You live your life day to day, just like anyone else it seems. But shouldn’t there be more to life? Shouldn’t you be able to find true happiness more easily than it’s often portrayed? I say, definitely! And there are different roads that lead to that same destination. One of those roads is learning how to live in the moment. It enables you to find true happiness in everyday life. Don’t believe me? Read on and find out how!
What does it mean to live in the moment?
Living in the moment can mean a lot of things. From being ‘centered’ to living in and as consciousness (whatever that means exactly) to experiencing yourself and the sensations around you without uncontrolled thought or distractions. That last one is what we’ll be focusing on in this post.
So no uncontrolled thought or distraction. These are often what keep you in the past or in the future, which obviously is not in the present moment. Let me also preface that it’s not necessarily bad to be in the past or in the future. You just need to be aware of it and make sure that you aren’t dominated by these thoughts and experiences.
To put it simply. There’s no use in dwelling in the past or dreaming of the future. Everything you are and all you do is here, now, in the moment. That’s where you make the difference.
Now, what does living in the moment actually look like?
I’ve found that there are different levels or layers to this based on everyone’s perception, ability, and need to live in the moment. There predominantly are two types of living in the moment. You can:
- Be deeply and consciously in the present moment (meditation, deep focus, breathwork, putting in some type of effort to stay present)
- Have a soft focus on living in the moment (having a walk while paying attention to detail, paying attention to your body and/or mind when doing an activity
This is what we’ll be focusing on and trust me, it’s worth putting some time and effort into cultivating this skill. Living in the moment can be seen as (one of the) the center goals of mindfulness practice and the benefits are amazing and seemingly infinite. The deeper you get into this, the more you’ll discover its benefits!
Why should you learn how to live in the moment?
If you focus on occurrences of the past and try to explain everything you know through cause and effect, you end up with determinism. This is the belief that everything is determined through cause and effect without any regard to your own will. Meaning that your life is predetermined by past events.
This can, of course, be a way for you to live, but I’m choosing a life where I at least have the belief that what I do now will make a difference and that nothing is set in stone.
The future will keep you trapped in a likewise manner. Only thinking about what you want to achieve or how you’re going to achieve it without ever being present completely robs you of your happiness. I’m not saying you need to disregard goal setting and planning. Just don’t be too caught up with it to the extent that your thoughts are only of the future and the past.
The past can’t be changed so why would you let yourself get stuck there? You’re only uselessly tormenting yourself by doing it. The same holds true with the future. It will only make you have an outcome-oriented mindset. We should all already know that the journey is the most important part – how cliché it may be – and the journey is where the present is!
This deterministic way of looking at things will keep you trapped in your thoughts, which single-handedly prevents you from really living in the present moment.
So you see, the here and now is all you really have. Time is an illusion, which means the past and the future both are an illusion as well since these are moments in time. This makes me believe that the past and future simply don’t exist. And why would you put your time and energy into something that doesn’t even exist?
So what about the present moment? Well, it’s where all the goodness is. Happiness, fulfillment, meaning, beauty, ease, it’s all in the present. Nowhere else!
How social media prevents you from living in the moment
I won’t be the first one to tell you that technology has ruined our world and I’m still in my twenties so you know how bad it’s gotten. Sure, it has a lot of upsides as well. But looking at the nature of our being and at what it means to be human, are we still in touch with that?
I think we’ve long crossed the point of no return. Unless something catastrophic happens, which will wipe the earth clean of most, if not all, of the technology that’s currently present, we’re left to battle this on our own.
So how does technology – and social media in particular – make it harder for us to really live in the moment and be present?
First, it has shortened our attention spans. All these social media messages that are read and scrolled through in a matter of seconds simply reduces your attention span. You only focus for a few minutes at a time (at most) when doing this so your mind will get used to it.
Second, technology has increased the ‘need’ for instant gratification. When you feel bored, what do you do? Most people dive face-first into their phones and scroll mindlessly through social media or open a message from a friend or loved one. Both of which give you a dopamine shot. This makes you more likely to do it again when you feel bored for even a second. I’m sure you can imagine that this process is also responsible for certain types of phone addiction.
Looking at the bigger picture, I think it’s safe to say that this way of using technology has also caused more anxiety and depression in the world. People aren’t satisfied anymore with what they’re doing. Technology makes their mind lazy and people often feel that that’s just the way it is so nothing will change.
I think we’ve forgotten that technology should serve us, not enslave us.
How to live in the moment – 5 ways!
Now, to break free of the spell most people are trapped in, here are 5 ways that show you how to live in the moment!
1. Change the meaning you attribute to past events
You can’t avoid thinking about the past, but you can change how you think about the past so you’re able to let it go more easily. The key here is to live without being controlled by the past. You do this by having a subjective stance towards the past.
Say you feel bad because of something that happened a week ago. The thing that happened is objective, it’s a fact. But how you approach it is subjective. The objectivity of something doesn’t need to remain your point of view. In fact, it’s useless if it does!
So regardless of what happens in the past, you have the power to focus on what you CAN change. Sticking to that bad thing that happened last week; one way to look at it is to see it as an opportunity. Instead of dwelling on the objective, focus on the subjective. Think about what you can do to change going forward and you’ll be more in control and have a sense of living in the moment.
As psychologist Alfred Adler said: ”Life, in general, has no meaning. Whatever meaning life has must be assigned to it by the individual.”
And this is to be done in the present moment!
2. Paying attention to detail and enjoying the small things in life
These are actually two things, but they’re pretty similar in my opinion so here we go.
An easy way to go into ‘living in the moment mode’ is by paying attention to detail. It doesn’t matter where you are and what you’re doing. Just calm your mind by not thinking of anything specific and noticing the detail in anything you see, feel or hear. Of course, this is the easiest to do while focusing your vision on something.
Look at the detail of the trees, flowers, buildings, clouds, really anything. Doing this almost instantly rids your mind of thought and puts you in the moment. The same can be done by focusing on your own movement when you’re walking, for example. So, focus on your senses, because smell, noise, and taste can also put you in the moment with the right focus!
But where does enjoying the small things come into play? Well, focusing on these small things such as the trees and noticing the beauty of the sensations of everyday life will likely make you appreciate and enjoy these small things more.
It’s as simple as that. You have no excuse not to do this. Next time you go for a walk or have nothing to do, use these tips and step into the present moment!
3. A social media detox
I already mentioned the toxicity of technology and social media so this point shouldn’t come as a surprise. I know, a social media detox is something you’re probably not going to do. After all, you probably don’t even feel the need to change anything since you might not be noticing the negative influences.
And this is exactly the trap I want to protect you from. Part of social media’s toxicity comes from its sneaky ways to influence us. Algorithms make it increasingly harder for us to notice when these apps and messages are actually hurting us instead of serving us.
Do yourself a favor and take on this challenge. You can do it any way you like.
- Quit social media for an X number of days or hours
- Delete some of the most time-consuming and/or useless apps
- Set a limit on how often and how long you can use your phone or certain apps
- Get yourself an accountability partner to do this with!
This should get you started with this one, good luck!
4. Any mindfulness practice
Any mindfulness practice, whether it’s the main goal of the practice or not, can help you to live more in the moment. I regularly talk about mindfulness on this blog so this shouldn’t come as a surprise either. The thing is, mindfulness practice is a proven way of improving a lot of aspects of your life. Living in the moment and finding true happiness in life are a part of this!
So what are mindfulness practices? I bet you can name a few of the best-known ones, which arguably are:
Getting started with these is often relatively easy. But HOW do you get started? I’ll share a few posts, which explain some of the practices I just mentioned so you have a starting point.
5. Focusing on the journey, not the outcome
An overused cliché, but trust me, it’s key to living a happy life.
If you still think that everything revolves around getting results, you’re badly mistaking. Psychology shows us that by focusing on the journey and the skills you need along this journey, you’ll be more likely to hit your desired outcome. That is, without even focusing on it!
There’s less room for ‘failure’ this way as well, because how can you fail if you’re focusing not on the results, but the road TO those results? All you have to do is improve and get joy from the fact that you’re improving!
Don’t overcomplicate your life. Don’t take it too seriously. Do your thing and aim to get better every day!
That’s it! You now have a solid starting point for living more in the present moment so you can start living life, not as a subject to it, but as a director of it.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on social media using one of the buttons below, or leave me a comment with your thoughts!
Would also love to see you pop in on Twitter as I’m most active there. Take care, see you soon!