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 unseized. 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, practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state of “active, open, intentional attention on the present.” Mindfulness isn’t a goal (since goals are about the future), but you still need to create the intention of paying attention.

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, we waste more than half our lives. Find small things to motivate you and keep you engaged — try meditation in the morning or a walk at sunset.
  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. 
  4. Learn from the past. We all learn 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 someone’s fault, but allowing it to impact your mood today is on you.
  5. Perform random acts of kindness. Selfless acts that help others will help you live in the magical moment of making people smile (and will make you smile as well). Do things for others without expecting anything in return.

Getting started is as easy as breathing:

“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.” 

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