“I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.” — Albert Einstein
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
Live in the moment. Be present.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it.
Yet most of the time our minds are wandering, and we are either planning for the future or rehashing the past. In fact, a recent Harvard study found that, on average, our minds wander nearly 50 percent of the time.
The benefits of living in the present moment are plentiful.
The only time you are truly alive is in the present moment.
Not in the past. Not in the future.
You live your life only *NOW*.
Being present helps us savor the simple moments of life, calms us down during times of stress, and helps us to be more focused.
Ultimately living in the present moment enables us to become happier and more joyful.
There are so many benefits of living in the present moment, it is no wonder everyone is trying to figure out just how to do it.
So, what can be done?
Well, I asked the experts — 13 of them.
Leading influencers, wellness professionals and best-selling authors share their wisdom on the following question:
What is your best tip for people who want to stop thinking too much about the future and live in the present?
The expert tips I received are both thoughtful and thought-provoking.
Each tip is unique, offering a new perspective that can propel you forward on your journey to present moment living.
Make it the ultimate destination: If you are doing something you consider a means to an end, reframe that activity as an ends in itself. For example, instead of thinking, “I am showering because I am getting ready to go out to dinner” think, “I am showering.” Let the showering be a full, rich experience in itself.
Volumes can be written on how to live in the present and stop worrying about the future. However, if asked to give one tip to make it possible, I’d say you should practice focusing on your breath.
This is an age-old practical tip. Along with the focus on breathing, you should practice to experience each moment using all your senses attentively and intently – observe everything, including your breathing.
Focusing on your breath and experiencing the moment helps you live in the present. This process helps reduce the number of thoughts in your mind, including those about the future.
Also, you should have the understanding that each moment is full of uncertainties – even the future is uncertain. What is certain, is the present moment- the NOW is all that matters. So, we should only think about the present.
Living in the present is the best way to stop worrying about future. You could always meditate, work on coming back to your breath and other things you’ve heard a million times, or try this method my friend Charlie Gilkey suggests, Wiggle Your Toes. I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve tried it and it really does force you to be right here, right now. Charlie says, “Our toes are anomalies from the rest of our bodies, for they’re one of the movable parts of our bodies that we don’t reflexively move or incorporate into the rest of our motion or lack thereof. Our toes are just there, not moving.
Rather than over-thinking this one, trust me and do the following:
- Scrunch your toes up to make a toe fist
- Wiggle them
- Stretch them out
- Focus on moving your big toes without moving the rest of them
- Now do whatever feels right for your toes
Did you notice that you couldn’t really think about anything else while you were actively moving your toes?
Very few people are actually living in the present. They are either thinking about past experiences or what their future may hold.
We have all heard the sentence “You can’t change the past, but you can change the future.”
Even though it’s true. We should focus on actually enjoying life and being present.
If not, you will suddenly wake up when you’re 85 years old thinking about when you were going to start living your life.
We can all agree that being present is important, right?
On the other hand, ignoring to plan your future can turn your life into a disaster.
It’s like blindfolding yourself in the middle of a jungle and charging into the unknown.
So what should you do?
What if I told you that you could plan your future and live in the present?
Let me explain.
Step 1 – Create a plan
– Identify your big hairy goal (DUMB Goal)
– Use what I call The DUMB SMART system, where you break your big hairy goal into smaller manageable goals
– Then you identify the specific activities you need to do every month to achieve your monthly goals
– Put those activities into your to do list (schedule)
When you are not working on your to do list / schedule, you should be present. Let´s jump to…
Step 2 – Live in the present
– Focus on being present. When you are having a conversation, focus on the other person and LISTEN. Forget about planning what you are going to have for dinner, checking your phone or looking at your watch. Be present and people around you will notice it and thank you for a great conversation.
– Use your senses. Go for a walk in the nature. Listen to the birds. Look at the morning dew on the leaves. Touch the leaves and smell it. Heck, you might even want to taste them. Use your senses and you will start to see the amazing world you live in.
– Ask yourself the question: Am I really present now? If not, you will focus on being present again.
Being present takes a lot of energy and it can be challenging. However, the more you do it, the more natural it becomes.
Plan your future and then focus on being present.
Build the future you deserve. You and your family will thank you for it.
You can do it!
One of the things that keeps us from living joyfully is overthinking situations to such an extent we blow them out of proportion and become discouraged. We allow worry to overtake our minds and end up with a feeling of discontent. We let the past color our thoughts and panic about the future.
Instead, practicing mindful living can not only help us enjoy life, but also bring peace and joy. My favorite way is to appreciate the little things and focus consciously on every moment. To do this, I maintain a gratitude journal where I list at least five things that I am grateful for, every day. When I am upset about something, all I have to do is open this journal to see how wonderful my life really is. It lifts my spirits.
Another technique I use is a T chart. When the past bothers me, or when I worry about the future, I take a sheet of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle. On the left, I write “Good” and on the right, I write “Could be better” When I start filling these columns, the number of things in the Good column is far longer than the things that could be better. I feel grateful.
I also practice conscious breathing and meditation and this calms me down and life looks much brighter.
I believe that mindfulness is the best way to keep yourself living in the present. Mindfulness is paying attention “on purpose”. It’s being aware without judgement. Left on its own our mind wanders forward into the future. These thoughts can include worry, anger, disappointment, fear, grief and self pity. You suffer with these thoughts because the future a fantasy.
Let go of that, at least for a little while. Come out of your head and give living in the present a try. Let go of your future thoughts and pay attention to the now without judgment. This creates a stillness and peace in the mind. When using mindfulness in your life you tend to be here now. And now is usually filled with contentment.
Meditation, slowness and tasting while eating, being in nature, really paying attention to your five senses and ordinary moments like brushing your teeth, are the ways I bring mindfulness into my life. Give mindfulness a try. Observe, accept and let go. It’s a positive way to react with your day to day life and keep you in the present.
The best tip for people who are struggling to stay present is to focus on gratitude.
If you’re worrying and thinking too much about the future it’s because you’re directing your attention to what you want instead of what you already have. As soon as you shift your attention to what you’re lucky enough to have right now it becomes much easier to stay present.
Creating a gratitude list or simply pausing and thinking about a few things you’re thankful for is a great way to turn your attention to the now and remove some of the worry from your life.
My best tip for living in the present is to focus on what you’re doing at the moment.
When your mind starts to wander and you start thinking about the future, write down your thoughts and schedule a 15-30-minute window in your calendar for the day. During this time, go through your thoughts and make an action plan for dealing with them.
Using this strategy, you can focus on the task at hand, while at the same time knowing you’ll have time to think things through later on.
People are constantly curious about the steps I took to relinquish control and learn to trust myself.
The majority of what I do is the result of mindful, intuitive living.
I make the majority of my life-choices only after completing a process of tapping into my instinct and listening to what I intuitively know is the correct answer for me.
Develop a daily meditation practice. It is hands down the most direct way to learn to keep your attention in the present, and also learn the mind’s tendencies — the way we fixate on things, the mechanics of emotions, the vast amount of detail to be noticed in the body and the present moment.
You start to recognize “the future” as simply a type of present-moment thought, and you become more comfortable letting life unfold as it will in the present.
I can say without hesitation that taking up Tai Chi was the best choice I ever made. Before I discovered this amazingly powerful practice I was THE most stressed out person you can imagine! Tai Chi is an ancient art that has mindfulness at its core. It is essentially meditation on the move.
Tai Chi teaches us to listen to the body/mind and to start becoming aware of the many tell tale signs of stress that largely go ignored. As we start to rediscover & connect deeply with our body we also find a way of releasing and letting go of stress & tension on so many levels.
When we bring the mind back home to the body we also start to become Present. And in becoming Present we find a way of being completely at Peace with ourselves. We gradually find our way back to live a life through love rather than fear. And what better gift to share with the world around us.
At every point in time, your body is having a present moment and most times you’re missing it.
Think about it. Your body is the center point for all of your experiences, and it’s always living in the present.
Imagine a future experience good or bad and your body is having it in the present – not the future.
The present is where everything is happening so why not spend more time there?
Here’s an easy way to help you do that: curl your toes.
Okay, there’s a little bit more to it than that: 1) curl your toes, 2) take a deep breath, 3) flex your shoulders or give them a roll, 4) take notice of what’s happening with your body, and 5) take one more deep breath and relax.
It’s quick, easy and can be done anywhere! Plus it feels so good!
Make a habit out of spending time with your body in the present, by treating yourself to this practice 6 or more times a day.
My tip would be to learn to be more mindful in daily life. To spend more time in this present moment right here and now instead of the future or past.
One of my favorite ways to reconnect with this moment when I feel I’m drifting into the future is to say this in my mind: No, no, no!
This stop-phrase disrupts my train of thoughts and I usually follow that up with focusing only on my breathing or taking in what is happening around me at this time with all my senses for about 1-2 minutes.
By disrupting the thought and then spending a minute or two on focusing on the air going in and out of my body and nothing else or only on what is around me I become firmly centered in the present moment once again.
Living in the present moment takes practice, but it is possible.
The good news is that we can overcome the habitual thought patterns of our mind. Willpower is like a muscle… over time, with training, we can strengthen our attentiveness to the present moment.
What to do next …?
It is time to get started. Select at least 1 expert tip and try it out today. Getting started just might be easier than you think.
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