Importance of Living in the Present

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Do you really “live in present?” When was the last time we took out time to hear our heartbeat amidst the eternal chaos? How many times have we finished our morning coffee without even realizing? How many times have we ended up writing about something supremely unrelated to what we intended to write? Most of us would say, “plenty”. Now just when we think that these questions are too trivial to ponder upon, let me ask you another question.

How often do you enjoy your work? Are you too busy thinking about finishing it by the deadline to give yourself a chance to enjoy it? On finishing it, do you get to enjoy the way you thought you would?

A recent study done at Harvard University stated that “On an average, the Human mind is lost in thought 47% of the time.” So if we come to think of it, if we live to be 78 years of age (average life expectancy) 39 of those years will be wasted in wondering”.

Interestingly, human mind quintessentially likes to think about two very important things, “Moldable past “and “predictable future.” The need to preserve oneself by identifying impending dangers through association with things that have happened in the past has unconsciously lead us to create a norm to live our present with our past kept in mind. Similarly, the anticipation of a happy experience to ultimately find the greatest sense of happiness and pleasure causes us to yield to thoughts about our future.

Being in sync with the moment, allows us to focus on the little nuances of every minute that go unnoticed otherwise. That helps us in strengthening and realigning our emotional bonds for future. By constantly thinking of the future or the past, our mind and body will be far from aligned with each other. We might be doing one thing physically, but mentally we’ll be focused on another task. Hence, forgetting to make a life while making a living for yourself doesn’t really seem like a worthy move.

Nature only views life as one evolving moment – a perpetual cycle of interdependent impermanence. Time is just a metric we use as a reference point for organizing our lives and documenting history and while we all are pining for the desired future for ourselves by compromising on our present, we are totally forgetting the importance of living in the moment.

What can we do when our mind is wandering in the past or in the future, to bring it back to live in the present?
Nothing becomes a habit (and eventually a norm) until it is continued for a prolonged period of time. Wanting to live in present also takes some persistent efforts toward it:

Firstly, we should understand the fact that Humans are endowed with the ability to make choices in their course of life. A choice to be happy and choice to live in the present. We have to honor our power because helplessness will not help us any better.

According to Shawn Achor, Living in the present to find happiness can be achieved by doing five simple (positive) tasks each day for 21 days. He suggests: Adopting a grateful heart, taking two-minute meditation breaks, performing short bursts of exercise, participating in random acts of kindness and reliving one positive experience through the art of journaling.

Now, it is not necessary for everyone to indulge in these tasks. The point to be noted should be that any task must be executed with consistency and devotion. In the beginning, you might feel lazy and bored because of the slow outcome but by the time the tasks will become a habit, their results will also start to reflect.

Try doing meditation for at least 10 minutes daily. You are not expected to devote that much time from day one but start with maybe sitting for 2 minutes extending the minutes gradually. The main idea shouldn’t be to try to stop thinking. That will never happen. But try to observe the flow of thoughts without being involved and judgmental. Don’t try to intensely focus on one thought because that will only create unease and distress within you.

Follow the 3S rule-
Step #1: Slow down. In order to figure out what’s working and what’s not, you need to take an inventory of your life. Sort out things that support your values and nix things that take you away from what matters most. For example, if you value family time yet you’re constantly signing up for community committees, it’s time to pass the torch and scoot your butt on home.

Step #2: Simplify. Take the pile of stuff that is not allowing you to enjoy your life and start trimming the excess. If you’re sick of spending your weekends cleaning a 3,500 square foot home, have a serious talk with your partner about downsizing.

Step #3: Savor. Now that you have examined your life and realigned your priorities, you can start living in the present.

In the end, we would just like to let you all know that it is totally your prerogative to choose your approach towards happiness. You are the one who gets to decide. But while we are at it, let’s not forget what Bil Keane story said once “ While, yesterday is the past and tomorrow is the future, Today is a gift! Perhaps, that’s why it’s called the present.”

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