Today I am aching for some sunshine and salt water. Right now though, it is 24 degrees and post-blizzard in New York City. Lately, I've been finding myself not being able to be present for the current season of life I am living. My present circumstances look a little like this: I am balancing several streams of income, going after at least three different creative projects, and also itching for something brand new and totally different. I am in a constant state of planning, creating, and dreaming about the next season. Although it can be a positive thing to dream, create, and plan for the future, the downfall is that you miss out on the life that is happening right now!
That is where I have had to learn about being present and grateful in the now. If I am going to talk to you about joyful living and optimal living - well the most important thing I think we can all learn is how to live in the present, even if your current present circumstances are not your all time favorite. It is important to learn to live in the present because here is the thing about the present:
Real living is happening now, even if it's not exactly where you want it to be just yet, it is going doooown! It is not in the future that you're planning for and it is not in the past that you are holding on to. It is right now in this very moment.
Learning to be intentionally present in the now has taken me some SERIOUS practice. I am someone who constantly is dreaming about the future, distracted by the next thing on the to-do list, or (confession) so wired to just pick up my phone and start scrolling through social media the moment there is a second of calm in my present now - I am constantly missing out on my life because I am not tuned in to the present! When I am not present in the now, I find myself feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and frustrated. It's quite exhausting. I've recognized this is something I have to work on. So, I have read up and tried several different ways to train my brain to stay focused on the present. Here is what is working for me so far:
Practicing gratitude. *Insert eye roll here*. I know this is probably the most cliche practice but gratitude works people! When I find myself overwhelmed and not enjoying my present moment, thinking of one thing that I am grateful for in that moment (like the fact that I am typing this under my covers in my comfy bed) allows me to plug in and find peace in the moment. And gratitude, I believe, is the root of joy.
Focus on what you CAN do. Many times I get overwhelmed by my to-do list and all the things that are going to take a long time to accomplish that it leads to me endlessly worrying. Focusing on what you can not do doesn't help anything. Focus on what you can do in that moment. What can you do that is good enough for right now? This can help you not waste your present moment by worrying, but instead continue to be productive and plugged in.
Try out some meditation or breathing exercises. Once again, this is something that I used to never be able to get in to because I felt like slowing down was the opposite of being productive and present in life. But through practice, I have seen the enormous benefits of even the shortest meditation practice. I am no guru when it comes to this stuff - but I always have more clarity, peace, creative ideas, and the ability to stay tuned in to the present because of meditation. If this is totally brand new to you - I would keep it super simple and start by downloading the calm app!
There are so many lessons we can all learn about being present in the now, such as we will never be this young again, so start today! Or you never know if the time you are spending with someone can be your last - so always tell them you love them. But all of those ideas are easier said than done when we have been living our life on auto-pilot and not even realizing that we aren't being present. So my hope is that these simple 3 steps can help you become more aware of when you are not being present and can help you tune back in!
Although I would love to be sipping a cocktail in the sun by the ocean in this moment, I am going to do my best to stay positive and grateful for all the seasons of life as I trek through the snow to work.
Sending you joy!
P.S. How do you get present in the now? Leave a comment below on what works for you or if you find any of the above practices to be helpful!