"If you are always rushing on to the next moment, what happens to the one you are in?"
These days our lives are increasingly busier and more stressful, we’re so often frantically moving from one thing to the next. That’s why it’s important to take notice of what time zone your mind is in because we have so many emotions that pull us back and forth. Many people either live in the past, regretting actions, reactions or not taking action. They relive their hurt over events that were regrettable or painful, continuing in a never-ending circle of suffering. Or they live in the future, anxious of anything that can or might go wrong or wistfully thinking about a better grander, happier more beautiful life, if only they could do this or that. We cannot change the past, what’s done is done, so let that go. Just as we cannot foresee the future, life might take many different unexpected turns so the only place we should live – where our mind should focus – is in the present.
It sounds simple, but the ability to be happy in the moment tends to evade many of us. Happiness, however, comes from being content in the here and now. If you tend to find your mind wandering, keep reading for 5 tips to help you live in the present.
Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.
1. Limit Your Worries
There is a big difference between being prepared and worrying about things that haven’t even happened. It’s always smart to risk assess, to be aware and ready for the realistic, potential pitfalls in any situation. This knowledge allows you to prepare for all eventualities whether it’s your wedding day, you’re presenting at a conference or you’re buying a house. Beyond that, any worries you have that you go over and over in your mind, the ones that plague you right up until the event, and keep you up at night, these are not worth your energy. If you have prepared, you will be fine and if anything does go wrong you will be equipped to deal with it.
There is no point worrying about things that haven’t happened and may never happen! If you find your mind wandering to future scenarios, try to bring your thoughts back to the here and now. Place your attention on the leaves on the tree, the words your friend is saying, or the music that's playing around you, anything that will anchor you in the moment.
2. Fake It ‘Til You Make It
Smiling has been found to release the hormones dopamine, which increases feelings of happiness, and serotonin, which reduces stress. Kickstart your day with a smile and you are far more likely to feel happy in the moment and throughout the day. One study found that smiling, even during moments of adversity, helps to lower your heart rate after the stressful moment has passed.
3. Don’t Dwell
Much like worrying about the future, dwelling on the past is of no use either. Of course, we can all learn from past mistakes but replaying those moments over and over in your mind, or thinking about what you would have done differently is not a productive use of your time. If there is something you can do now, in the present, to make things better, then do it. But, if not, learn from your mistake and move on.
4. Learn to Single-Task
In today’s society, multi-tasking is applauded but, often, the more tasks we try to juggle at the same time the less chance we have of doing anything well. If you find yourself trying to do too many things at once, stop. Take a moment to write a to-do list and prioritise it. Start with the most urgent tasks and work your way through the list, one at a time. Once you have ticked everything off, take a moment to acknowledge how you feel. Chances are you'll be less frazzled than if you had tried to balance all those tasks at once.
5. Breathe Deep
If you find your mind is whirring, cartwheeling from one thought to the next, take a moment to move your attention away from your mind and onto your breath. Often, when we’re stressed our breathing becomes shallow and our shoulders rise and fall with each inhalation and exhalation. Instead, breathe deep so that your shoulders stay still but your belly inflates likes a balloon. Slow, deep, breathing has been found to calm the brain and also - at a rate of six breaths per minute - can even lower blood pressure.
Want to feel happy every day? Join the Rituals Happiness Challenge, with Mo Gawdat, former Chief Business Officer at Google [X] and author of Solve for Happy. It’s a 14-day interactive journey that will transform your life and help you find true, long-lasting happiness.
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