trust me: to be happy you need to trust
10 lessons from the classroom of life

dip your toes into the moment


live in the moment

Stay with me,
here with me
Right in this instant,
not in the distance
When your head is off
in future time
That’s the place w
things get out of line
Taking in this moment
your time is so well spent

It’s alright
wherever you are right now
I tell you it’s alright,
that’s where you’re supposed to be now

Stay with me,
here with me
Right in this instant,
not in the distance
Standing at a cross roads,
I was at a loss
Those temporary moments,
pleasures that are stolen
Here in the present
your time is so well spent


I don't know about you but lately I've had summer on the brain and 311's new song "It's Alright" (lyrics above) has pretty much set the stage for my summer mood these days. I cannot help but rewind to all of those lazy, languid summer days when I would "work" at the pool (was that really a job?) or cool off indoors with a stack of great novels. I lived for the summer -- the freedom, the relaxation, the reading. I loved the time I had to myself. I loved the beams of sun hitting my skin as I sat by the pool, flipping over every 20 minutes in an attempt to perfect my tan. I loved the wind tangling my hair as I road around in my mother's convertible (or, later, my boyfriend's Jeep Wrangler). I love, love, love summer. I cannot say that there is a moment I would rather be in than a pure, unadulterated summer moment complete with sunshine, a great book, and a happy-go-lucky companion.

Of course, now that I'm a "grown-up" (really? already?!), summer has taken on a different mean. While things at the office are generally more lax and, if I'm lucky, the weekends are filled with glorious sunshiney days spent lounging by the pool, I certainly don't have that unbridled sense of freedom that once came with the three months lying nestled between spring and fall. I might feel that bit of tingling excitement in the pit of my stomach when I wake to a warm, sunny day, but I still have to dress myself properly and go to work (I'm pretty sure laying out in mid-afternoon in my bikini would be heavily frowned upon...). Unlike when I was younger, summer does not equal no responsibilities. Instead, it's the same responsibilities, just with a sunnier backdrop (and longer days...which, actually, are one of the greatest things about the summer months). I want my old summers back. Desperately.

But, as we all know so well, you can't go back (and sometimes this is a really, really good thing). All we have is this moment, the PRESENT. As the author of a blog with the word "present" in the title, I should be a bit better at staying in the moment than I am. However, I'll tell you the truth, readers: I have a very hard time -- VERY hard time -- staying in the moment. At any given point in time, I'm usually thinking about the past (longing for it, cringing at it, romanticizing it, dreaming about it, hating it, reliving it...) or I'm thinking about the future (imagining it, fantasizing about it, dreading it, wishing for it, planning for it, wanting it...). I'm am very rarely living in the moment, which, really is the reason I started this blog -- to learn how to live positively in the moment.

Sounds like I have some work to do, huh? After all, how can the author of a blog with the word "present" in the title not be living in the present? How can someone that wakes up to see huge 6 inch letters reading "LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER NOW" every morning not be living in the moment? Well, as you can imagine (and have probably experienced first hand), living in the moment is HARD. For whatever reason (were we taught to do this?) so many of us are thinking about the past (which is over and gone by the way) or dreaming about the future (which, let's be honest, might never happen). I know I'm not alone in this, but I no longer want to be part of that group of people who spends more time on the past and the future than they do on the present. As much as I write, as much as I read (The Power of Now anyone?), I still find myself stuck in the past or longing for the future.

If I don't do something soon I will be spending this entire summer reliving and pining for my high school days working at the neighborhood pool or longing for the days when I no longer have to work at an 8-to-5 gig. I will, essentially, waste this summer if I don't start living in the moment. And, as someone who adores summer, I cannot let this happen. I need to seize this moment and live in it. I need to stretch out into the sun of this summer and love it. I need to kick of my shoes and dip my toes into the moment.

This is serious. Very serious. There is a possible summer at stake. I have to take action. NOW. So where do I begin? I've read tons and tons of books and, while I adored them and swore to myself that I was going to live by them, I haven't taken much of their advice. I visit tons and tons of awesome blogs and, while I get great info from them, I don't find myself really putting the authors' ideas to good use. Reading something is only going to do good if I actually use it in the moment. So, I guess, what this means, is that I need something I can use in the moment. Not an article. Not a book. Something I can do, right then, to remind myself to be focused.


Aha! I've got it! I'll ask myself questions!


Okay, okay, I know the exclamation points and the paragraph separation made this seem like it was going to be some sort of OMG, revolutionary idea. I understand that this is not the next great invention or words-to-live-by philosophy. Just bear with me here. Questions are simple. Questions are something I can do right in the moment to remind myself to stay present. They won't require me to memorize Tolle or fumble through my wallet for a piece of paper with a powerful quote on it. Questions are something I can do at any time, in any moment. Like...right now! I doubt I'll remember all of these questions the next time my mind is wandering around aimlessly, darting from past to future and back again, but I'm sure at least one of them will come to mind and, really, that's all I will need.


10 Questions to Keep You in the Moment

  1. Am I living in the moment right now?

    Yes, sounds simple enough, but I think this one could be really effective. After all, you're getting straight to the point here. You're asking yourself straight-up, no BS, if you're in the moment. I'm pretty sure this one will work for anyone, anywhere, anytime.

  2. What is awesome about this situation?

    This is my personal favorite because it calls attention to both the present moment AND the positive (which couldn't be better for Ms. Positively Present herself!). These days, I'm always looking for the good in life and I think this question will help me even more with that task.

  3. How would I describe this moment to someone?

    Being a writer, this is a great one for me because it helps me to focus on the details of what's going on around me. For example, right now I see lots of green, green grass in need of a haircut and, in the distance, I hear a lawn mower grumbling...

  4. What are my five senses telling me?

    If you think about it, our five senses can tell us A LOT. I feel the keys under my fingers, I hear the lawn mower purring and coworkers chatting, I see the screen and the words popping up like magic, I smell my vanilla-scented lotion, and I taste an energy drink in my mouth.

  5. Can I add anything to this experience?

    Not only can you be IN a moment, but you can be PART OF a moment. This question prompts me to think about what I can bring to this experience. Can I make a suggestion in a meeting? Can I share a new song with a friend on a road trip? What can I DO to be present?

  6. What new things am I learning right now?

    If you haven't heard, I'm a BIG fan of learning. I love, love, love it and would give anything to be in a classroom right now, but, more and more, I'm learning that life is a classroom and I can learn from everything -- even things I've already experienced before!

  7. Am I really seeing or am I just looking?

    More often than not, I experience things without really experiencing them. For example, I look at something but I don't really see it. Or, and this can be trouble, I say things without really thinking about them. There is a different between looking and seeing. Think about it.

  8. What will I remember from this?

    Okay, I know this sounds like it's addressing the future (or, in a weird way, the past), but when you think about what you will take away from a moment you become more in tune with what's happening in the moment. Don't believe it? Give it a try and see for yourself!

  9. Which emotions am I experiencing right now?

    Just like paying attention to our five senses, identifying our emotions can be a great way to stay in the moment. For example, right now I'm excited because I was written about on Blogging Without a Blog and I'm happy about putting this post up soon. Take time to feel what you feel.

  10. How amazing does it feel to be alive?

    Being alive is something I take for granted all the time. It's so basic, so obvious, that I don't really think much about it. But, now that this question is in front of me, I'm amazed at how lucky I am to be here, at this desk, with this average view, writing. Life is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

I really believe that asking myself just one of these questions every time I find my mind wandering will really help me to be more mindful. Personally, my favorite is "What is great about this situation?" because not only does that one force me to be present, it also forces me to think positively. (For those of you not that into thinking positively, try this one on for size: "What absolutely sucks about this situation?" That probably works just as well for keeping you in the present moment!) If I do one thing this summer, I hope is this. I hope I learn to focus my attention on the present moment and really, truly spend time where I am right now, in THIS moment.


How do YOU stay present?
What advice would you offer for living in the now?
Do you have a question you ask yourself?


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Great post! Yes, that is why we practice, so that we may live in the moment more often. I meditate twice a day, and that helps me. Though there is still a long road between where I am now and being in the present all the time. Which I suppose is why buddhist monks and nuns give up layperson life. It ain't easy being present all the time.

Thanks for the post. Really lovely.

I sometimes wonder - if we have trouble staying present, maybe we are just not really enjoying our current reality? Maybe the present moment has an awful lot in it that doesn't really express our purpose or essence? I mean, it would make sense then that we'd rather be in the past or future than in the present.

These are just my idle thoughts ... maybe we sometimes have trouble being present because we'd rather be elsewhere.


Thank you so much for writing this. I feel the same way: I read and read and a lot of times, I still find myself longning for the past and future. I'm going to put these on an index card and keep them as a reminder! Again...thank you!

I liked Molly's comment, and feel that mindfulness in all situations at all times isn't possible. We're human with these human brains that just drift. Vipassana meditation teaches to simply observe when the mind wanders and bring it gently back to the present moment. Even typing this comment, I was able to do that as I focused on what my fingers felt like touching the plastic keys in rapid succession.

Staying in the present moment is a lovely goal, but one we're probably only meant to keep journeying toward with no hope of "reaching" it fully. And I think I'm okay with that!

I love this post! It's so funny, I was skimming the post quickly, even though I was genuinely interested in it, because I was thinking about what I had to do next, you know, NOT in the present.

I love your tips, too. For myself, sometimes I just say, "Be here now" to remind me to climb back into my body right at this very moment. It works, but usually only for a few minutes. I'm a life coach, and when I'm coaching I'm very much in the now with my clients, and when I meditate and write I think I'm also in the now...but much of the rest of the time my mind is racing, racing, racing. Thanks for the reminder to bring it back to this moment.

Molly - I really need to start meditating. Everyone who does it seems to think it's an excellent way to practice staying in the moment. You make a good point that it's not always easy to be present all the time so I should probably cut myself some slack too.

Andrea - Good point. I definitely think that not enjoying your present situation can be a reason that you're not living in the present. However, I think, in my case, it's more that I'm always thinking about my next move or reliving the past. But, now that I think about it, I do think there are some situations I really don't want to be in and that's why I let my mind wander.

Dana - You're welcome! :) I'm glad you could relate to the post. As hard as I try sometimes, I feel like living in the present is SO hard. I really think these questions will help me -- and I think they'll help you too!

Megan - I agree with that too. We can't help but let our minds wander and it's okay not to be living in the present moment all the time. For me, I find that worrying about the future or wasting time thinking about the past causes a lot of unnecessary stress in my life so I really would like to focus more on the present moment. However, I know I won't ALWAYS be able to live every moment completely present. I just hope these questions help me to do it a little more often...


There is awesome, we just have to find it. (Sometimes things are 'stealth awesome'...something is in our best interests but we don't know it because of our limited view of our lives, time, etc. So we look back on our lives and think "Man, that actually WASN'T a disaster. My life is so much better because of it!)

Jen - So funny because that's what I do a lot of the time. I'll be genuinely interested in something (a blog post, a TV show, the person I'm with) but my mind will be elsewhere and I will be thinking of what I have to do next. I need to learn to calm down, to relax, to just BE. I love the idea of saying "Be here now." It's a great reminder about staying in the present long as you don't gloss right over it and let the wheels of your mind start spinning again!

Hayden - I LOVE the concept of "stealth awesome." It's so true. Sometimes things are openly great, but if you look around, look closer, you'd be surprised about all of the good you can find in ANY situation.

You've brought up some wonderful points!

I found the practice of presence very difficult--I suspect most people do. And, when I was able to be present, it was a lifeless, boring, artificial presence--it was my mind's idea of presence--not the real thing.

Presence becomes effortless with the realization that effort is an obstacle. It's just being--being in passive watchfulness. (The watchfulness is passive; living is highly energized). My particular journey, and this is what I suggest to people, is not to try to be present, but instead, work on releasing first. Release is much easier, and with the release of fear and accumulated concepts, presence develops effortlessly.

Great questions you ask! I am blessed to be at home with my kids this summer (or is that a I only put them in camp 2 days a week and plan on just "chilling". I do remember my days working in an office...wishing to be outside. I took my lunch out side and sat on the grass (hopefully you can do that). I would take my shoes off, people watch, and just enjoy the feeling of the sun. That always made my day better!

Great post. I often have challenges with presence myself. Reading the Tao Te Ching was one of the most useful things I did. I highly recommend it if you haven't read it yet.

I just remind myself that the only power in the past is the power I choose to give it.

It's presence in life is because of one's own obsession with it.

If that wasn't true we'd all be haunted by every memory we had. Not just the ones we choose to reign over us.

I'm pretty sure you need to get out of my head, Dani! :)

Living in the moment has become one of my primary goals as I go through this amazingly transformational period in my life. It's tough. Really tough.

Though it's a bit on the extreme side, I recently got a tattoo on the inside of my right wrist. I call it my 'grounding tattoo' (I have three others with different meanings) and use it to help center me when I'm feeling a bit out of body or wonky. It's three small circles that represent a myriad of personal slogans (I will survive; I am loved; in addition to representing certain people in my life). When I look at it, I bring the me back into myself. And now, I've added the 'be here now' to my list. I'm really grateful for that thought.

While not everyone should or wants to rush out and get a tattoo to help focus them on the moment, I think it could be helpful for someone to have a picture or an object they can focus on in those moments they feel out of touch or distracted by the past and future.

Happy Wednesday!

Moment-to-Moment Optimism

These questions actually brought me back to the moment as I was writing them down! (Yes, I scribbled them in my journal which is on my person almost always) I have a lot of trouble staying in the present, I'm usually not thinking about the past *but sometimes I get homesick* instead, I'm mostly stuck in the future. I know exactly why I do this - because I'm always searching, hoping, and waiting for something better. Thank you for these questions, I'm sure I'll be answering them often!

I laughed as I was reading your 10 questions.

To your question, "What is awesome about this situation?" I thought, well, I'm reading this blog -- that's what's awesome!

OMG-I am sitting here pining away from languid summer days and not really dipping my toes into summer now. this post was exactly what I needed.

and great questions-thank you!

Kaushik - What a great point. The effort we put into being present doesn't really allow us to be present. Being present is about, well, BEING and sometimes that's the hardest thing to do. I agree that release should be the first step and I'm going to work on that. Thanks for your input!

Caroline - That's a great idea. I need to spend less time at the mall/Target during my lunch breaks and more time outside, enjoying the day. I hope the summer ends up being more of a blessing than a curse for you (which I'm sure it will)!

Srinivas - Oh, yes, that's a great book. I have it and it's covered with notes and underlining (not very "present" of me since I should have been focusing on the words rather then the note-taking). I haven't looked at it in awhile though so I will have to check it out again.

Nicole - That's so true! We choose what we remember and what amount of time we spend focusing on the past. That's why it's completely up to me to choose to be in the present. No one is making me think about the past. I have control over my thoughts and I need to work on pushing them where I want them to be -- in the now.

Veronica - Hahaha. Great minds think alike, what can I say! But, after reading your comment, I think you're in MY head. Lately I've been thinking about getting a tattoo on my wrist to remind me to be present. I go back and forth on the idea (I'm SO scared of needles), but I do think it's a great way to have a reminder to stay present.

Ia - I'm glad the questions worked for you! It's not easy to stay in the moment when you're always hoping for something better (trust me, I know, because I do this too) but it's important to remember that this is your life, right now, and you don't know what the future will bring. Sometimes I wonder what I'm going to do with my life, if I'm making the right choices now for the future, but then I remind myself that I don't know what's in store for me. I have to do the best that I can with today and believe that the future will take care of itself.

Vi - Thank you! :) I'm so glad you think reading my blog is awesome!

Brandi - You're welcome! I'm glad I was able to write about something that pertains to how you're feeling right now. It's good to know I've connected with a reader so thanks for leaving your comment.

You're right. This is serious. Summer is at stake. I promise to spend it wisely and appreciate every sunny day that comes my way (bets are off for the cloudy ones.)

Beautiful set of tips and I like the flash backs to summers gone by.

J.D. - I'm glad you recognize the severity of the situation. This is SUMMER we're talking about. I'm also not so sure how I much I can promise to stay present on those cloudy days, but I'm going to give it my best shot! Haha.

I feel the same way about learning! I always want to learn new things. Unfortunately I also feel the same about longing for the free days of summer. Luckily I am still somewhat free, working from home. But I often have so much work to do that going out to sunbathe really isn't an option. I love the idea of suddenly checking yourself and really asking yourself if you're living in the moment. Thanks for the great posts, and sorry I haven't been around so much recently!

I think that staying in the present is something that I work at every day. When I say "work", I mean that I can think about the past in a reflective way, not in a longing to go back way. And the future, well, that's just too much to think about. I think that being in Al-Anon has really helped me to take one day at a time.

Penny - Learning is the best and what's awesome is that we don't have to be in a classroom to do it! It's too bad you can't find a way to work AND be in the sunshine. That would be ideal. :)

Syd - I've heard great things about Al-Anon and how it keeps your focus on living day to day. I really need to work on this as I'm not as good at it as I'd like to be. You make a great point about how it's okay to look at the past as long as you aren't focused on it and striving to return to it.

This is something I really need to work at myself PP. I tend to be really future focussed. I have found that meditation helps me though. I'm currently trying different ways of making it a daily habit rather than a "when I need it" habit.

Great post and a good reminder. Thanks!

OHMYSTARS - I NEEDED this post, angelface. Thank you - yep, it's deffo something that I practice, I don't think I'll ever get good at it, but that's cool because that moment of now will pass, and there will be another moment of now in which I can rock, wohhooo! Going to play with your questions in my journal, I'll let you know how it goes xoxo

Great questions, especially #4 "What are my five senses telling me?" this really helps me reflect on the moment right now and not what has happened earlier or what's going to happen.

Egh, quite a big list, but no doubt a person would be better off committing it to memory to help them stay in the present moment. Wouldn't take all that long to do.

Sami - Meditation seems to be the way to go! Whenever I mention being present and my difficulties with it, someone brings up meditation. I REALLY need to do it.

Lisa - Love what you said in your comment! Next time I let a moment slip by without really being in it, I'm going to think about what you said and realize that there's a new moment that I can rock. When dealing with moments, there's always a new one to start fresh!

John - I agree that thinking about our five senses can really help us to focus on the moment. This works especially well when you're trying to fall asleep and your mind is racing.

A-Hole - It's definitely quite a list. I'd recommend picking just one question to remind yourself of or, if questions don't work for you, a phrase like "be here now" can be pretty effective too.

What a great post MS. Positively Present!

How I bring my focus back to the, meditation, and folding laundry. Yes...there's nothing like warm clothes with that fresh from the dryer smell to bring me back to now. The simple action of folding - I bring awareness to my arms. The scent of Arm&Hammer Spring dryer sheets fills the room. The softness of the towels...the fabric of denim...or the snugglieness of 500 count cotton sheets.

Yeah...folding laundry is my way to get back to now.

Peggy - Thanks for sharing! I hate to do laundry and folding the clothes is my least favorite part, but now that you've put it like that I'm actually looking forward to the next time I put a warm load of clothes from the dryer. :)

All we have is this moment we are in. So we must do the best we can and make the best of it.
Thanks for sharing
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Giovanna - You're so right about doing the best we can and making the best of it. That's all we can do and it's all we NEED to do. Thank you for your comment!


It helps me to remember that we are either in the pain of the past or the fear of the future. So when I catch myself in one of those I bring myself to the PM presing moment. Instead of pp pain of past or ff fear of future.

About your summer longing, what do you do during lunch time. Get out and walk, eat in the park or whatever. Put a fresh flower on your desk, one single flower will do. Use coconut lotion so you smell like summer. Don't work weekends. Take the entire weekend and spend time outside. Clutter, chores etc can wait. Now go and have fun!

Tess - That's a really great way to think about it. I love your suggestions for enjoying the summer. I definitely need to work on making better use of my lunch break!

The comments to this entry are closed.