Happiness is staying present in everyday life. But what does staying present mean? We spend so much of our lives worrying about the future or mulling over things that happened in the past, that it’s easy for us to miss what is. What is – is the now, the present moment and it is in fact the only real moment.
The main challenge we face when we become prisoners of our past conditioning or lost in worry about our future is that the conversation these voices in our head are having tend to be negative in nature. We worry about the future and regret the past.
However if we can learn to become present by not continuously returning our attention to the past or the future then we become who we are in this moment, this presence becomes our identity, free from the ego.
How do we learn to stay present and experience the happiness we seek? We must be vigilant and practice awareness. In Carlos Castaneda’s books, Don Juan the Yaqui medicine man warned Castaneda that he needed to stand guard, preparing himself as a warrior would to defend against the powers that would seek to control him – he was speaking of the unconsciousness that takes over when we slip into thoughts of the past or the future.
There are practices that will help us with our vigilance. Eckhart Tolle offers a number of practices and Henrik of “the positivity Blog” offers us some others…
Here’s what works for me. Just a few simple things that I use in my normal day.Don’t aim for staying present all the time though. Because that is probably impossible and perfectionism tears self-esteem apart.Just focus on improving. That is what I have done. Little by little I have learned to stay present more and more during my day. I hope this guide can help you to do the same.
Single-task not only your work.
I and many others have often written and talked about the importance of single-tasking your work to get it done more effectively.
I have found that it becomes easier for me to stay present for more time throughout my day if I single-task everything as best I can.
That means to not use tabs when I browse the internet but to just be fully engaged with one thing online at a time. It means to not use my smartphone or my computer as I also try to watch the TV. Or to use any of those internet-devices during a conversation.
Get a good start to your day and set the tone for it by single-tasking as soon as you wake up.
If you have to multitask, then try to set off some specific time for it during your day. Maybe an hour or so in the afternoon.
Do it slowly.
When you wake up and starting doing your first thing of the day, then slow it down a bit.
Do it and the next few things at a relaxed and calm pace. It will probably not take that much longer than if you do it fast. And you’ll be able to stay present more easily, to focus on each thing you do and to find a simple joy or stillness in it.
Do that instead of increasing your stress right away and getting stuck in worries or though loops about what may happen today before you even have had your breakfast.
As you move through your day, try to do it slowly when you can. Walk or ride your bicycle a little slower. Talk slower (this not only makes you feel calmer but I have also found that people tend to listen better to what you say when you talk a little slower).
Tell yourself: now I am…
This is something I have started using quite recently and it helps my thoughts to not wander off.
As I do something I simply tell myself this in my mind: Now I am X.
For example, if I am brushing my teeth, then I tell myself: Now I am brushing my teeth.
This habit is maybe most important when doing things where it is easy to drift away to the future or past. It could be when you brush your hair or teeth or when you are taking a walk to the supermarket.
I don’t tell myself this line all the time, but I pepper it a bunch of times throughout my day.
Minimize the input to have less thoughts running around in your head.
If I check the email, Facebook and three newspaper websites online early in the day then I have found that I will have more thoughts bouncing around in my head. And so it becomes a lot harder to concentrate on anything, to stay present and to not be dragged away into some negative thought loop.
So the kind option towards myself has become to not check anything early in the day. And to check things as few times as I can. If I minimize such things then my day becomes lighter and simpler and I not only stay present more easily but I also tend to get more things of importance done. Continue reading here…
By remaining present we will not be spending so much time stuck in the past wallowing in guilt feeling over a failed relationship or a situation that didn’t go as planned or imagining worst case scenarios.
By cultivating presence and awareness we will realize that we have choices and that we can choose a different experience than the one that we had in the past or imagine in the future. With consciousness comes a connection to our inner most self, our true essence.
Sometimes this may sound a bit esoteric; it is anything but, because real happiness is staying present in everyday life, and the more you practice it the greater the joy you will experience.