It’s said that the secret to happiness is to be present in the moment. That’s easier said than done for most of us. We spend much of our time and energy reflecting on the past or projecting into the future, and very little of our focus and attention is here and now.
So how do we achieve this present moment awareness? Here are a few things I’m learning.
Breathe it in, breathe it out
You’ve surely heard this one before, but it bears repeating because it works. Just breathe. Inhale, exhale. Rinse and repeat. Do this until your thoughts fade. Focusing on your breath is the number one way to get yourself into the present.
Observe your pets
Animals only live in the here and now. They aren’t worried about yesterday, or tomorrow. Observing your pets is a great reminder to stay present. Try it!
Use your senses
If you’re feeling stressed about the future or sad about the past, take a step back from those thoughts. Go through each of your senses and focus on what you’re seeing, hearing, touching, tasting or smelling. Just spending a few minutes focusing on the miracle that is our senses can calm you and make you feel more present.
Assuming makes a…what?
We spend much of our days making assumptions. “I assume she’ll be late again.” “I assume he won’t call.” “I assume that I won’t get paid today.”. When we make assumptions we’re projecting into the future, a future that hasn’t happened yet. We create and play out scenarios in our heads for things of which we can’t possibly predict the outcome. What if we gave up assumptions and just let things happen as they will? I bet our lives would be a lot calmer.
Be there or be square
How often have you driven somewhere only to realize when you get there that you don’t remember driving there? It’s scary but it happens all the time. We are so lost in our thoughts that we go on autopilot. And it doesn’t just happen when driving. Sometimes we’re on autopilot all day long! Taking a breath and being present means you’re paying attention to everything that is happening around you, at all times.
Now it’s your turn. Put some of these ideas into practice and see how you feel. And if you have any tips on how to stay present, share them in the comments!