Living in the Moment

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In today’s hyper scheduled world that most of us live in, it’s can feel as though it is impossible to live in the moment. We worry about the past (something we cannot change), and we especially worry about the future (something we can’t be certain will happen). All the while we’re worrying about the past and future, we’re missing the present.

When we’re at work, we’re thinking about anything but work, when we’re on vacation we’re worried about all the work we’ll be coming back to. It’s a horribly vicious cycle and one that keeps us in a perpetual state of anxiety.

Being more mindful, or living in the moment, is key to reducing stress and all around better health. People who practice mindfulness are happier, have higher self-esteem, feel more secure, and generally enjoy more than those who don’t.

Being mindful is an intentional act that requires practice, but once you get in the habit of it, and experience the benefits, it becomes easier and easier. Of course, that is the paradox, you can’t pursue it actively and be in the moment. You have to let go and trust that it will happen.

So how do you quiet the gremlins in your mind so you can start living in the moment?

Take In Your Environment – To live in the moment means you have to focus on the right now. Problem is you have to work to focus on it, it doesn’t come naturally. Look around you, what do you see? If you’re stuck in traffic and worrying about being late to work again – let that thought go and pay attention to what is around you. Is it sunny out or is it raining? What does it smell like around you? Can you smell the diesel fuel of the truck in front of you? What sounds are you hearing? Do you hear horns and radio blaring? Can you make out the song of a distant bird sitting on a telephone pole? Don’t judge any of these things, they simply are, and it’s only your job to observe them.

Accept the Now – Getting back to our scenario of sitting in traffic while worrying about being late for work, it’s important to understand and accept that none of the worrying you’re currently focusing on is going to make you any less late. It is what it is. Instead of worrying about things you can’t control, focus your mind on what is around you.

Be Grateful – While focusing on what is in your now, thank those things for being. If it’s a beautiful sunny day – thank the sky for making your day brighter. If it’s raining, thank the rain for the hydration it brings to the plants and creatures it falls on. If you smell the diesel of the truck in front of you thank it for providing a job to the person driving it and for bringing the goods to the person who ordered them. There is something to be grateful for at every turn and giving thanks for what is around you now is a great way to stay in the moment.

Be Engaged – Noticing the things around you also serves to keep you engaged, thus preventing your mind from going on auto-pilot where the gremlins tend to rule the roost.

Practice – Set aside 20 minutes each day to just be. It’s helpful if you can do this outside in nature, but anyplace that isn’t filled with constant distractions will work. Don’t try this at your desk at work.

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