Living In the Moment
We're human. We have the tendency to live in the past or in the future. Whether that is thinking about an ex-boyfriend, dreaming about a past trip, planning for where you want to be personally and professionally in the future, or anticipating events that have not yet happened. These thoughts prevent us from being our best current self and living in the moment! How about trying to accept and learn from the past and think of the future only to help set future goals of what we want to accomplish right now?
But living in the moment is no easy task, in particular since we're on auto-pilot on most days. It's a matter of practice, just like learning to ride a bike or learning a new language. Practice daily and you'll be able to get a better hold of these thoughts.
Tips for living more in the moment.
First step is to learn how to observe our emotions and thoughts coming in and out of our minds. Some will be automatic, others you'll sit there and start thinking about them on purpose and others will be triggered based on something, a place, a smell, etc. One thing to try is observing and objectively looking at your thoughts. It is important to do this from a distance so that we are non-judgmental with the thoughts and feelings we experience. Judgments are automatic and are often inaccurate interpretations of the event. They also tend to reduce your ability to manage your own emotions, which in turn, then cause you to experience emotions more intensely.
A good way to practice viewing thoughts from a distance is to imagine yourself lying near a river and your thoughts and feelings are boats that are floating down a river. It might sound weird, but in essence, we see our thoughts and emotions float by but we want to only focus on the facts.
So say you've been practicing and catching thoughts that didn't allow you to live in the present. Great! What do we do now? You shouldn't embrace them, or pretend they didn't happen. On the contrary, how about acknowledging that you experienced a thought, accepting it, and replacing with another thought. You replace it by focusing on the facts of the situation.
Let's use the ex-boyfriend example to better understand: So you smelled a cologne that your ex - who broke up with you - gave you and now you either miss him or are angry at him for breaking up with you. So something triggered a thought, and that thought is causing you to not enjoy your moment right now, and, instead, you're thinking of how he broke up with you. So what do we do? Acknowledge the thought " oh, that smelled like his cologne". But then acknowledge the facts "that relationship didn't work out." And come back to the present "so, where was I? Oh yes, reading my book/watching my TV show/etc".
Remembering these tips will allow us to live in the moment in the most effective way since we will be focusing on what is needed in the current situation and not in the one we wish we were in.
Thanks for reading!