“If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.“ — Masaru Emoto
I’ve always been a chronic worrier. If I’m not dealing with racing thoughts about meeting deadlines and fixing problems, I’m running through scenarios of how I can improve my life.
This constant search for better or for more has left me with very few moments of enjoyment in my life.
Not so long ago, I was suffering from a condition known as thyrotoxicosis. In the space of a few months, my life turned upside down.
Even though everything around me was fine, I wasn’t.
The symptoms of this condition can be described as one of your worst nightmares.
Imagine being in a constant flight or fight state all the time. I couldn’t sleep much at night. My mind was racing constantly, every second of the day.
I experienced crippling depression and extreme mood swings. Every day was a struggle to live when the panic attacks would surface suddenly.
I had tremors and heart palpitations as well as fatigue.
The weird thing about this time is that I wanted nothing more than to just go back to how I felt before.
I wanted a chance to enjoy the things which I took for granted or didn’t pay much attention to.
Whenever I had a moment of normalcy, I’d promise myself that if I ever got out of this situation, I would make a conscious decision to learn how to be more present and how to live in the moment.
I would savor every moment and focus on what I had.
Thankfully, with the help of a specialist, I was able to fix my health and return to normal.
Except, this time around, I’m thoroughly in love with being alive and with my life.
Ironically, when I was in this sickly state, I tried everything I could to improve myself.
From mindfulness to minimalism.
Continuing with these changes has made a drastic improvement to my life.
I find fulfillment in my work.
My focus is neither on the past nor the future.
Problems that once seemed astronomical don’t frazzle me as much anymore.
Now, you don’t have to go through a life-changing event to wake up and notice the things in your life that are beautiful.
There are other techniques and tips that can help you with that.
In this article, I’m going to share everything I learned on how to be more present and live in the moment.
Related post: What does it mean to live a healthy lifestyle?
1. Less is more
It’s easier to be present and notice what you have in your life when you have less. Less of most things amount to fewer distractions, disturbances, problems and clutter.
Get rid of the things that you no longer need.
It will be difficult at first, especially if you form an attachment to all the material things in your life.
However, when you start letting go of those things that no longer add much value to your life, it subtracts the number of things that steal your attention away from the things that do matter.
I would also go so far as to apply this to toxic people.
A small and wholesome circle of people will keep you grounded and excited to live in the moment.
2. Surrender to the things you don’t have control over
What I’ve come to realize in life is that the problems we obsess over are the ones that pose a risk to our future or stem from the past.
Very rarely do we allow a present problem to rent as much mental real estate because we are forced to deal with it or move past it, depending on whether we have any control over the situation.
If we really think about it logically, the only influence we have over the future is based on our actions in the present.
We can’t change the past and we can’t influence the future just with thoughts alone.
So, what’s the point in spending so much time thinking about the past or future?
Focus all of your energy and thought into the present moment.
You can do this by surrendering to the things you don’t have control over.
What does it mean to surrender control?
To stop investing any more of your time, action and thoughts into things that can’t be influenced by your actions.
On the flip side, redirect your energy to that which you can control.
By doing this, you’ll find that it’s far easier to be more present and to live in the moment.
3. Celebrate small wins
I love to set large and lavish goals for myself because they push me to challenge myself but the one negative side effect of this habit is that it draws your attention only towards grand rewards.
But, how often do most of us have big wins?
They take months, if not years, to accomplish.
In that time, you’re busy working hard and accumulating small wins on a daily basis.
These wins are not inconsequential.
When you match them up against a big win, they may seem like they are nothing to be proud about but without those small wins, the big ones wouldn’t happen.
So, shouldn’t these small wins be celebrated with more enthusiasm and joy?
You can have many small wins without a big win but you can never have a big win without the small ones.
That’s how important daily accomplishments are!
Take the time to notice small wins, acknowledge your effort and give yourself a pat on the back for putting in a good effort.
When you practice this on a daily basis, it becomes infinitely easier to be more present.
4. Meditate regularly
One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is meditate. And yet, all it requires is to sit still and focus on your breathing.
During the peak of my condition, I suffered with obsessive and racing thoughts non stop.
The only time I was able to get any relief was when I plugged in my earphones, lay on my bed and listened to a guided meditation.
It would soothe my soul. I kid you not.
Here’s the thing – meditation is just like exercise.
You have to exert effort on a daily basis until the small results accumulate into something noticeable.
If you start meditating, you’ll quiet your mind and experience some relaxation during the session.
It may last for an hour after you’re done but your mind will eventually get back to how it normally operates.
But, the more you meditate, the longer the effects last.
Eventually, you’ll reach a point where your default state is more relaxed, calmer and more present.
Meditation and mindfulness have taught me how to live my life in such a way that I am not controlled by my thoughts.
Instead, when stressful or anxious thoughts pop into my head, I’m able to acknowledge them and move onto the next thought rather than fixate on them.
This is monumental when you’re trying to learn how to be more present.
Guided meditation is the answer.
If there’s anything you take away from this article, let it be this.
5. Connect with nature
Let’s be honest with ourselves, the more advanced technology becomes, the less simpler we live.
This has an effect on our thought patterns and behavior.
We are constantly stimulated in some way or another.
When we want a hit of dopamine, we fire up social networking apps and so forth.
All of these things rewire the human brain, according to the research that I conducted for this section in my article.
Ironically, if we were to simply turn our phones off for an hour, step outside and only focus on that which is around us as a source of stimuli, our brains would be forced to be present and in the moment.
It will be a struggle at first but as soon as you get through that initial phase of resistance, you’ll start to enjoy nature and being away from everything that pulls your attention away from real life.
For this reason, I have been considering a dopamine detox because I’m addicted to technology.
I spent countless hours per day staring into screens.
This is my primary source of entertainment, education and relaxation.
Unfortunately, living like this has made me feel incredibly unplugged from life itself.
Since experimenting by spending an hour outside every day away from everything, I feel more present and grounded.
Try to get outside for a walk. It’s such a simple thing to do but it could create some amazing good vibes in your life.
6. Let go of the past
When you harbor resentment, anger and grief, it will constantly tug you towards memories of the past that hurt you.
These feelings and memories will cloud your judgment and sour the taste of a sweet day.
I’m an incredibly sentimental person and one of my constant struggles has been with the past.
I spent far too much reflecting on what has gone and happened rather than focusing on what was happening in my life in the present.
I was losing out on the joy of experiencing so many good things.
And this vicious cycle would continue because the things I ignored in the present because of the past often became the things I would end up becoming new things to look back on.
The past is beyond your control.
We can’t change anything about it.
Instead, we can channel all those feelings towards learning lessons, becoming better people, forgiving others and finding reasons to be happy right now.
Letting go of the past is a choice.
What I mean by this is that you have to consciously stop yourself from getting wrapped up in thoughts of the past.
When you are motivated to make a poor decision based on resentment, anger and grief, you have to choose to take a different path.
By doing this day in and day out, the past will stop having such a strong hold on you.
If those thoughts and feelings no longer have influence over your actions in the present, you’ll begin to let go of them because they become nothing more than dull chatter in the back of your brain.
7. Count your blessings
Over the last couple of months since recovering, I have become quite spiritual and it has benefited me tremendously.
Every day when I pray, I start by thanking my creator for all that he blessed me with.
I list every single thing that I am grateful for without fail.
It’s almost like a mantra at this point.
I noticed that the more I do this, the more aware I am of these blessings in my life.
As time has gone by, my focus has shifted towards these people, things and experiences rather than the past or the future.
I would highly encourage you to start praying and counting your blessings on a daily basis.
Alternatively, you can start your mornings or end your nights by listing everything good that has happened in your day or life in a journal.
8. Make time for what you enjoy
Most people are on the hustle with this constant desire to improve themselves. This is wonderful but without some balance in your life, a good thing can become toxic.
For instance, sleep is important, right?
But, if you were to sleep all the time and be inactive, it could be detrimental to your health.
There must be some degree of moderation in your life or a break from the things that you do in excessive amounts.
If you want to be present and live in the moment, you have to prioritize time to play and have fun.
Don’t abandon that inner child in you, that’s where joy is.
No amount of money or success can bring true joy if you abandon the parts of you that know how to have a good time.
Every day, do something good and enjoyable for yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything grand or time-consuming.
Even if you put aside 15 minutes to be creative, to hang out with someone, to cook for yourself or to watch something you love.
Make time for what you enjoy and it will be infinitely easier to be present in the moment.
I really hope that I didn’t come across as preachy in this article because that was not my intention at all.
I’m still figuring this out myself but these tips really made a substantial difference in my mental, emotional and physical health over the last couple of months.
I hope it can have a similar effect on you.
The only thing I want to emphasize is the importance of consistency.
No amount of habits or skills can be developed without consistent practice.
It’s going to take time but eventually, with consistency and being intentional, you will master the art of being present and living in the moment.
Please share your thoughts or questions in the comment section below. I’m excited to hear from you.