Updated: Aug 18, 2022
“The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is the door to all moments” - Thich Nhat Hanh
Many of us either live in the past or live on thoughts about the future. There is continuous chaos, day in and day out about what, when and how, mostly with respect to our future. In this chaos, we most often forget to live our lives the way it should be lived. These countless thoughts about the future or the past can after a point prove to have a negative impact on our mind and can have many consequences. One of the main consequences is that we are continuously distracted from what's actually going on in the present moment. In other words, we tend to experience life through our thoughts rather than through direct experience.
There are many benefits to living in the now - so many of them that as soon as you start living in the moment you will want to keep on doing it more and more.
Living in the present moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift. - Oprah Winfrey
Benefits of living in the present:
You become more focused: When you are in the now, you don’t get distracted easily. You are able to focus on the present moment for longer periods of time thus improving your life experiences.
You become more effective: Living in the present moment makes you more effective; you find yourself getting more things done in less time and with less effort because your thoughts and actions are in focused synergy.
You become more creative: When your mind is not wandering into a dozen places, you will find that your best work flows out of you, you do it in a focused manner and are not thinking that much.
You achieve targets: Whether it is your day’s goals or weekly targets you achieve it when you are in the present state of mind and stop slipping back into the past or future.
You become a better listener: When your mind wanders it is not easy to focus on what any other person is saying. Being focused will help you sharpen your listening skills, problem-solving skills and make you a better leader.
You improve your social skills: When you are with a company, either with friends’ relatives or on occasions, being in the present will help you enjoy the interactions, the festivities, present moments, which could later turn into a beautiful memory.
You become stress-free and less worried: Thinking about the past or the future often tends to increase the worry and stress factor within us. What will happen? How will it happen? Am I good? I wish I had? These are real-life dampeners. By living in the NOW, all these questions don’t matter because your focus is only on ‘the’ moment, thus you get a chance to savor and enjoy the moment for what it is.
Ways to be in the present, in the NOW
Focus on your breath – when you feel your mind wandering bring attention to your breath. Slowly focus on the breathing – in and out; in and out – slowly and deeply. This exercise calms you down and brings your focus back
Focus on what's right in front of you – when you feel your attention is getting diverted, pause for a moment and look around you. Feel whatever is happening around you. Move your eyes across, in front of you. Listen to the sounds around you. Feel the sun or rain. Feel the breeze on your skin, then feel yourself connecting to the feeling in the present.
Mix with people who consciously live in the Now: Be with people who are positive, and who always living life, are in the present moment and make the most of it. Slowly you will replicate these traits.
For chronic overthinkers, it is a wake-up call to stop worrying about what may happen or what has happened. If you take a look at people who are successful, have scaled high in their career, or have achieved a peak position in life, are people who don’t allow their past or present to bother them.
When your mind has no room left for worrying thoughts about the future or to regret the past, your mind becomes more relaxed and focused. But you have to work your mind to achieve this state. It doesn’t come naturally. For that, you must first be rooted, aware and set your mind to focus on the present. In this manner, each time your mind wanders, it will become easier to bring it back to the present.