I will be the first to admit that 2020 made it incredibly difficult to live in the present moment. I managed to do this for a while when I was in Bali back in February but in the wake of a global pandemic, readjusting to a different work life and spending a lot of time indoors, it most certainly took away a lot of the moments for us all to invest in the here and now.
But global pandemic aside, what does living in the present actually mean? Well for one, it means you aren’t too caught up in thinking worriedly about the past, and you aren’t too fearful of what’s to come. Living in the present means you know how to enjoy what is happening today, and you can live for it.
So, as you let go of a past that you can no longer change, and you embrace the unknown of the future, choosing to enjoy living for today is what this post is about. With this in mind, here’s 5 ways that you can learn to live in the present.
With 24 hours in a day, I bet there is at least one minute in your day that you can take to just simply smile. Our days are filled with endless possibilities of having anything happen; why not start your day by doing something that you can control – think positive and smile.
I love the phrase that “attitude determines your altitude” because it really is true; how you feel about a certain thing impacts just how much effort you’ll put into it. My advice? Take control of your attitude every morning. Fill your mind with positive thoughts. Be optimistic. Take a moment to smile and breath and expectant for good things.
Ask Yourself: What Do You Want?
This is a rather famous phrase from Scandal, where Olivia Pope asks a lot of her clients “What do you want?”
Well, learning to live in the present means learning to ground yourself in also asking yourself this question. Doing this is fundamentally about asking yourself what you want to accomplish on a daily basis. What will make you feel accomplished today? What does a successful day look like for you?
This is a practice that I implement at work (and it works!) but I find myself implementing this in my overall life now, which has brought me so much close towards living more presently. Asking yourself “What do you want?” is really about putting your focus on the things you want to achieve for the day, and finding way to reach them.
I said this in one of my YouTube videos; you really should dream big. Create actionable steps in order to achieve these big dreams but make sure that you also work hard today. Beginning today is the first step towards achieving anything you set your mind to for tomorrow. As future-orientated as we can sometimes be in the pursuit of our goals, don’t let thinking ahead replace living in the present.
Eat Good Mood Food
No, I don’t just mean a Big Mac with Large Fries for Friday nights when you’re Netflix and chilling (although I’m not completely opposed to this). I’m talking the kind of good food that is good for your mental wellness.
One of the best pieces of advice that my mother gave me back in 2015 when I was coming to Cape Town for university was to make sure I got good study food like nuts, whole grains, honey and fruit. A girl listened because not only did I finish my degrees with flying colours, but incorporating these types of foods have been so good for my overall health and wellbeing.
I recently read up on the Sattvic diet, which is considered to be the purest diet for those who are health conscious. The diet focuses a lot on seasonal fruit, nuts, seeds legumes and oils (to name a few), and is loved and followed by a number of yoga enthusiasts. What I personally like about this diet is how it not only helps with increasing energy but produces mental clarity.
There’s all kinds of scientific studies and research on the correlation between food and mental wellness, and I’d encourage you to read up on it to help you live more presently. You want to eat good mood foods that keep your brain healthy and give you the boost to be present in the here and now.
Get in Touch with Mother Nature
I get a lot of my creative inspiration from being outdoors, as I shared in a YouTube video. Lockdown proved quite difficult to not only get creative but to somewhat live in the present. It got even more stressful when I had to adjust to working from home, but it quickly became very apparent that I need to ensure that I spend enough time outdoors to keep going.
Whether it’s outside yoga in the morning to breath in some fresh air, having a picnic lunch by our apartment poolside and dipping my feet in the cold water, or just simply sitting in the courtyard to feel the sun on my skin. As simple as these little actions may seem, these moments of getting in touch with mother nature can be so helpful in grounding us.
Mother Nature has a beautiful, calming way of being a healing remedy (not to mention inexpensive!), so reach out to nurture your soul and bring yourself back to the present.
Say No to Negativity
The art of now lies in the art of no, and knowing when to say “no” to the forces you allow in your life. This is another aspect of your life that you can control and can impact your ability to live in the present. When you sense negative energy or bad intentions, say no. This can hinder you from living presently because you may become too focused on what is bad. Please don’t let this happen; distractions like this detract you from your amazing destiny. Learn to be selective and control what you allow.
Saying no can also mean letting go of the things that already are preventing you from living in the moment. Are you still thinking about an ex? Or an idea from years ago that you never acted on? I hate to be the one to break it to you but sometimes, these thoughts of the past don’t deserve your attention. You cannot control what is in your past; you can, however, control what you say “yes” and “no” to. My wish is that you’ll give yourself the space and freedom (and permission) to say no to thinking about the things of the past in order to open up the space and freedom (and permission) that you need to live in the now.
Will any of these tips be easy to implement? Not always and you might just hate me for the advice I’ve shared (although I hope you won’t because I really do have your best interest at heart!), but 2020 has been such a rough and long year for us all. You are allowed to learn how to take it day by day by being more present now, and well into your future.