Living in the present can help you live a more fulfilling life. It involves being aware of what is happening in the here and now. Many of us spend time living in the past or thinking about the future. We get so caught up in what was or what could be that we forget to live in the present moment.
Research shows that we’re less happy when our minds wander.
It’s normal for us to feel overwhelmed by everything going on in life; however, we do ourselves a disservice by spending too much time anywhere but here. Life is to be embraced and experienced fully.
Benefits of Living in the Present
- You’ll be able to enjoy life as it is without worrying about what has yet to come.
- Your relationships will improve by being present and making deeper connections.
- You have more control of your mind once you stop allowing your thoughts to overwhelm you.
If you’re wrapped up in your thoughts, wondering how you can start living in the present, here are actionable steps you can take today to shift your mindset.
How to Start Living in the Present
Mindfulness meditation helps you slow down racing thoughts and live in the present by focusing on one specific thing such as your breath.
You can start by closing your eyes and beginning to breathe. Pay attention to how your chest and stomach rise and fall with each inhalation and exhalation.
It’s normal for your mind to wander during meditation. When this happens, take a moment to notice your thoughts then bring your attention back to your breath.
Doing this for 5-10 minutes a day then working your way up to longer periods of time can be highly effective at calming the body and mind.
2. Practice Gratitude
Take time to express how grateful you are for how good life is. Practicing gratitude helps you feel more positive and offers a sense of appreciation for where you currently are in life.
Some ways you can practice gratitude are by keeping a journal of what you’re grateful for (here are our favorite gratitude journals), speaking what you’re thankful for out loud, or simply expressing to someone how much you appreciate them.
Over time, writing or speaking about what you’re grateful for changes your perception of situations because you’re focusing on the good. You’ll be reminded of all the positive things going on around you.
Gratitude also helps reduce toxic thoughts and emotions. If you’re struggling with staying present, give this practice a try.
3. Try Yoga
Yoga helps you live in the moment because as you move through different poses, you’re focusing on your breath. It deepens your connection with both your mind and body, and if a pose is too strenuous, you simply breathe through it.
Yoga trains your mind to listen to the body. Concentrating on which pose you’re attempting requires you to be present.
Examples of yoga poses you can try include:
- Downward facing dog - Place your hands on the floor and lift your hips into the air. Lengthen your back and keep the heels of your feet pressed into the floor.
- Bridge pose - Start by lying on your back and bending your knees. As you inhale, left your hips so that they are no longer on the ground.
- Mountain pose - Stand up tall with your feet together, lift your chest, shrug your shoulders up towards your ears then roll them down and back.
- Child’s pose - Start with your knees and hands on the floor then bring your big toes together so that they’re touching. Next, sit back on your heels and lower your stomach to the ground. Finally, extend your arms out in front of you.
Trying these yoga poses will help you feel more centered and aware.
4. Let Go of Worries
This is honestly easier said than done. Releasing your worries can alleviate anxiety and stress that comes along with being stuck in the past or future.
That being said, there are times where looking back over the past or planning for the future can be a good thing. It becomes a problem when you’re obsessing and worrying constantly.
One thing that can help with releasing worries is journaling. Keep a journal where you write about everything going on in your mind and weighing on your heart. You can write as much or as little as you need to.
Writing is an effective way to let go because it allows you to work through what you’re struggling with.
If you’re new to journaling, read our guide: 10 Journaling Tips for Beginners
5. Take A Walk in Nature
Spending time in nature reminds you of how beautiful life is.
Take a 10-20 minute walk to reconnect with the present. During your walk, listen to the sounds around you like cars passing by or birds chirping. Inhale deeply as you breathe in the fresh air.
Walk slowly and pay attention to how your feet feel hitting the pavement. Take in your surroundings as you touch the trees nearby. Being in nature can reduce stress levels and makes you feel better emotionally.
It’s no secret that unplugging is good for your mental health. Studies show 75% of Americans spend over three hours a day looking at a screen. Taking a break from your devices allows you to stay present because it gives you a chance to enjoy life.
Some ways to unplug include:
- Logging out of social media.
- Use “do not disturb”.
- Turn off all notifications.
- Leave all your devices in a different room.
Disconnect to reconnect.
7. Embrace Your Inner Child
As adults, we’re so busy with work, school, and caring for our families that we forget to enjoy ourselves. Our inner child is the younger version of us that still lives within us. They’re the source of our creativity and playful nature.
Carve out time in your day to play and have fun. You can do this by setting a playdate for yourself. This might look like going to a park, riding a bike, getting ice cream, or even painting.
The goal is to have fun by doing things your younger self loved to do. You may feel a little silly at first, but playing and getting in touch with your inner child is a great way to be in the here and now.
8. Forgive Past Hurts
Forgiving those who have wronged you won’t take away the pain completely, but it’s a step in the right direction. Harboring resentment can leave you stuck in a cycle of negativity, while choosing to forgive frees up room in your heart for love.
When we forgive, it’s not for the other person, it’s for ourselves. Choosing to hold onto past hurt means you’re still living there. Letting go and moving forward keeps you living in the moment.
9. Let Go of Fear
Fear can hold us back from so much. Think about how much easier life would be if we surrendered and let go of our fears.
There may be something you’ve been wanting to do but there’s a voice in your head telling you that you can’t. This voice is crippling and can be the driving force behind stopping us from chasing after our dreams. Facing your fears looks like not allowing anything to hold you back.
Be so determined to get to where you’re going that nothing stands in your way. When thinking about staying present, learning to work through your fears should be on your list.
Quotes About Living in the Present
Here are a few quotes to inspire you to live in the present:
Life is a journey, not a destination.
You can’t go back to how things were. How you thought they were. All you really have is...now.
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.
The only time you ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feel anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.
The more I give myself permission to live in the moment and enjoy it without feeling guilty or judgmental about any other time, the better I feel about my quality of work.
Are You Living in the Present?
The past is only a memory so don’t live there. You can spend time thinking about those memories without it becoming overwhelming. As far as the future goes, there’s no point in living there because it hasn’t happened yet.
Yes, you can plan for the future but don’t over do it. Don’t become so wrapped up in what was or has yet to come that you forget to embrace what is. Life is amazing when we appreciate it.
If you’re stuck living anywhere other than the present, utilize these tips in your everyday life. Remember not to rush the process as it takes time to successfully build positive habits. Take it one step at a time to ensure you make lasting change.