People say it all the time…”Live in the now”...”Practice being more present”...”Hold the moment”. But what does all that actually mean? How do you live in the moment? Aren’t you supposed to remember the past and plan for the future? How can you do that if all you ever think about is the present? Isn’t ignoring the past and future just plain irresponsible? These are all very valid questions that make living in the present feel so challenging to a lot of people. Isn’t it supposed to be easier? Yes! And once you have the answers to these questions it will be.
First of all, let’s begin answering what it all means by talking about what it doesn’t mean. Living in the present does not mean never thinking about the past or the future. After all, they are equally important components of your life. Reflecting on the past helps you learn lessons you then carry forward with you to help you better navigate the challenges you find here in the present. Planning for the future gives you a sense of hope and provides you with goals that inspire your actions now in the present and begin your evolution into an ever better version of yourself. Both are essential ingredients to living a happy life. But there is a big difference between thinking about the past or future and dwelling in them. The goal should be to use your thoughts about the past and future to help guide your actions in the present. It’s important to realize that action can only take place in the present. You cannot act in the past...you can only learn from the actions you once took. You cannot act in the future...you can only plan the actions you hope to take when you get there.
Most of us have a natural tendency to spend way more time on reflecting and planning rather than we do on actually doing. Living in the present means flipping those proportions. It requires a continual, conscience decision in the present to change. That’s why it feels so hard sometimes. I don’t pretend to be past the hard part yet, but logic, experience and hope tell me that - just as with any other habit - living in the moment gets easier with practice. And guess what? Reflecting and planning are often solitary activities. If you want to connect more with the people around you, spend more time in the present.
Try some of these actions, or start with just one and gradually add more over time:
We are all living through an era of great uncertainty, where longing for the past can be a futile and depressing exercise and planning for the future is virtually impossible without more information. There is no time like the present to start living more in the present. With a little practice and a new perspective, even holding the moment can be easy peasy.
Happy New Year!
The busy holiday season is now in the rear view mirror once again. Does that leave you feeling deflated or relieved? Perhaps a little of both? Hopefully you were able to take some time off at some point over the past few weeks to celebrate whatever holiday/s you observe with family and friends. But so often that kind of time "off" from the pressures of work and the swirl of daily routines isn't as relaxing and refreshing as we'd like amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. And now it's time to return to business as usual...that can be both depressing and reassuring at the same time. But this year can be different. As you put away the last of your festive decorations, take some time to reflect upon and unearth your center.
Your center is that sacred space within yourself that brings you inner peace and refreshes your cup so that you can keep pouring it out to others all year long. It can be a physical stress-reliever like exercise or yoga; a spiritual journey through scripture and prayer; cuddle time with your children; date night with your spouse; or a hike through the woods to breathe in all of nature's magnificent beauty. Whatever it is, it's deeply personal. It feeds your soul. You need it like you need water and air to breathe. Neglect it at your peril. And neglect it most of us do.
We all know a new year is the ideal time to make a few changes to improve the quality of our everyday life. That's why we make all those new year's resolutions to lose weight, organize, spend less, read more, etc. But those are just about establishing routines and completing tasks. Finding your center is about loving yourself enough to learn how to nourish your soul. Only then will you have the focus, energy and peace of mind needed to love others and to realize your full potential.
This year, how about just resolving to find your center and then feed it? It may take some trial and error to identify it, but you'll know when you've found it, because you'll have more focus and energy to devote to doing everything else without feeling stressed and resentful. You probably already know where to look...you just need to stop ignoring it.
Finding and feeding your center every day...that's the key to easy peasy living!
Valerie Sheridan is a professional organizer, wife, mother of two, and Founder/Owner of EasyPeasy Living.