The Benefits of Becoming More Present in Life

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If you find yourself going through the motions in life instead of making the most of the present, you're robbing yourself of opportunities for happiness and growth.

Improved Social Skills

If you find yourself uncomfortable and anxious in social situations, being present provides a solution and releases the need for self-consciousness. When focusing on the present situation or the present conversation, your mind no longer lingers on past scenarios that may not have ended well, or future scenarios which have not happened yet and probably never will. 

A successful strategy for staying in the present during social situations involves pretending you are meeting with one of your best friends. It helps begin your interaction with a positive frame of mind, instead of nervousness and insecurity. Being with friends means enjoying the moment and not concerning yourself with what's happening later or what happened last night.

Instead of worrying about things you can't possibly change, you're giving your full attention to the person you are with. Your mindfulness in social situations transforms your body language, sending out positive signals to those with whom you are interacting. This opens yourself to fulfilling relationships.

Take Action: The next time you find yourself in a social situation, practice being present by giving your full attention during conversation. Treat this person as you would want yourbest friend to be treated.

Decrease Life Stress

How much of your day do you spend worrying? At its core, worrying gives you the false impression that you're doing something to solve a problem without actually doing anything. The next time you find yourself worrying or overthinking a problem, take action instead. If taking action isn't possible, then stop thinking about it until you can take action.

Anyone who's suffered from chronic worrying or overthinking, however, understands the difficulty of  changing negative thought patterns. The next time you find yourself worrying over something you cannot control or take action on in the present, try a deep breathing exercise. Take 3 to 5 deep belly breaths. As you focus exclusively on the in and out breaths, you connect with the present moment instead of the past or future worry that's been causing stress.

Take Action: The next time you find yourself worrying, identify the problem and determine whether you can take action to solve the problem at that time. If you can, then take action. If you can't, use belly breathing to refocus on the now.

Creativity and Productivity

You cannot produce and create while going through the motions of life. Athletes and artists talk about being "in the zone." When you are in the zone, you are so focused on what is taking place now, that things slow down, your mind sheds clutter, and creativity flows. There's no bogging down the process with fears, doubts, and worries. There's only creativity.

Before getting to work on your next project, declutter your physical space. These things serve to distract you from the your task by reminding you of things coming up or things in the past. Once you've decluttered your physical space, declutter your mind.

Take Action: Before beginning a new project, organize and declutter your work area. Remove anything that might distract you from the present task.

Gratitude and Appreciation

Too many people find themselves reveling in future happiness instead of appreciating their current state. If you find yourself beginning sentences with "When I..." and finishing them with "...then I'll be happy," you never will be. Thinking about how happy you'll be when you meet that special someone, for example, or when you get that promotion, or when you buy that dress, or when you lose 10 pounds robs yourself of the happiness you deserve now.

Be in the present. Stop analyzing and judging others, your situation, and yourself. Stop focusing on future happiness and start focusing on present happiness. The next time you find yourself dreaming about how happy you'll be when you reach a particular life milestone, stop and think about what you are happy about now.

Take Action: Before you go to bed, journal about something good that happened that day. You'll constantly remind yourself that you have so many reasons to be happy now as you strive to accomplish your goals and dreams.

Becoming Present

When you feel yourself slipping into the "un-present" too often, these habits will help you refocus.

  • Focus on what's right in front of you, right now.

  • Focus on breathing. This might mean taking a break from your current task to regroup and refocus.
  • Model behavior. If you know of someone who maintains a present-focused life, model his or her habits and demeanor.
  • Stop resisting emotions caused by past events. Accept them and they no longer control you. Resist them and they get stronger.
  • Act as if what you're doing is the first time you've done it.
  • Remind yourself. Put a sign on your desk or put a penny in your shoe or whatever reminder it takes to help you stay in the present and enjoy life more.

Start enjoying the life you deserve by enjoying the only time you have--the present.