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Living in the present moment isn’t always easy, is it?
Our schedules are so busy and hectic that it seems like there is always something coming up that we need to prepare for or anticipate. And thanks to social media, our lives are so well documented, that it’s hard to let go of the past.
With our hectic schedules, endless to-do lists and the growing number of responsibilities, it’s easy to see why so many people are walking around stressed and unhappy. We’re often worried about the future or thinking about the past.
But what if we could slow our lives down a bit, and really be mindful of what is happening right now at this very moment.
When we live in the moment, we can decrease our stress, and improve our ability to deal with other emotions like sadness or anger, leading to a happier more joyful life.
So how do you live in the moment anyway? Living in the present moment means no longer worrying about what happened in the past and not fearing what will happen in the future. It means enjoying what’s happening now and living for today.
Here are 21 ways you can start living in the moment and be happy right now.
1. Live in the Now
It’s easy to dwell on the negatives of the past or worry about the future.
If you can be present and live in the now and take in life as it happens, you’ll discover joys that are often overlooked.
There are joys of watching your child play, the smell of coffee at the local coffeehouse, the conversation with your friend across the table (instead of checking Facebook) and the smell of rain. Relish and embrace these moments.
2. Live with Intention
Many of us go through each day reacting to whatever comes up. Instead of doing what we really want to do, we end up doing what we have to do just to get through it. We’re not living with intention.
Living intentionally means identifying your core values and beliefs and then living by them. When you identify your core values, live by them every day. That way you can filter all of your decisions through those values.
3. Simplify your Life
We’re bombarded with a lot of stuff, most of it we don’t need.
What if you get rid of all the extraneous stuff that you don’t need and only keep the things that give you joy. A lot of things we hold on to are from the past. Getting rid of this clutter from our lives simply makes life simpler.
One thing you can ask yourself as you go through everything is this: “Has this item served its purpose?” If it has, you can feel confident that you are doing the right thing by getting rid of it.
4. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Looking for more joy in life? Discover the positive effects that being thankful can have on your physical and mental health, relationships, and overall well-being.
There are so many surprising benefits of daily gratitude, that once you start doing it you might wonder why everyone else doesn't take a little time to express gratitude in their daily lives.
Keep it simple and each day write 1-3 things you are grateful for in the morning and in the evening.
This method of living in the present moment will allow you to see more joy and beauty in your days.
Far too many people focus on what they don’t have. They complain about their “lack” and never see all of the ways they have been blessed in life.
When you focus on the positive, no matter how small, you attract more positive ones.
[Want more gratitude in your life? These gratitude apps will help you to be more thankful on a daily basis]
Meditation can prevent overthinking. It can also help slow down a busy mind. If your brain goes “a mile a minute” with thoughts, especially when you’re laying in bed, try meditation. It will bring you a sense of calmness by helping you control your thoughts and emotions.
A great place to start is to do a mindful body scan. Body scanning involves paying attention to parts of the body and any sensations that you’re feeling. Start with your toes, and focus your attention on one part of your body at a time.
Pay attention to how that area is feeling and notice any sensations that you are experiencing. After a few moments of focused attention, move up to the next part of your body (i.e., after your toes, focus on your feet, then ankles, then calves, etc.).
By mentally scanning yourself, you bring awareness to every single part of your body, noticing any aches, pains, tension, or general discomfort. And it’s a great way to focus on the present.
Many of us have FOMO (fear of missing out).
We’ve all seen the couple at a restaurant and instead of paying attention to each other, they’ve got their smartphones out scrolling Facebook, or messaging someone else. That’s inconsiderate of the person across the table from you. I’m guilty of this too.
Make a commitment to leave your phones behind during mealtime and by present with the people you’re eating with.
You can make a game at it if you’re eating out at a restaurant with a group of friends. You can all put your phones in the center of the table (on airplane mode of course – you don’t want a bunch of dinging notifications). The first person that reaches for their phone pays the entire bill.
7. Eat Mindfully
Mindful eating is paying attention to what you’re eating. Many of us eat in a rush or on the go. How many times have you eaten lunch at your desk while working or eating in the car driving from one appointment to the next?
Life isn’t a race. Slow down and enjoy your food. By the same token, we often eat dinner in front of a TV or while we’re scrolling our smartphones. We’re putting food into our mouths, almost unconsciously, and aren’t really enjoying what we’re eating.
When you eat mindfully, you notice your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Some ways to eat more mindfully are to put your utensils down after each bite, aim to chew eat bite a certain number of times, unplug while you eat your meal – no smartphones or television. Really be aware of the look, taste, and smell of the foods that you’re eating.
8. Take a Friend to Lunch
I get it. You’re busy. I’m busy. We’re all busy!
But when you get towards the end of your life, do you know what you’ll remember most? The people in your life and the experiences you shared.
Not that you worked 80 hours a week.
As human beings, we need connection. So live in the moment and take the time to connect with a friend and take them to lunch. (While you’re at it, follow living ing the moment tip #6 and unplug from your phone. To be completely present with them.)
9. Call Your Friends More Often
Yes, we’re in an era where it’s easier to send a quick text, email or Facebook message, however, a phone call is more meaningful and you can have a deeper conversation (and connection).
One of the hardest things to do to live in the present moment is to forgive.
It can be tough to forgive those who have wronged us. It can be even tougher to forgive yourself for your own past mistakes.
But if you desire to live in the present you NEED to stop focusing on the past. It only holds you back.
Rather than focusing on the negatives of the past events try to look for the good that came out of the situation. Even if it is just a lesson learned. This can help us to forgive and heal.
11. Stop Worrying
Try to remember that worrying today won’t change what happens tomorrow. Every second you spend in worry about the future is a second of the present wasted.
If you are facing an uncertain or troubling future, focus on ways you can solve an existing problem now or otherwise improve the current moment.
[If your worry is constant and unrelenting, you may have more than simple worries. You may have an anxiety disorder. Discover the 6 common types of anxiety disorders here.]
12. Perform Random Acts of Kindness
Perform a selfless act for someone else without expecting anything in return. Through your generosity, you can positively affect another person’s life and bring joy to yourself from having done so.
It can be giving a care package to the homeless, handing out roses to random strangers or buying someone in line a cup of coffee.
Doing a random act of kindness not only helps you live in the moment but improves that moment for you and someone else.
13. Practice Yoga
Yoga allows you to learn to appreciate yourself through physical movement and exploration of the body. You’ll learn to savor your body’s health, intelligence, grace, and beauty. Yoga is the union of mind, body, and soul and you can be thankful every day that you can participate in such a practice.
14. Take a Nature Walk
There may not be a better way to live in the moment than to get outside and take a nature walk. And do it totally unplugged so you’re not distracted by email, texts, and social media.
The benefits are pretty obvious, right? It’s good exercise and can relieve stress. But you can also develop a connection with nature, especially when you use all 5 senses during your walk. Smell a flower. Dip your toes in a pond. Listen to the rustle of the leaves or the roaring river.
This is your chance to experiment “being in nature any way you want.” And if your mind begins to wander with extraneous thoughts, gently refocus on the present moment of being in nature.
15. Visualize Goals
Visualizing your goals is an excellent strategy for not only making it more likely that you will follow through on your goals, it can also help you become more mindful on a regular basis.
Slow your mind down, and visualize yourself undertaking and completing each goal. Get as much detail as you can in your visualization, so it feels real and within your reach. Learn more about visualization techniques.
16. Say Affirmations
Saying affirmations and positive thinking quotes help us to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
We have beliefs about ourselves that, if we changed, we would take more risks, overcome our self-imposed limitations and enjoy life more. Practice saying affirmations daily, and be completely present when doing so.
17. Celebrate Daily Wins
Be thankful for your successes.
To live in the present, each evening, before you go to bed, write down all that you have accomplished that day. They can be big or small.
- You went to the gym.
- You ate a healthy breakfast.
- You got together with a friend
When you write all your wins down, you’ll begin to realize how many there are and then you can savor these successes rather than thinking about what you didn’t accomplish.
18. Appreciate the Simple Things in Life
Trying to figure out what you’re grateful for can seem overwhelming if you’re only focusing on big things. That usually only leads to worrying about things that you don’t have.
What about the simple things in life? That cup of coffee this morning. The bed you woke up in. That beautiful butterfly you saw on your walk. What about your ability to walk? Not everyone has that capability.
We tend to overlook the life's simple pleasures and take other things for granted. Don’t! Live in the present moment and enjoy these simple things/
A lot of people don’t smile these days, and often you have to be the one that initiates it. But not only does smiling make you feel good, smiling at someone will make their day too.
Smile more and watch how your day can instantly turn around. While you’re at it, give compliments too. Be sincere – find something about the person that you appreciate and let them know.
20. Say Hello
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, let me tell you a story. In July of 2014, I took a trip to Guatemala to help build schools. One thing that really stood out to me was how friendly everyone was to me. I was a complete stranger in a different country. And on our walks, every time I passed someone they would say hello.
When I returned to the States, I became really aware that many of us don’t take the time to say hello to other people, whether it’s on the sidewalk, in the hallway, or even in an elevator.
Most people seem to walk with their heads down, looking at their phones, typing messages or scrolling. Look up and appreciate your surroundings. And say hello to other people.
21. Play the Gratitude Alphabet Game
We talked about gratitude earlier in tip #4. But I want to introduce you to the gratitude alphabet game. This is a great way to live in the moment and be happy right now, especially if you have a wandering mind and tend to worry about the future.
For many of us, we have a mind that won’t shut off when our head hits the pillow at night. So this would be the perfect time to play the gratitude alphabet game.
Here’s how it works: Go through the alphabet and think about 1 thing you’re grateful for that begins with each letter of the alphabet, beginning with the letter A, working your way to B, C, D, etc and continuing all the way through Z. You’ll be focusing on all the you are currently grateful for instead of worrying about other things in your life.
Final Thoughts on How to Live in the Moment
I hope you found something on this list of ways to live in the present moment to apply in your own life so you can live in the moment and be happy right now. You don’t have to do them all. The key is to be mindful of what’s going on around you right now.
So pick one or 2 of these on the list and practice them daily. The more you do them, the better you’ll get at being mindful and living in the present.
And if you want more resources to help you live in the present, check out these blog posts:
- 11 Steps to Stop Living in the Past and Put It Behind You
- 11 Steps to Be More Self-Aware Throughout Your Life
- 104 Mindfulness Affirmations to Live in the Present Moment
Finally, one proven way to improve your happiness and life satisfaction is to focus on goals that truly matter. To get started, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.