How to Live in the Moment

Has anyone ever called you out, instructing you to ‘be present’ and ‘in the moment’? Do you find yourself unable to appreciate the things in life that you used to – like an amazing sunset, savoury meal or company of a loved one because you are too focused on the good, bad and everything in between of the past or future? Living in the moment is about learning to control persistent thoughts, fantasies and daydreams. Perhaps us urban young professionals can learn a thing or two from the Buddhists, who believe that those who live in the moment are the happiest. We realize, especially among busy, multi-tasking YPs, this is not always possible. We have a lot on our minds, after all, and are constantly running from point A to B. Some of us would rather save the slow living and moment savouring for retirement. But once a precious moment is gone, it can never be retrieved, and we find that rather, well, depressing. Here are eight ways you can live in the moment.

1) Focus, But Not Too Hard
If you find yourself in a situation that makes you anxious or uneasy, like mingling among strangers at a networking event, public speaking or letting loose on the dance floor, focusing too much on what you are doing will increase your levels of anxiety. You will become more self-aware and self-conscious as opposed to maintaining a level of focus but going freely with the flow and not overthinking your actions.

2) Don’t Worry or Fantasize About the Future or Lament About the Past
We remember a lyric from our favourite musical, RENT,There is no future, there is no past, I live each moment as my last,” as one that has resonated with us since we were teenagers. To be truly in the moment, think only about what is happening right then and there. Thoughts of the past or future may not necessarily be negative – one may fantasize about being on vacation, meeting the guy or girl of their dreams or of the hot date they had the week prior. 

3) Savour the Moment
Sometimes we busy, often entitled, “grass is always greener” YPs forget that we are lucky to be alive in the first place. When tragedy strikes and a loved one passes away, we temporarily gain a sense of this notion, but it inevitably fades with time. We sip our Tim Horton’s coffee and wish there was a Starbucks closer, or sit in a gorgeous boat, on a pristine lake and think, “this would be better if I wasn’t surrounded by couples,” instead of focusing on the positive, like that we have a coffee or are in a boat in the first place. Look for the beauty in every day occurrences, no matter how small these may be.

4) Connect with Present Company
So many times in conversations, we are not really connected, but thinking about what we or the other person is going to say next. We may hear, but not actually listen. We may only half listen, with our eyes darting from the other person, to our smartphones, to the people at the next table over. Instead, focus on being present and truly engaging with the other person and what he or she is actually saying rather than calculating where the conversation will head, what others around you are doing or other stimuli that surrounds you. 

5) Do One Thing at a Time
It is impossible to be present in the moment if your attention is split among multiple tasks, even if it is something as simple as talking on the phone while on the computer. Single task as opposed to multitask; it is more effective to do one thing really well than perform multiple talks at half effort. In performing one task at a time, don’t rush it. Rather, make sure your actions are deliberate and focused. Always a difficult task for young professionals, try leaving yourself enough time between meetings, appointments and social engagements so that you are not rushed and each action receives your entire focus.

6) Breathe
No surprise to yoga-loving YPs around the globe, there are few better ways to bring oneself down to earth and in the present moment than to focus on breathing. Meditative techniques designed to help the one live in the present moment are a central element to Buddhist teachings. Focusing on the breath places one’s awareness on what’s happening right there and now, releases anxiety, and puts you securely in the in the present because it is always there with you.

7) Accept
Accept the things you cannot change. There will always be slow-walking people on subway stairs on your morning commute, your ex isn’t going to break up with his or her fiancé anytime soon, and your can’t take back words once they escape your mouth. Stop wasting your energy stressing about such things.

8) Surround Yourself With Others Who Live in the Moment
You are the company you keep. Negativity and anxiety are contagious. If your present company is unable to live in the moment, you won’t be able to either.