You’ve probably been told at least once in your life to live in the present moment, or you may have encountered the cliché phrase in a movie or a book. But what does it actually mean to live in the moment? Is it possible to forget about the past and the future and be fully present?
Whether you’re experiencing relationship problems and struggle to find good solutions or suffer from anxiety and depression, it is easy to become overwhelmed by your emotions and let otherwise enjoyable moments pass by. Instead, we worry about our future or ruminate about the past, losing track of what goes on around us.
While it is not entirely possible to leave the past behind, and not think about the future at all, there seems to be a definite value in appreciating the present moment.
What Does Living In The Moment Mean?
When you live in the moment, you are fully present and aware of the emotions and thoughts that you have right now. If you’re not present, your thoughts are either turned towards the past or fixated on the future.
Naturally, it is perfectly normal to think about the past or daydream about the future. Looking back helps us to better understand ourselves and our choices, while looking forward can enable us to plan our next steps and prepare for what’s coming.
However, when you get caught up in rumination and anxiety, your past or future-oriented thoughts may start to dictate your behaviors and prevent you from thinking realistically about your current situation.
This is why practicing mindfulness of the present moment can be a valuable tool for combating anxious and regretful thought patterns.
Why Is Living In The Moment Important?
While you may not be able to completely avert your thoughts from the past or the future, you can try to center yourself and evaluate your present thoughts and emotions in a realistic way by focusing on the here and now. In fact, being present can help you in a number of ways:
- You can only control the present moment. Although you can learn much about yourself from the way you behaved in the past and create a promising plan for reaching your future goals, the present moment is the only moment you can actually control.
- You won’t miss out on enjoyable moments. How many times have you heard the phrase, life is short. There is no way of knowing for certain what tomorrow will bring, so cherishing what you have right now and taking advantage of the present possibilities may be your best bet.
- It can reduce your stress levels. Practicing mindfulness and learning proper breathing techniques can help combat stress and anxiety. Truly living in the moment is a useful tool for protecting your mental health.
- You’ll keep your expectations in check. No matter how thoroughly you plan your future, your plans may not work out the way you imagined them. By being aware of your present realities, you will find it easier to manage expectations and save yourself from disappointment.
- It can improve your relationships. Unfortunately, many relationships break apart because one or both partners can’t let go of the past or they’re too focused on planning for the future. When you are present, you’ll be more likely to appreciate the moments you spend with your partner.
How Do You Learn To Live In The Moment?
Living in the moment sounds relatively simple. And it would be if we only had a switch that can shut off our thoughts or divert them towards the present. Considering that we don’t, true mindfulness may take quite a bit of effort. Here are some tips for staying present:
- Give something your full attention
Whether it’s playing an instrument, having a personalized mantra, or creating art, focusing your attention on a single activity can help keep your thoughts centered and induce a state of flow.
Learning good breathing techniques can help you reduce the stress of the present moment and appreciate the here and now. Relax and do nothing for a while, only focusing on your breathing and your bodily sensations.
- Let your thoughts flow
When you lose yourself in an activity or simply focus on your breathing, your thoughts may create a state of flow or non-thought. You may be still strategizing or planning in the short term, but your thoughts will be focused solely on what you’re doing right now.
- Stay off social media
While the internet and the social media have their own perks, it can be useful to separate yourself from the constant influx of images and news flooding them every day. This will help you focus inwardly and avoid unnecessary distractions.
- Experience your senses
Your five senses can anchor you in the present moment, preventing the past and the future from overcoming your mind. Listen to the sounds around you, enjoy your food, or feel the heat of the sun.
How Do You Live In The Moment In A Relationship?
Learning to cherish each moment can also help improve your relationship with your partner. If you spend your time worrying about what you will do next or keep arguing about the past, you may create distance between your partner and yourself.
This is easier said than done. I get it. If you are still trying to resolve attachment wounds from the past, the old memories can come up out of nowhere and hijack your ability to be in the present moment.
The couples I work with do that often – a dance of anxiety that lifts them out of the present moment or the dance of avoidance that takes them out of the present moment. Resulting in disconnect.
You can focus on the present by:
- Engaging in activities that make both of you happy, whether it’s preparing dinner together, watching a movie or going biking.
- Set aside some time for relaxation and give your partner the space to do the same
- Try not to bring up mistakes from the past and focus on bettering yourself and your relationship right now
- Don’t get hung up on what the future holds for your relationship and try to go with the flow
- Communicate openly and honestly about what bothers you in the relationship instead of ignoring your emotional needs
- Attend relationship building workshops with your partner to deepen and revive your relationship which will make living in the moment together possible
Fix Your Relationship Through An Insightful Intensive Workshop
Learning to be mindful of the present moment can take some time, but it’s far from impossible. At PIVOT, we strive to help individuals and couples find balance in their relationships and heal from their past hurts. Whether you’re struggling with angry outbursts or fear getting bored of your relationship, our dedicated advocates can offer valuable tools and resources to help you center yourself and build stronger bonds.