How To Start Living In The Moment
We all think about the past and hope for the future. We look at photographs and read old texts, daydream about what could have been and what we hope will be. But, be careful. Living mostly in the past or the future will only rob you of the ability to enjoy the present moment.
While each of us carries baggage from various events that have occurred in our lifetime, we can learn how to live in the moment. A desire to live in the now and focus on the present is really all it takes. You have to want to live in the moment – not be able to do it out of thin air. Here are some steps that you can take to get you going in the right direction.
Forgive Past Hurts
You may not be able to call up an old friend, family member or ex-partner to forgive them to their face, but you need to find the forgiveness within yourself. There is an old saying that “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” When you let anger and hurt fester, you are the one who is suffering – the other person is still off living their life.
Telling someone else that you forgive them isn’t the key to getting past this. It would be nice if you heard an apology from this person, but that isn’t the key either. The person who caused the hurt will have to deal with the consequences of what they did and will hopefully learn more with age. What they deal with is ultimately not your problem.
Forgiving is not forgetting. Forgiveness is something that we do for ourselves, not the other person. Forgiveness is saying, I am choosing not to dwell on this any longer. I forgive you, I am done with this, and I am moving on. You never have to see or trust that person again, but if you continue to mull over the past, you’ll never be able to learn to live for today.
Regret is another thing that you have to find a way to let go of. When you have major regrets – whether it has to do with having deeply hurt someone else or deeply hurting yourself – you get stuck. Your psyche gets stuck in a negative cycle of reminding you that you have caused pain and that you don’t deserve to let it go.
Think really hard for a moment. If you knew then what you know now, would you have done the same thing? The majority of the time, when we know better, we do better (one of my favorite Maya Angelou statements). If you continue to fault yourself over and over, understand that’s a choice you are making. You need to learn to forgive yourself – not forget – but to forgive. Otherwise, you are living in the past and you’ll never be able to move forward.
Love Your Job
Maybe you can’t quit the job you’re in right now – for financial or circumstantial reasons – but if you can learn to love the job that you’re in, it would be an added benefit to living in the moment. When you take on a job that you love or you learn to love the job that you currently have, you’re better able to appreciate the right now instead of constantly wishing for change.
Let’s face it, not every job IS a dream job, but most have significant redeeming qualities. Fast food workers are helping people get into a restaurant and out quickly. School janitors are creating a healthy environment in which children can learn. Nighttime security guards are helping to keep people safe. Can’t figure out a redeeming quality for your position? How about the benefit of paying for your own food and housing while you gain experience and add an employer to your resume? There is always something beautiful in what you are contributing during the day. You just have to find and appreciate it.
Dream About Your Future
While it’s great to think about the future, be sure that your dreams don’t negatively impact your daily hard work. When you set goals for “down the road,” try not to dwell on them with anxious worry. Dreams should be just that – dreams about what could be, what you hope will be and what you want to be. Dreams shouldn’t take away from what you have going on right now, they should add to the big picture.
You have extra purpose for today when you have dreams about the future, but try to keep them within reason. If your ultimate goal is to be an astronaut, reach for the stars! Just understand that there may be more than one way to achieve your goal. By broadening your dreams a bit, you further give yourself the potential to succeed. Maybe working for NASA or SpaceX is a broader goal. Or teaching classes at the planetarium so that you can impart a love of space on all who come in contact with you. Dream big and dream wide.
Don’t Dwell on the Past
While you may have accomplished a lot in the past and should be very proud, it’s time to put those things on the shelf and work towards something new. Set new goals and new accomplishments that you can be proud of today. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hold those memories dear and take pride in what you’ve done, but you are still here and there is more life to live.
When you embrace the old accomplishments and build upon them with new dreams, goals, and aspirations, you’ll find new direction. Whether this has anything to do with what you’ve done in the past or have found the confidence to try something new, do yourself a favor and live in this moment. There is always something new to learn, try, and be proud of, so go get ’em!
Let Go of Addictions
Lastly, the toughest item on the list – you will need to let go of any major dependencies that you have. Addictions and dependencies can be anything from toxic friendships or relationships to technology to alcohol and drugs. An addiction doesn’t have to be severe or life-damaging, but if it’s holding you back from living in the moment, you need to release it.
When you spend a lot of time thinking about your next “fix,” whether that be a phone call, text, cup of coffee or beer, you can’t be thinking about larger, more productive goals. Move on with your own mission to live in the moment and don’t let those things that control your time and your mind get in the way.
Hopefully a few easy tips are all you need to start wrapping your head around living in the moment. None of them are easy, but knowing the steps to take is half the battle. When you learn to practice and embrace these changes, you’ll soon find that you are living a more peaceful life with less stress and more purpose. Stopping to smell the roses may be a cliché suggestion, but it came from somewhere – and they actually smell really good!