Where is your current thinking and is it interfering with your happiness?
People tend to live their lives in the past, present and/or future, what’s happening on a day to day basis. How much time you spend in each category, though, has a significant impact on the quality of your life and your experience of living. If you focus primarily on the past, you can become consumed by anger and resentment and let others live rent free in your head.
Alternatively, if your focus is primarily on the future you are also not present. Many people with anxiety tend to worry a lot about what ‘might” happen in order to cope with the anxiety. while planning is not considered living in the future, worry tends to be living in the future. Worry is a false sense of control but can minimize anxiety which is why many people worry and “what if” about the future but it keeps you zoned out.
Both ways of interacting with your world can cause you to miss out on fully experiencing your day-to-day life.
When you focus on living in the present, you give yourself, and others around you, the gift of fully experiencing happiness and life, in each moment.
5 Tips to Being Present
1) Notice if your thoughts are primarily focused on the past, present or future. Where is your attention? Have you ever zoned out while driving on the freeway and notice that you are several exits up the road when you “come to?” You were not in the present moment. Noticing what you are thinking is half the battle.
2) Find an effective way to ground yourself throughout the day. For example; set an alarm that reminds you to breathe. Put down electronics at lunchtime and notice your food. Practice a 5 minute mindful exercise or just notice your feet!
3) Practice listening to what others are saying rather than preparing your response while they are still talking. This is also a huge communication skill that will get you far in your life. Make a game out of repeating back what you thought you heard the person say.
4) Keep a gratitude journal at night of things you are grateful for that happened during the day. When you start to do this, you will notice that your brain starts to look for the positives rather than the negatives of life, and you will be more present as you notice them.
5) Practice consciously making choices each day that align with your commitments, goals or dreams. Check in with your body often to see what it is telling you when you are faced with a decision.
I am not saying that looking into the past or the future is bad, just that if you find yourself living in either place you are robbing yourself of happiness today. Living in the present will provide you with a richness in your life that is not able to manifest if you keep your focus on the past or the future.
A great way to utilize the past is to look at it objectively, with out judgement, from an observer viewpoint to see what you’ve learned that you can apply to your life. Look to the future to keep yourself on track for what you want to create, and spend the rest of your life in the present.
In any case, getting mindful of what your brain is doing, and living in the here and now, will help you to live your fullest life!