“Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment you cannot live in the moments of your daily life deeply” – Thich Nhat Hanh
All you really own is this very moment. Your past is just a historical record, and your future hasn’t come into existence. Everything in your life is created by what you do (or don’t do) here and now.
Most of us struggle to stay in the present moment. We are constantly plagued by the past or worried about the future. Some us continually wonder if we “could’ve done better” and others are making plans to accomplish all of the “things we need to do later”. There are those who can’t wait for things to be over, and those who wonder why they don’t have enough time.
Well the time is NOW.
Living in the here and now is a significant challenge for many of us who live in the “Age of Distraction” with all of our status updates, alerts, alarms, emails, messages, texts, tweets; the demands and responsibilities of our jobs, our families, our friends constantly drain our energy, attention, and focus. When we become so overwhelmed with sensory data from everyday living, we begin to lose the capacity to stay present. There was a recent study done about how people today have an attention span shorter than a goldfish.
I recall my first few experiences learning mediation. We were introduced to different practices to help us cultivate present-centeredness; however, I would constantly focus on what I had to later on that day – grocery shopping, writing a paper, and making an appointment – so much I didn’t even notice I was even in class.
If you truly desire making meaningful and lasting changes in your life, the time to do it is right NOW. Change has never happened in the past or in the future, as it can only be created here and now. Learning how to keep your attention focused in the present moment will help you become proactive in achieving your life goals.
Do not deceive yourself thinking “I’ll do it later”, or “I don’t have the time”, or “I have other things to do”, or “Maybe someday…” Procrastination is a mind killer, the Destroyer of hopes and dreams. I should know. I’m one of the many who is well versed in the Art of Procrastination, and I (use to) regret all the time and energy I wasted on avoiding taking action to create a life I truly desire.
We delude ourselves by thinking we have infinite time here on this earth to use as we please. We deny the inevitable truth that someday we’re going to die, and we may never see our hopes, dreams, and aspirations come alive. The trick is we never know when that time will be. Most of us believe we’re going to have long lives, but how many stories do you hear of young men, women, and especially children dying in unexpected and “freak” ways? How many of you experienced an unexpected or tragic death in your life?
Just because we’re going to die doesn’t mean we have to be petrified with a fear of death. Instead, use your unknown death date as an inspiration to live fully in the present moment.
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, contemplation and meditation on death and impermanence were of vital importance for two reasons: 1) it helps us to recognize how precious and short our life-span truly is, and how to live life more meaningfully; 2) to familiarize ourselves with the life-death cycle (samsara) so we can remove our fear of death and ensure a good rebirth.
In order to start living fully in the present moment, we need to slow ourselves down and reflect on what is truly meaningful to us RIGHT NOW!
5 Ways to Help You Start Living Life NOW:
1. Take a deep breath and slow yourself down: When we start to feel distressed and overwhelmed, we lose connection to our bodies and to the present moment. Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system - the part of our nervous system that helps us “rest and digest” – which helps to calm down the mind and body. When you notice yourself feeling overwhelmed, take several deep breaths to slow yourself down and be more present.
2. List everything valuable and meaningful you want to achieve: Write down as many personal goals, professional goals, material goals, and relationship goals you want to achieve before you die. What do you want to do? Who do you want to become? What kind of impact do you want to have on others? What goals have you been putting off? What do you want to create or achieve? What is something you want to master? What “things” do you want to possess? Write as many things as you can.
* Extra Help: Rate each goal you write down on a scale of 1-100 (1 = Least Important, 100 = Extremely Important) to help you prioritize what is the most important to you.
3. Write down WHY these goals are important to you: Take a few moments to reflect on why these goals are significant to you. What makes them so precious and valuable? Imagine who you would become and what your life would look like if you were to achieve all of your goals. Use your “why’s” to give your leverage and motivation.
4. Imagine yourself on your death bed: Using some guided imagery, visualize yourself in old age sitting on your death bed, reflecting on all the years of your life. In doing so, what would it be like if you never achieved your life goals? You never learned how to fly, or opened your own business, or asked someone you found attractive out. Imagine how much pain you would experience as a result. Now do the opposite, but instead imagine the pleasure and joy you would experience if you accomplished all the goals you wrote down. How does it feel to succeed in everything you desired to achieve? What would your life look like? How would you be different?
5. Choose 3 goals & 3 action steps: Choose 3 goals you’re willing and able to accomplish in the next year. Now, write down 3 action steps for each goal you’re willing to take RIGHT NOW. The clearer and more detailed you are in outlining each action step, the easier it will be for you to be proactive in achieving them.
By focusing on what we can do in the present moment to change our lives and realize our goals, instead of becoming ensnared and powerless by what we can’t do, our mind shifts gears to become more proactive in finding ways we can accomplish our goals.
There is a latent power which sleeps deep within you. I strongly believe you have everything it takes to create a life of your choosing, a life filled with meaning, passion, and abundance; however, you may not have all the time in the world to create it.
Don’t waste any more time than you already have. Take action, because the time to create the life you desire is NOW.