The art of living in the moment is nearly impossible for us in this day and age. We are always on to the next, or regretting something in our past, or stressing about the future. But take a second, look up from your laptop/phone, and breathe. Look around, where are you? What are you doing? Our lives are so full of distractions, how can we pay more attention to the present?
Last week, I was waiting for an important email. I spent all morning, day, and night, thinking about this email. It was always in the back of my brain, and I was so unfocused on the tasks in front of me, and was refreshing my email every 5 minutes. I was going through the motions for about 3 days. I went to catch up with an old friend, and while yes, I was physically there sitting 6 ft away from her, I was not there mentally at all. I was thinking about this dreaded email, playing out different scenarios in my mind of how it could go down.
This got me thinking, how can I live more in the moment? How can I TRULY let go of what I can’t control, and stop letting those things ruin my day? I remember watching a video of Will Smith speaking on the topic of fear. He was using sky diving as an example, and was saying that there is no reason to be scared until your feet are actually out of the plane. There’s no reason to be nervous in your bed the night before, and no reason to be nervous in the car on the way there. Letting yourself be nervous for something before it even happens doesn’t make any sense, it hasn’t happened yet? You’re already putting yourself in a bad mindset. You think you know what’s going to happen, but you actually have no idea. This also relates to the idea of living in the moment. When you’re on vacation, you stress about what you’re missing at work. When you’re at work, all you want is a vacation. It’s like our brains are jumping from thought to thought without us being in control at all.
Okay cool Presley so now I know that I’m always stressing about the future but how do I stop? I have to plan for the future, right??!
Ah yes, young grasshopper, you are right. That’s the crazy part about this, you have to find balance. You can plan all you want for your future, but there’s no way to map out exactly what will happen. Or, you can stress about the future so much that all you do is sit around on your laptop planning, and then you’re doing nothing to actually help your future self out.
Back to the day I was with my friend, thinking about that email the whole time. I got home and literally said to myself: “There was nothing I could’ve done while hanging out with my friend to make that email come any faster” That’s when I realized we have to put some of our thoughts in boxes, and close them, tightly. So, say you have an important meeting tomorrow. You are 100% prepared, but you are still stressed because you’re unsure of what the outcome will be. Why would you stress all day about what could happen? You have no idea! All you can do is be 100% ready. Your stress and your nerves will eat you alive and will probably make your performance suffer.
The goal is to learn how to balance thinking about the past, present, and future. A healthy balance of all 3 is one of the keys to living in the moment. Yes, we all have made mistakes and had our cringy moments, but once you think about it once, figure out what you can do differently next time, YOU GOTTA DROP IT. As for the future, you have to think about it enough to be prepared to achieve your goals, but you have to make the active choice to not dwell on what could go wrong.
“One day at a time, one step at time”
You have the power to control what you do in this present moment. You have the power to control what you’re thinking about. Start small, look at your calendar for one day. If you don’t have a “stressful” task till the end of the day, what are going to do during the day to avoid worrying about it and be present in this current moment? If there is nothing you can do about it in this moment, you have to learn to drop it. Limit your distractions, stop worrying about other people, and start breathing. Now you are living in the moment!
PS. Everything actually turned out MORE than fine with that email I was waiting to receive, so there was no reason for me to spend 3 days worrying about it. 🙂