"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?