?
Pay attention to your feelings. Is whatever you are feeling relevant to what is happening in your current circumstances? Not out there in the world, but right here where you are right now.
Turn off the screen and look around you. Focus. Be present. If you have nothing but what you can see from where you are sitting, what is the appropriate feeling in response to your actual life at this moment? Is there an immediate danger in the physical space in which you are inhabiting? If not, then what in this present moment is realistic as far as your feelings are concerned? Do you have your needs met at this current moment? Is everything you can control, namely yourself, in hand?
If you are feeling things that do not reflect what is happening right now, then you are most likely dwelling in the past or dreading the future.
Do you have a house repair that needs doing? Do you have the means to deal with it at this moment? Then do it. Otherwise, it is something that exists in the future. It doesn’t need to be consuming your thoughts or causing feelings beyond this moment.
Does your spouse or that child get on your nerves? Are they doing something right now? Are you able to ask for it to be stopped or walk away or deal with whatever is in you that allows that thing to be a bother? If so, do it. Don’t let your mind wander to the past and “if only” or get caught up in a dream world where these problems wouldn’t exist. Be where you are and with who you are and grow up and deal with it.
Are you struggling financially or physically? Are you at this moment starving or dying? If not, then you are worried about what is not here yet and missing the reality of the right now in your life.
Once you learn to pay attention and recognize your thoughts and feelings, then you can begin to start practicing getting out of your head and fully be where we are. You can start to see how fretting over possibilities or overplanning for the future or giving up because of past mistakes is stealing away your life.
Stop planning for the future, and do what you need to do today. Plans and dreams and goals are all fine and good. Still, if you’re stuck in always preparing and never doing or perpetually dreaming and never attaining, then you are getting nowhere, and you’re missing what you have.
Get Out of Your Head and Into Reality
Life is what is happening right now, not what will happen in the future. We’ve already touched on how that’s presuming that you will be here at that time in the future, which you simply cannot know. If you keep focusing there, then you will miss the now, and that will later add to the regret over the past in which you did not discipline yourself and live. Tragic.
Don’t add to your regret by being caught up in your thoughts and resulting feelings and avoiding what’s currently happening around you. Even if you think it’s not what or where you wanted to be, dreaming about being somewhere different will do nothing to alter your current situation. It will only keep you bound to the whims of your natural mind.
Instead of fantasizing about that perfect life, discipline yourself to be where you are and do something beautiful with it.
Benefits of Living in the Present Moment
If living in the past or the future brings fear, anxiety, shame, worry, etc. then living in the present will be the antidote to those feelings.
Being in the present will bring joy and peace. Why? Because you are letting go of the hold of the past and the need to control the future.
You will be able to focus on what you need to be doing at any moment to enjoy the life you have and continue to move toward the life you want.
What is it that you desire? What you do with this moment and each moment hereafter will be what you get in the future, barring you make it there.
Therefore, you must make every effort possible to pay attention, discipline your mind, and stay in the present. This way, you will live the fullness of your life, whatever may come.