In Part 1, I spoke about the importance of being present and how living in the past or worrying about the future can rob you of your joy in life. Even though thinking about the past may bring temporary contentment or even a false sense of security and protection against future pain, the past is an illusion that will never change and cannot be relied upon as a fail proof guide. By spending too much time in the “what ifs”, “whys”, “how can I get more of that” or “less of that”, that the past evokes, your view of the present moment becomes clouded and limited.
The same is true with regards to thinking about the future. How many times have you planned a vacation that you lived for in the weeks or months leading up to it, only to find that once you had your vacation time, all you could do was worry about it ending and having to return to your old life? It’s far too common to feel unhappy in the present moment due to worry, anxiety and anticipation about the future. Although goal setting and the sense that you’ve accomplished something are both important aspects of the human experience, setting fear based goals or goals in order to get out of the present circumstances often leads to an endless cycle of ups and downs. By bringing your mind back to the present moment and focusing on the good in your life, yourself and the people around you, you’ll feel a big weight lift from your shoulders that allows you to experience true fulfillment today rather than save it for some future day that never arrives.
Below are 5 tips to help you get started in cultivating presence.
1. Focus on What You are Doing When You are Doing It
Being in the moment means paying attention to your 5 senses while you are doing what it is you’re doing. How do you feel, what do you hear, what do you taste, see and smell. Pay attention to your breath and the sound of going in and going out. Watch your mind as it wanders from the current moment and start to bring it back to the present. Give whatever you are doing 100% of your attention whether it’s an activity, listening to music, talking with a friend, cleaning, etc. Not only will you find that you enjoy life more, but you’ll also be surprised to discover how much more efficient you become.
2. Look for the Gold
Beauty is everywhere if you just look. Everyone knows that what we focus on is what we see. If we think that the world is cruel for example, we’ll find millions of examples of cruelty around us to confirm our belief pattern. However, the same holds true if we consciously choose to look for the gold. If we believe that love is everywhere, we’ll see more people holding hands, kissing, doing nice things for one another, etc. How you view the world is completely up to you as your perception is very personal and not based on fact. Spending time in nature is a great place to start. Eventually you’ll even find beauty in people, places and things you once felt were ugly or unworthy.
3. Identify Your Habits for Avoiding the Present
We all have habitual things that we do or ways of being that we turn to in order to escape the present moment. It could be watching television or movies, obsessive reading patterns, surfing the Internet, drinking alcohol or taking drugs, working out, eating, and even constantly checking your cell phone. Start to replace some of these activities with ones that keep you engaged and active in the world around you.
4. Give to Others
Staying stuck in our own minds consumed by worry, fear, anxiety, anticipation and ego-based thoughts, disconnects us from not only the present moment, but also from other human beings. When we take the time to think about someone else or offer a kind word or gesture, the fulfillment and joy lands more on us than the person receiving. Showing kindness and compassion towards another is about connecting on the most basic human level and recognizing that we all share the same experience of living – love, fear, hope, etc.
5. Be Grateful
One of the most powerful exercises you can do is to take a pen to paper each night and write down a list of all things that you are grateful for that day. Even if you can only think of one thing, that’s enough to begin the process of changing the way you think and see your present circumstances. Admitting to what you’re already thankful for won’t prevent changes from coming, but you will feel less attached to your circumstances as a means to happiness.
Published On: May 05, 2013