my annual autumn affair: 10 tips for enjoying the fall
words to live by: dark into light

stop looking back: 5 tips for living in the now

dont look back()


"Never look back unless you
are planning on going that way." 

Henry David Thoreau

 


Focusing on the present moment is something I struggle with on a daily basis. Hard as I try, much as I know it's so much better to live in the now, I struggle with finding the present moment among my constantly racing thoughts. Whether it's the already-happened past creeping back into my mind or the who-knows-if-it-will-happen future taking hold of my thoughts, more often than not I find myself living somewhere other than the present moment. And, of course, that's not what I want to be doing. 

Looking backward has always been a fault of mine -- and, in fact, was one of the reasons I started this site. I wanted to -- and still want to -- stop focusing on the past. Whether it's a past relationship, a family issue from the past, or a mistake I made years ago, thoughts of days gone by often seem to find their way into my mind, clearly hindering my ability to live fully in the present moment. Like most people, thoughts of the past impact my present -- and not often in a positive way. 

I'm really striving to make this year a very present one. Being more positive and present was one of the 28 Things To Do Before I Turn 29 and I'm determined to cross it off my list. I know there are many ways to be present -- but it's up to me to take action on them. Living in the now means not looking back, not focusing on the past. Here are some of the ways I'm going to push myself into the present moment: 


How To Live Now: 5 Tips for Being Present


1. Realize my thoughts are not me.
Tempting as it is to believe that whatever I'm thinking is true and real and present, that's often not the case. I plan to reflect more on the words I wrote in the "Don't Believe Everything You Think" post in order to keep my mind focused on the now. 

2. Use my breathing to center me in the now. Occasionally, when I'm really stressed out, I'll take a few deep breaths to calm myself before taking any action. I'm going to try to use my breathing more to keep me focused on the present moment. By focusing on my breathing, I can bring myself back to the present. 

3. Increase my practice of mindfulness. I really do want to be mindful, but I can't say that it's always the case. I'm often rushing and to focused on what's next to pay attention to what's around me. I plan to spend more time noticing my surroundings -- as well as how they make me feel -- to stay in the now. 

4. Forgive myself and others for the past. Letting go of the past can be really hard, especially when it hurts. Tempting as it is to cling to it, I know that forgiveness is the best way to move forward so that I can live in the present. I plan to work on forgiving others -- and myself -- for the past so I can live in the present. 

5. Switch up my routines to make them new. Too often I adhere to the same exact routine, making it easy to lose focus on the now. By switching things up -- taking a different way to work, telling a story in a new way, etc. -- I will force myself to be more attentive to, and present in, my daily routines. 

 

If you've tried to live in the present moment, you know how hard it is. "Be present" is one of those phrases -- just like "be positive!" -- that sounds so easy but is really quite difficult to put into practice. If you're struggling with staying present in your life, know that you're not alone. It's a very tough thing to do -- and I have to wonder if even those who are experts on the matter (think: Eckhart Tolle) are really able to stay present all the time. It's so easy to write the words "stay in the moment" and really mean them as true and honest advice, but it's so much more difficult to actually stay in the present moment with thoughts being as they are. They are tricky sometimes and can lead us backwards into the past. Hopefully these five tips will help me -- and you! -- to stop letting my thoughts pull me back to the past and, instead, I will stay focused on the now. 


Any other tips for staying present?
What do you do to live in the moment? 

Comments

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I often find that SILENCE helps me stay in the present. I'm not talking ear plugs, but turning off the TV if it's on in the background — actually, even if it's on mute — turning off the radio sometimes when I'm driving, turning off the annoying dinging sound on my email/IM — that allows me to focus on the shadows dancing, the warm yellow glow of the afternoon sun, the comfort of the objects around me.

Hope you try it!

MyPOF - That's a great tip -- and something that could definitely help me stay more in the present moment. Thanks for sharing you ideas!

Hi,

I too, find it to be a struggle to stay focused on the present. Sometimes, we find ourselves doing one of two things: 1) Regretting the past and 2) worrying about the future. The truth is we are not in control over either. The past is the past and the future will take care of itself. Choices are often the hardest thing to make and I believe we have to make a conscious decision to focus on the present moment. Thank you so much for sharing and reminding me of this. Great article.

Jarrod Clark

Jarrod - Great point about how important it is to know that we're not in control of the past or the present. Control really is one of the main issues that gets in the way of living in the present moment and recognizing that we have to let go of control is crucial for living in the now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

I so understand what you are saying. I am struggling with stay present every day. Even though I really want to achieve staying present, I can't! Our minds are way to powerful. However, I believe we can control our thoughts to stay present, it is just a metter of making it a HABIT, a ROUTINE. What helps me more is starting the day saying to myself: "I won't judge anything that happens to me today". This helps me accept things the way they are and stop trying to change them! This way I am PRESENT. Try it, believe me it works like a wonder!

Ana - It's a very hard thing to do! Like you, I really want to do it, but it's hard for me to stay in the moment. You've brought up a great point about making it a habit. We might not be able to do it every single second of every single day, but we can make it a habit or routine and we'll be more likely to stay in the moment. Great saying too!

I love your articles! They always make me feel better. I think the best tip I could offer anyone about staying in the present is that once you know the basics. It is persistance and realizing noone is perfect in that regard. But with practice you will get better and the results are inarguable.

Derrick - Thank you! I'm so glad you get something positive out of reading these articles. You're so right about being persistant and not giving up. We all fall out of the moment from time to time, but that doesn't mean we should give up trying. And the more we practice the better we'll get at it!

hi..I am very thankful for this blog I was searching for sites that would help me with my mid life crisis and I saw your blog. Thanks to you. Please if you have time please deal some helpful tips about this.

sunnysmile :)

Sunny - I'm thankful to have you as a reader! And I'm so happy you found this site when you are going through a tough time. I started writing Positively Present when I was going through a quarter-life crisis and it has really helped me to get through it. One of the best things I did to get through the toughest times was stay positive and focus on the present. I tried my hardest to focus on all of the things going right in my life in that moment. I tried my best not to worry about the future or dwell on the past. Those things helped me to begin living the positively present life I'm living now.

Hi,I often feel depressed and tried all kinds of methods on the market. Then I stumbled onto a movie called silent warrior. A must see! It helped me realise that keeping in the moment is key. Focus on breathing while doing stuff and positive talking"praise" to yourself!This helps me but I still stumble every day! Any advise please?
KISS!

Jean-Piere - Living a positive life can be difficult, and I completely understand where you're coming from. For me, I've found that focusing on the present and focusing on the positive things in my life are the two best ways to be happy. Try to take it one day at a time. Also, if you really find yourself struggling, it's important to seek professional help. The right therapist and/or medication can make all the difference.

Hi, thank you for sharing your own experiences with all of us. I find very difficult to be in the present when my "pain body" is awake (term used by Eckart tolle in his book). This is when all my emotions take over myself and I can not even concentrate on my breathing because thoughts keep coming onto my mind. THey come very quickly. I am conscious about what its going on but then I a get taken by one thought then another one then I am conscious again and then one more thought takes me and makes a big story...I suffer because I am thinking too much, I get anxious as I believe that those thoughts are true. I know they are not but I still believe them. I suffer. I really want to decrease this but I find it impossible when the pain body is ON. When is off I can be more present and breath. I can sense myself, my core. Does anybody experience this? Any ideas? Thank you so much

Luna - I'm not sure if I've experienced exactly what you're talking about, but I often find it very hard to stay in the present moment when my thoughts are racing like crazy. Breathing techniques aren't always easy, but it helps to try. It also helps to start focusing on the little details around you to distract you from your thoughts.

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