We are consumed with pensions and insurance plans. We save for a rainy day. We live our lives for a day that we may never even see. But when do we find the time to just be? To merely exist without planning for tomorrow or being productive enough to justify our existence.
When we slow down and actually take time to look around, we learn to live in the moment. When did you last sit and savor a cool drink, with the sun on your face? Free from any feelings of guilt or pressures to crack on with your “to do” list. The more we are able to live in the moment, the greater our life satisfaction.
It’s time to take the wheel. Grasp hold of the controls and learn how to dictate the speed and direction of your life. Let’s discuss the benefits of living in the moment and how to achieve this.
What is stopping us from living in the moment?
I’ve got an exam next week. I’m anxious about this and already wish for the time to pass until this exam is over. But time is precious. We never know how much time we have left and we waste it in so many ways.
Let me ask you something. If you knew exactly how much time you had left, would you change how you live your life?
We often get caught in a rut. We do the same thing day in, day out. We drive the same route to work. We have the same lunch. We do the same thing after work. We watch the same programs on TV. Same same same. And as a result, our brain switches off.
We are essentially sleepwalking through life. Days merge into weeks which merge into months. And before you know it, years have passed by without as much of a blink.
We take the path of least resistance. We follow the crowd and do what we are supposed to do. We simply exist.
Dr. Eyal Winter suggests we are a species that has survived and thrived largely due to the fact that we don’t solely live in the moment. This has secured our evolution. Think about it. If we lived solely in the present we wouldn’t invest in our:
But, it seems to me we are in such a rush to achieve and succeed that we forget to live in the moment.
What are the benefits of living in the moment?
So here’s the thing. Savoring the moment leads to greater rates of positive emotion and reduced incidents of depression. Living in the moment helps us reduce our levels of worry and anxiety. And it also serves to help us appreciate the people around us.
My partner was recently discharged from the hospital. It is most likely he was experiencing panic attacks. He genuinely believed he was having a heart attack. Do you know what he has an overwhelming desire to do now? Live.
This little shock to his system has already sparked action. He is removing caffeine from his diet, he is working on his poor sleep hygiene and he wants to invite more exercise and joy into his life.
We don’t live a stressful or demanding life. But we have gotten ourselves into a bit of a predictable rut. Our goal is to do more and worry less.
I look forward to helping him see the full-color spectrum of his world.
6 tips to live in the moment
With all that said, I want to share 6 tips to help you live in the moment more!
1. Try something new every day
A few years ago I challenged myself to have a new experience every day. This could be anything from a new food I hadn’t tried, to taking a different route or mode of transport to work. Going to a tourist attraction I hadn’t visited or speaking to someone I had not spoken to before.
If I got to the end of the day without a new experience, I simply found a new song to experience. This little habit made every day a little more unique and magical.
2. Be more like a dog
My beautiful dog Zac has his stresses. He came to me broken and bent. A depressed and emaciated 1-year-old.
But with the right amount of love he blossomed. He learned to trust both humans and himself. He started to explore his environment. And best of all, he began to smile with his big loping tongue hanging out whilst wagging his little stumpy tail.
I love watching him potter about on our walks. He engages with his environment in unison. There is no overthinking. There is simply a reaction to what is in front of him and the decision to give everything a go.
If you watch dogs, what life lessons can you take from them?
If you still need a little more inspiration, check out this Salomon trail dog video and let the poetry fill you up. As they say:
Enjoy the journey, never forget to play and feel the joy of life… surround yourself with the people you love, live in the moment, have boundless energy.
3. One day at a time
This may be easier said than done.
When we focus on an event in the future, we do the present a disservice. And ultimately, the only way we get to be the best version of ourselves is to live each day to its full potential.
To live each day to its full potential, we need to be present.
One day at a time. One step at a time. Focus on the micro goals and enjoy them.
I break down my training sessions to one run at a time. I have lots of little small goals which all accumulate towards my big race goals. But I take one run at a time and for that moment, the only run that matters is the one I am enduring.
As each new day dawns, give yourself time to express gratitude for the day. Here are 4 ideas for how to welcome and mark each new day:
This will help cleanse your mind and allow you to focus on the day ahead, and only the day ahead.
4. Ground yourself
Grounding exercises have been proven to help with many wellbeing concerns, including:
- Traumatic memories.
There are a number of techniques available.
For instance, when I am on a walk I take in my surroundings. I list all the things I can hear, see, smell, touch and taste. This draws me away from my thoughts. It helps me ignore any worries and brings me into the here and now. It encourages me to look around me and really take stock of my surroundings.
5. Switch off your phone
You know it, I know it. We all know that by switching our phones off or turning them on silent we are able to be more present.
How do you feel if you are on a lunch date with a friend and their phone keeps pinging and grabbing their attention? Do you feel listened to? I suspect you don’t feel you have their full attention. By any chance do they appear distracted?
This is the effect our mobile phones have on us even if we are by ourselves. So how about setting specific times you can check your phone and aside from this leave it on silent? This will keep your mind focused on the present, without jerking it into messages, thoughts, replies and conversations.
6. Indulge in mindful activities
These days, it seems like mindfulness is given as the answer to everything. But if it wasn’t so effective, then perhaps it wouldn’t be suggested.
- Reduce anxiety.
- Reduce depression.
- Boost the immune system.
- Help pain management.
- Break free from unhealthy habits and addictions.
- Reduce insomnia.
- Reduce high blood pressure.
The expectation we are under to multi-task and keep a ridiculous amount of plates spinning at the same time doesn’t lend itself to mindfulness.
But, when we practice mindfulness, it helps us stop trying to spin all the plates.
It isn’t that it equips us to be more productive. Rather it helps us find peace with failing to meet unachievable expectations. Most importantly, it helps us live in the moment. It helps us give ourselves permission to say “no” to some things.
Some mindfulness exercises I particularly like are:
- Coloring books.
- Indulging in a board game.
- Playing with my dog.
- Lying on my shakti matt and closing my eyes.
- Singing along to my favorite songs.
Do you already do any of these? What do you think of them?
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Life is short. Let’s not waste the present with our overconsumption of the past and the future. Don’t let life pass you by. Make sure you finish each day with a sense of warmth. Shake things up a little, break your routine.
What's your favorite way to live in the moment? I'd love to hear your tips in the comments below!