I used to live in the past and the future. The present didn’t exist.
As soon as I’d wake up in the morning, I’d start making plans about the future before thrashing every idea I had because of what went wrong in the past. As I was busy thinking about what could be and what never was, I totally forgot to pay attention to what was happening in the present moment.
But the present moment is all you have. The past is gone, it doesn’t exist anymore. The future is a blank canvas still to paint, it doesn’t exist yet. The present moment is here, it’s happening, it’s real. When you focus on it, something funny happens. Your anxiety and worries melt away. Your mood lifts. You enjoy life and all it has to offer more. Good things seem to happen more often, too.
You should give it a go, too. Here are 7 ways to start being more present in your everyday life:
1. Celebrate the small things
When you’re immersed in your worries, you tend to ignore the beauty in the world and the good little things that happen to you everyday. Like the cute little flowers growing on the side of the road. The traffic light turning green as you’re about to cross the street. The friend you suddenly bump into at the supermarket. The sun shining brightly in the sky on a cold November day. Celebrate the small things. They can make your day.
2. Listen to your body
You don’t have to follow the current trendy diet or exercise every single day because you’re told you should. Instead, listen to your body. Is it craving pancakes for breakfast? Eat it. Is your stomach full halfway through the meal? Stop eating and save the rest for tomorrow’s meal. Is your body getting restless and in need of a run? Put your runner shoes on and go for it. Don’t worry about what everyone else says. Always check in with your body. It knows best.
3. Eat mindfully
I’m a very slow eater. It’s something that drive my friends crazy. Whenever we go out to eat, they devour their food in five minutes and spend the other 15 slowly watching me finish my meal. There’s a reason I’m that slow. I like to taste the actual flavours of the foods I eat. My friends swear they taste them too but trust me, they don’t. They only get the tiniest hint of flavour. Besides, eating mindfully helps you figure out what each food is doing to your body and how you feel before, during and after eating it. It’ll completely change the way you eat.
4. Start (and end) your day with journalling
I start every morning with the 5 Minute Journal, a journal that prompts you to find three things to be grateful for and three good things that happened to you that day. It helps me reflect on how my day has gone and find something positive about it. If you don’t want to invest in the 5 Minute Journal, you can keep a diary or journal and jot down whatever happened that day. It’ll help you think more positively about your day and be excited for whatever comes next!
5. Reduce distractions
Let’s be honest here. One of the reasons why you struggle so much to be present in the moment is that you’re constantly bombarded with distractions. You don’t see the flowers at the side of the road or notice the traffic light has turned green because you have your nose buried in your phone. You can’t finish your assignment because you’ve just checked your email and another task has just come up. You can’t focus on your date because your BFF keeps texting you. Figure out what your top distractions are and come up with a plan to avoid them. Turn off notifications on your phone or don’t check your emails until you’ve finished the task at hand. You’ll be surprised at how many things you’ve missed so far!
6. Feel your feelings
Bad feelings suck. When you feel like crap, you either tend of overnalyze every little thing or numb the pain in junk foods, beer or worse… How about feeling your feelings instead? I know that’s the last thing you want to do but hear me out. Feelings are weird little things. When you take a moment to sit with them and acknowledge them, they disappear within minutes. You’ll feel so much better afterwards.
7. Practice Daily Mindfulness
It can be meditation. Or yoga. Or a walk in the park. Whatever it is, carve out a few minutes every day to just be intentionally present and focus on the moment. The first time it will be almost impossible. Your mind will keep going back to your worries, your hopes and what to have for dinner. Mindfulness takes time, patience and dedication. That’s why you have to practice it daily. But it’s worth it. It’ll make you calmer, lighter and happier.
Over to you now. What do you do to stay more present in your life? Share your tips and rituals in the comments below.