In an age where we’re more and more distracted, it’s important to be more and more present. I was reading an article had a great story on living in the now.
A man went to Burning Man, which is an electric arts and music festival, and saw a phone booth with a sign that read “Talk to God.”
Anyone could pick up the phone and hear a response on the other end to soothe their pain. The man picked up the phone and the voice asked how they could help.
The man expressed he wanted to know how to live more in the moment and be less anxious. The voice on the other end told him to breathe.
At first the man felt skepticism, but reminded himself to be open-minded. The voice instructed him to breathe anytime he thought about the future or past.
As the voice instructed the man to breathe in and out, he began to relax.
Separate yourself from your thoughts
Life is here and now. It’s the present. Our problem is we spend much of our time letting it slip away. We waste our moments worrying about the future or struggling to let go of the past.
We’re also always doing something. We don’t take as much time to just be still and experience calmness.
Instead, we go down the rabbit hole of so many different thoughts. You’re working but thinking about going on vacation, or you’re going on vacation and worrying about work.
We don’t appreciate the present moment we’re experiencing. Rather than being aware of our thoughts, we allow ourselves to be controlled by our thoughts.
It’s essential to take time to pause and just rest our minds and bodies. Not just in our sleeping moments, but in our waking moments as well.
Giving yourself a time where you’re not focusing or doing. A time where you’re just being present. The idea of being present is often associated with mindfulness.
Being mindful with our thoughts means you observe them, but you don’t judge them. You accept them as they come and realize that they’re not a reflection of you unless you choose them to be.
Research has shown that being mindful is useful for reducing stress, reducing pain, improving sleep, and improving our well-being overall.
Among the psychological benefits that have been theorized we can experience include mental clarity, self-control, and increased kindness with one’s self and others.
All of these and other benefits could potentially help you in a variety of areas in your life, whether it’s improving yourself or improving your relationships.
Through putting in the time to practice, you can improve your ability to focus more on the now. Here are 15 other ideas that can potentially help you be present.
1. Let go of unnecessary possessions
When you practice minimalism, it helps you to be present by getting rid of items associated with the past.
You surround yourself more with what brings you joy right now, helping you stay more focused on the now.
2. Choose to smile more
Rather than letting your worries control your attitude, you can shape it by beginning your days with a smile.
As I noted in my how to be happy article, studies have shown that smiling can increase our feelings of joy.
3. Forgive those who’ve hurt you, including yourself
Any pain you’re holding on only holds you back from appreciating your present. You can choose to forgive and move on rather than hold on to resentment.
When we hold on to hurt, we continue to let it do harm to us long after the event has passed. As difficult it is, forgive others and forgive yourself.
Let go so you can make room to focus on the life around you that you can still enjoy.
4. Appreciate all of your sensory experience
We often forget how much of a blessing it is to see all the colors around us. We forget how beautiful it is to hear the birds outside.
Take moments throughout your day to really take in what you’re experiencing. Everything from the good and even the bad.
Really experience and feel what you’re experiencing and feeling in this moment.
5. Work hard for your future dreams
The hard work you put in today helps you get to the big dreams you have for tomorrow.
Write down your goals, put together a plan, and then do the work. Be more present by being more productive.
6. Enjoy the job you do
We may not all be doing the dream job we’re doing yet, but it doesn’t mean we still can’t find something about our work to enjoy.
Instead of focusing on the weekend or your next vacation, practice finding little things to appreciate in your day-to-day grind.
7. Break free from worry
8. Be active in pursuing success
When you accomplish something yesterday, that’s great. Appreciate it for that moment. But as a new dawn arises, it’s important to focus on new things to achieve.
Build on the momentum of your previous successes so there will be more achievements to appreciate in the future.
9. Overcome addiction
Addictions distract us from so much present joys around us that we could focus on.
While addictions aren’t easy to deal with, you can find help and hopefully be on the pathway of overcoming it.
10. Look for new solutions in life
It’s important not to stay stuck in the past by doing what you’ve always done to accomplish things.
Be in the now by always adapting to the changes in society to find new ways to be successful in life.
11. Notice the ordinary things you ignore every single day
These days with people staring at screens most of the day, it’s hard for anything to catch our attention anymore.
You’re focused on the next news item, Instagram photo, or whatever other internet update our brains have been trained to hunger for.
You can be more present today by just stopping and noticing the ordinary things.
The designs on a hardwood floor or the patterns on a piece of cloth.
Consistently focus on every little ordinary thing that you wouldn’t normally text someone about.
12. Do activities that leave you little time to think
Another thing technology does is it makes us pretty inactive. We’re stuck sitting or lying down most of the time.
This makes it easier for us to focus on the past and the future, and harder to focus on the present.
Doing an activity that leaves you little time to think kind of forces you to be present. Think about children that race each other. They don’t have time to not be in the now.
They have to focus and win! In the process, they’re just having fun living life.
Find an activity that forces you to focus on what you’re doing. It can be something as simple as playing a game of Tennis or one on one Basketball.
Find a sport or hobby that makes you have to physically move around and make something happen.
Force your brain to have to focus on what you’re doing in the moment with an engaging activity.
13. Practice active listening
It’s something we all do when we’re listening to someone sometimes. We hear what they’re saying, but then we get lost into our own thoughts.
You can be more present by actively listening to the people you’re talking with. How do you actively listen?
Make it a habit to occasionally speak back the things you hear in conversation with someone.
You’ll not only see how well you actually listen to people and get better at it; you’ll also be making your mind focus on the present.
You can spend less time focusing on how you’re looking or whatever you’re feeling self-conscious about.
It’ll also help you connect with people more because people like knowing that someone is really listening to them.
Actively listening should definitely be one of the ways you practice living more in the now.
14. Take time for laughter
Laughter has a way of taking us completely out of whatever thoughts we’re in. Think about it.
When something makes you laugh, is it possible for you to be focused on anything else but the moment of laughter you’re in? Probably not.
Take time for laughter by spending time with those closest to you that know how to get you to laugh. Watch something that you know you’ll find funny.
This is a great way to take yourself out of focusing on your past and your future and just enjoy the moment.
15. Turn off your device
When you're with family or friends, make an effort to keep your device turned off.
It'll help you be less distracted and more focused on enjoying the time you're having with your loved ones.
FAQ on living in the now
What is living in the present?
Living in the present is simply just being focused on whatever is happening in the present. Each of the tips I listed in this article is a way you can focus on that.
It can be as easy as just paying attention to your breath going in and out. You can help yourself let go of all of your regrets and worries by just focusing more on everything that’s happening right now.
How do you really live in the now?
You really live in the moment by enjoying and appreciating the life around you. Having a good time talking with those you’re close with.
Taking a moment to be thankful for the food you get to enjoy. Soaking in all the amazing sights and sounds of the world around you.
That’s how you really live in the moment.
Why is living in the present important?
Living in the present is important because it helps us to not only enjoy our lives but also improve our well-being.
When you focus on your breath in meditation, studies have shown it helps to reduce your stress and anxiety.
Studies have also shown taking time for laughter can make you less stressed and anxious.
Though I’m sure you didn’t need a study to know that. All of the examples of focusing on the now can in some way be helpful to you living a better life.
You might wish you could learn how to be in the present moment always, but it’s okay if you sometimes think of the past or the future. The most important thing is not to dwell in it.
I want to leave you with these quotes to inspire you to be more present and enjoy your life more.
Quotes on living in the now
“Write it on your heart that every day
is the best day in the year.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Happiness, not in another place but
this place...not for another hour, but this hour.”
― Walt Whitman
“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”
― Maya Angelou