When you’re unwell, all you want to do is feel better right now.
When you’re unhappy with your current situation, you fantasize about a brighter future or reflect on how you messed up the last time you were content.
When you’re happy, it’s easier to appreciate the present moment and even laugh about your previous mistakes while preparing for your future. However, none of this affects your satisfaction right now.
So you only have two choices for being present: get terribly sick or be pleased. I prefer to be cheerful, so I choose the latter.
I’ve discovered a few tactics and stories that help me enjoy the present moment during my fights with depression and extreme anxiety (the type of anxiety that makes you puke up every time you chat on the phone).
It’s simple to plan for the future, create to-do lists for today and tomorrow, schedule appointments and travel plans, and even make plans for the afternoon when it’s still early in the morning.
Being truly present in the present moment, where you are actually living, is far more challenging. What is the reason for this?
It’s an issue of thankfulness, or rather forgetting gratitude, for me. When I’m too preoccupied with making my next to-do list or planning my next week’s activities, I’m more concerned with what the future holds for me and my family than with what I have now.
I believe that if I cross these items off the list, or am productive by getting through all of my appointments next week, I will be able to calm down, rest, and enjoy some tranquility at the moment.
Then I’ll have time to appreciate and be grateful for where I am in life. Life’s fact is that there will always be more to do, more stuff to cross off the to-do list.
How do we return to being aware of and grateful for the present moment instead of getting caught up in unending future planning?
1. Understand that the glass is already broken.
I once read about a man who traveled to India in search of his truth, whatever that truth may be. He was looking for answers. He happened across an instructor, and during the course of his time with him, he was astounded by how happy he was. Everything and everyone was important to the teacher, and he valued them all.
“How are you so content every moment?” he inquired, curious as to how this teacher came to this quality of thought and, as some would say, enlightenment.
The teacher lowered his head and pointed to a glass of water in his hand.
“This cup is already shattered,” he declared. “I simply respond, ‘of course,’ if I knock it over and it breaks.”
One day, this cup that holds my water will no longer be a cup. It’s already broken, and because of that, I treasure every second I have with it. “
Everything comes to an end. Everything.
Understanding this allows you to be appreciative of the present moment. People die, this article will be forgotten one day, and the planet we dwell on will be lost forever. It all comes to a close.
I don’t say this to be pessimistic; I say it to promote the message of gratitude and appreciating every moment you have while you are still here.
2. A quick blast of meditation does wonders.
I’ve tried all there is to try. Hour-long meditations, chanting meditations, location-specific meditations, meditations at ungodly hours, all of it. Nothing seemed to stick with me.
I was depressed because I felt like a failure. I was always concerned that I wasn’t doing things correctly. I’d be annoyed if I spent the majority of the meditation thinking about things rather than being “mindless.” It was a disaster. I was a jerk.
Then, five months ago, I discovered a ten-minute meditation that has shown to be really effective.
As I sit cross-legged with my back against a wall, I have a wonderful piece of classical music playing through my headphones. I just listen and concentrate on my in-breath.
I’m not sure why this one has been the most successful for me, but it has.
I feel wonderful after the ten minutes are up; I feel focused. It has a way of bringing me back to the present in a pleasant, relaxing way. After this brief meditation, I am in an extremely calm state.
Maybe it can work for you too.
3. Perspective is life’s greatest snake oil salesman.
Is that correct? I’m not sure. I’m actually surprised I came up with that title.
Perspective aids us in a variety of ways. It preaches the idea that things might always go worse. That is the most common method of approaching perspective.
However, things may always be improved. At least, we believe they are. We don’t know for sure.
We believe we have figured it out. In your current state of mind, more money, a different job, nicer weather, a newer phone, and better friends all sound better, but would they all be better?
I know some incredibly wealthy people who are unhappy. They can have anything they want, yet they can’t completely appreciate anything because they’re so focused on their image.
Over the last decade, I’ve worked at a dozen various occupations, each of which I enjoyed for three months before becoming bored and looking for a “happier” career.
I reside on Vancouver Island, which is the most beautiful part of the country, but I was missing the massive thunderstorms I used to see when I lived on the Prairies the other night.
It can always be worse or better, depending on how we choose to process what perspective is available to us.
For a while, tell perspective to stop selling you on better or worse and try to appreciate what you have. Enjoying your current reality is significantly more powerful than relishing a fantasy that may or may not come true.
4. Cultivate a positive attitude.
It’s a pleasure to be around happy folks. They value and learn from everything that occurs during the course of their days.
Sharing a smile, hugging someone, saying “hello,” or even letting someone cut in front of you in traffic might help you become more cheerful and live more conscious and in the moment.
It becomes a habit of being present wherever you are, seeking opportunities to share happiness, as you do this on a daily basis.
5. Get real about your life expectancy.
While none of us enjoys contemplating our death, the truth is that we all have a certain amount of time and moments left to live. When you maintain that understanding in the forefront of your mind while planning, you’ll find yourself planning less and enjoying life more.
I appreciate statistics, and while this is probably not exactly correct, I had fun using the Life Expectancy Calculator to estimate my life expectancy. It appears that I have a good chance of living to be 94 years old!
6. Don’t hold on to past regrets or hurts.
Recognize that everyone, including yourself and those who have harmed you, makes errors. Allow those mistakes to pass you by, learn from them, and move on to the present.
When you accept that making mistakes is a natural part of life, just like eating, breathing, and sleeping, you understand that you don’t have to dwell on them for very long.
7. Quiet your inner voice.
We’ve all had that tiny voice in our heads that won’t shut up. It’s the voice that instructs us on our past and future. It appears to discuss everything except the present moment in which we are living.
You can live much more in the present if you can learn to manage that voice through meditation, calm pondering, or other means.
You are living in a condition of non-existence if you are always thinking about the past or the future because neither of those locations exists in the present now.
8. Focus on one thing at a time.
-Think about what you want to do right now. True, we do need to schedule portions of our days and make preparations for future vacations, retirement, and other events. We can’t always live in the current moment and trust that the future will take care of itself without our assistance.
When we set aside some time in the present to prepare for the future, we can make our plans by thinking about how our ‘present’ will be affected after we arrive, and then making arrangements appropriately.
We may feel more at rest in the now and not worry about the future once we’ve established such arrangements. Every night, I like to spend around 10-15 minutes doing some light planning for the following day.
I also devote approximately 30 minutes per week to long-term planning. I may then return my attention to the present time and situation.
The meaning of living in and appreciating the present is to be grateful for each moment we are alive and able to appreciate our family, friends, nature, experiences, food, and everything else that offers us joy.
While the present may not always be filled with sunny days and rainbows, we may be happy for the opportunity to live life and learn from all of the experiences that have shaped us into the people we are today.
Keeping our focus on the here and now rather than planning for tomorrow or next month keeps us at the moment and grateful.