I have a confession to make… I am a serial future seeker. Or, at least I used to be. All my life I have wanted to throw myself into tomorrow. I have always rushed around from place to place as fast as I could so as not to waste a minute. I detested slow walking people and I’d often overtake fellow tube riders just to get to me to the next thing I was doing that little bit quicker so I could do the next task after that that little bit sooner.
I had major impatience issues.
Being a big picture kind of person I loved daydreaming about my plans and dreams for the future. Most of the time this gave me great happiness and an escape from the current reality I had as I didn’t yet feel like I had completed all that I expected of myself.
Then there were times when those big dreams caused me great anxiety, fear, worry and stress for no real reason other than the fact that I wanted it all now.
That was until last week when a conversation I had with a fellow coach changed my world. I have heard the phrase “live in the present” many times before and understand what is meant by it but I’ve never fully grasped the concept enough to actually start applying it.
I’ve been constantly future focussed.
During our conversation we were talking about the three principals of thought which was discovered by Sydney Banks. The fellow coach was stating his take on it and his approach to life. He explained that he has many goals for his future and a very clear outline of what he wants his life to look like. But then he said something really interesting:.
“I don’t have any attachment to those goals. Take this room for example. We are sitting here comfortably enjoying our surroundings but someone else might walk in and feel anxious or uncomfortable. If we were to take away all thought based around the room it would just be a room. It would have chairs and tables and glasses and cutlery like any other room. Without the thoughts of enjoyment or anxiety it just is. It’s neither good nor bad. If we then apply that to our lives and appreciate every moment for what it is and focus just on that moment it quietens us and brings us back to peace and happiness. It makes us conscious and aware of just that moment.”
It was a profound moment for me.
The penny had finally dropped. I realised that I had always been chasing the future because I thought that once I arrived there I would be happier. The truth is I was never going to be happy, as once that goal was ticked off the list another bigger goal would be added to the list or two or five or a hundred more!
Living in the moment comes from living inside out not outside in. It doesn’t matter how many times you rearrange the furniture in your life, if you are not happy with where you are right now it won’t matter where you place it or how elegant and fabulous it looks.
Happiness is an inside job and it starts today. You cannot hand that power over to anyone or anything else. All we really have is this present moment, right here, right now. There is no guarantee of tomorrow.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no expert yet and I still have to pull myself back to the present constantly but now I have the awareness.
So how can we stay living in the present more often?
Here are five tips on how to be more in the present:
- Every time you are focussed on the future realise that it is just a thought. Thoughts are just thoughts. They are not reality, well not yet anyway. Reality is now. This will be bring you back to the current moment.
- Take time to actually appreciate where you are and what you are doing. If you are having a conversation with a friend or family member or anyone, just listen intently with the purpose of listening and understanding rather than for the purpose of responding or interrupting.
- Appreciate the small things. Admire the pretty flower or birds chirping. Observe your surroundings. Focus on the blue of the sky, the texture of the trees and the people around you.
- When something you need to do pops into your head rather than thinking “I must remember to do this, I must reminder to do that.” Schedule a reminder in your phone or write it on a to do list instantly so that it is taken care of and you can let it go.
- Create more mindfulness in your life. Become more open and bring intentional attention on the present. See your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away. Have a nonjudgmental awareness of the present.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu