The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.
People often think that they need possessions to live a fulfilling life. They believe that if they just had more money or more stuff, their life would be complete. Once they get what they want, though, it doesn’t make them happy like they expected it would. Why? Because happiness comes from within. It’s our natural state when we aren’t allowing ourselves to become attached (or addicted) to things outside of us.
There are many benefits of living in the present moment: improved mental health, reduced stress, and increased mindfulness.
Last week, I published an article about the benefits of knowing that the only time anything exists is right now. It got a great response, but it was just a lead-in for this post.
Below are the benefits of living in the present moment:
1. Living in the present moment reduces stress
Many studies are showing how mindfulness helps reduce physical and emotional suffering all around us. One way it does this is by allowing us to live in the moment without regretting what’s happened or worrying about what will happen next. Living outside of time gives us relief from worry and anxiety by giving us no other option than to live with reality as it unfolds—good or bad.
2 . Presence improves relationships
A big part of mindfulness is not projecting onto other people that they are any different. This means that we live with the truth of every person as each moment reveals it—no more and no less. When we live in this way, we become 100% present with those around us because there’s nothing else to see. Presence also helps us listen non-defensively and communicate with others from a place of love rather than fear or greed, making conflict resolution much more accessible.
3 . Living in the present moment makes you happier by developing acceptance
This one is a little counterintuitive at first, but don’t worry, I’ll explain: happiness = reality – expectations. Reality always wins, which means that our most consistent path toward happiness lies in learning to be grateful for what IS instead of bitter about what ISN’T. How? By stopping our resistance to reality and learning to live in the moment with non-judgmental awareness.
4 . Living in the present helps you live per your values
Values are just preferences—how we want to live, think, feel and be. But living outside of time as a constant now means that all of those preferences exist right here, right now. In this way, mindfulness is a sneaky way around ourselves because it allows us to live from our deepest desires rather than only from our fears and doubts about those desires. Living from fear almost always leads toward destruction; living from love leads toward growth and happiness every time.
5 . Living in the present enables you to live authentically
This one is similar to the last. Authenticity means being in alignment with your values—you live in a way that mirrors how you feel about each moment, what’s happening and what has happened. Mindfulness allows us to live authentically because it takes off the blinders of fear and desire to live fully actualized lives where every decision comes from our most authentic self instead of our conditioned psyche.
6 . Living in the present moment helps you live by facts
Everything I said above is true, but it only applies within this reality—the one that doesn’t lie or deceive you or betray your trust. The truth IS, whether we like it or not, which means that mindfulness allows us to live following reality instead of outside it. Living outside reality based on what we want or don’t want is the source of all suffering because it will always lead to delusion and disappointment.
7 . Living in the present moment helps you live without regret
Mindful awareness means seeing things for what they are instead of how you would like them to be. And when our minds live outside time, there is no past or future—just this moment (which includes everything that ever has been and ever will be). When we live in this way, accepting life as it unfolds in each present moment, we live free from fear and worry about the past or future since there is no point in either anymore. The past is gone forever; the future is made up of endless possibilities, many of which will never happen. This is not to say that we live without direction or choices; it only means that when we live in this way, all decisions are made with present awareness and therefore have no need for regret.
8 . Living in the present moment brings you closer to God/Goddess/The Universe
Some people are turned off by the words “God” or “spirituality” because they can bring up feelings of exclusion, judgment, guilt, or fear. But even if you have no spiritual beliefs at all, there is something so profoundly beautiful about being human—a creature who perceives herself as separate from what she experiences yet can step outside herself and observe her separateness. Imagine for a moment what it might be like to live completely ONE with all that is, as part of the interconnectedness of all things. In this sense, mindfulness is an opportunity to live closer to God/Goddess/The Universe because it helps you live from your connection rather than from your separateness.
When we live in the present moment, observing our thoughts and feelings as they change throughout the day, we live fully connected to everything around us with open awareness and clear intention—the intention being a crucial aspect of anything we desire so much that we devote time and effort toward its attainment.
But it’s harder than you think, though, to live in the moment. The truth is we live much of our lives either wholly unaware or dwelling on the past rather than focusing on the present.
Here are ten tips to help live in the present moment:
1. Catch yourself when you’re distracted –
For many people, distractions come naturally, but if you want to live more mindfully, you need first to catch yourself being distracted. Pay attention throughout your day and actively watch out for the things that pull your attention away from where it needs to be (i.e., what you are doing).
2. Practice meditation daily –
Meditating is one sure way to train your brain to focus on one thing at a time. We live in such a fast-paced world; it’s often hard to slow down and live life one moment at a time. Meditation allows us to practice being present with our thoughts and feelings without judgment or criticism. I don’t think you have to sit for an hour, though; even 5 minutes is better than nothing!
3. Go on a technology diet –
Get rid of your television, computers, social media accounts, etc., if you want to live more mindfully. Attachments to these things can keep us from living fully in the moment as we multi-task instead of focusing on what is happening right now. For example, how often have you been watching TV while also talking on the phone or playing on your laptop? You likely don’t even realize that you are doing it. Instead, live more in the moment by putting these devices away and engaging with others’ lives.
4. Take time for yourself –
Set aside sometime every day to do something just for you, whether it’s meditating or reading a book, taking a walk outside, etc. This is important because if responsibilities are constantly bombarding us without a recharge, our minds start becoming exhausted, making us less likely to live mindfully. This is true of all relationships, so give your loved ones some space too! Practicing mindfulness doesn’t mean that we become hermits, though; instead, allow yourself some quiet alone time each day while also taking time to live life with the people you care about.
5. Be where you are –
Every day we live in a world filled with distractions from our phones to television shows; it’s easy to get caught up in looking for “better” opportunities when they don’t even exist yet. Instead of thinking about what else you could be doing, practice being present by focusing your attention on listening, seeing, and tasting (if applicable) right now. If this isn’t possible (i.e., if you’re stuck in traffic), then at least take the opportunity while waiting to do some deep breathing!
6. Let go of judgments –
When we judge ourselves or other people harshly, all that happens is that we live more in our heads than in the present moment. No one is perfect, and that’s okay. So instead of judging, live in the moment by accepting your flaws and others’ with understanding rather than criticism.
7. Live mindfully throughout your day –
Once you begin living in the present moment, you’ll find it becomes easier to live this way throughout your day without losing focus or getting distracted. Remember, mindfulness isn’t just for formal meditation; it’s also about being aware of every moment of our lives, knowing where our attention is focused without judgment.
8. Find peace within yourself –
It sounds cliché, but most stress comes from feeling like we need something outside of us (i.e., new clothes, a better paying job) to live in the present moment. Instead, live mindfully by finding happiness within yourself, which won’t depend on your surroundings!
9. Don’t live in fear –
Whenever you live in fear, it’s usually because you are thinking about either what-ifs or regrets from the past, essentially living in the future. This is only natural after all, but when we live with our minds constantly focused on something out of our control, there isn’t any room for living in the present moment. So instead of worrying, try meditating to keep yourself centered and calm.
10. Live life one step at a time –
Finally, don’t be afraid of slowing down or getting off track with your goals. Mindfulness is a practice, not a destination, and it’s okay to live mindfully in small doses instead of always striving for 100%. Keep working at it, and one day you’ll live in the present moment naturally!