being present

How to be intentionally present

Happiness is found by living in the moment- not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. In a world where we are constantly doing something (and often doing three things at once), it is easy to allow the present to blow past overlooked, and un-seized. There is nothing we can do to change the past and there is no way to predict the future. This is why we need to start living in the moment, which is also called mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state of “active, open, intentional attention on the present.” But here’s the paradox: mindfulness isn’t a goal (since goals are about the future) yet you still need to create the intention of paying attention to what is happening at the present moment.

The four-word philosophy to “live in the moment” is obviously easier said than done. We see it printed on inspirational posters, and read about it in Buddhist philosophies, but how do we actually achieve this feat?

Five things you can do TODAY to begin living a more mindful life:

  1. Savor your food. Make it a priority to sit down for each of your meals instead of rushing to eat as you run out the door. Also, do not use any screens while you eat- no tv, no scrolling through Instagram, and definitely no working while you enjoy your meals. In addition to helping you become mindful, slower eating will help your digestion
  2. Don’t spend your entire week looking forward to the weekend. If we spend 5/7 days of the week waiting for Friday, that will be over half of our life that is wasted. Find small things that will motivate you and keep you engaged- whether its meditation in the morning or a walk at sunset to reflect on your day
  3. Turn off your phone. Another obstacle to mindfulness is not wanting a good time to end. We all know that feeling of wanting time to slow down when we are on vacation or spending time with loved ones. Instead of constantly using your phone- to check the time, or take pictures- leave it behind and allow yourself to fully enjoy being present. Yes, all good things come to an end.
  4. Learn from the past. The only way to learn is by making mistakes. Instead of dwelling on something that happened in the past, accept that it did happen and accept that you have grown as a person because of it. Don’t harbor resentment because of past hurts, choose to forgive and move forward. The pain may have been their fault, but allowing it to impact your mood today is yours.
  5. Perform random acts of kindness. Selfless acts that help others will help you live in the moment of making others smile (and in turn make you smile as well). Do things for others without expecting anything in return.

“As you read the words printed on this page, as your eyes distinguish the black squiggles on white paper, as you feel gravity anchoring you to the planet, wake up. Become aware of being alive. And breathe. As you draw your next breath, focus on the rise of your abdomen on the in-breath, and the stream of heat through your nostrils on the out-breath. If you’re aware of that feeling right now, as you’re reading this, you’re living in the moment. Nothing happens next. It’s not a destination. This is it. You’re already there.” (Liked this quote from an article but don’t know if it’s okay to insert it into our article?)

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