Want a more peaceful, content life?
Learning to keep your mind focused on the present moment is a tremendously positive achievement.
However, it is not easy.
There are all kinds of diversions that continually draw our attention elsewhere.
We fret about the past and we worry about the future. We strain toward tomorrow and we struggle against yesterday. Our minds wander like a kid in a candy store who just downed a 5-hour energy drink.
This leads to stress, anxiety and negative emotions. None of which are good.
We need a way – a trick – to keep our minds calm and centered on the here and now.
The Value of Focusing on the Present Moment
“Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
When we allow our attention to continually slip away from the present, we lose touch with real life. We become consumed with the past or the future. Neither of which can we control.
The only place where we can make a difference for ourselves and those around us is right here in the present moment.
That’s why it is useless getting yourself worked up and worried over anything else.
When you do, you diminish your effectiveness. Your traction starts to slip and you lose your momentum.
Keeping yourself grounded in the present moment is crucial for living an effective, successful, fulfilling life.
Yes, you occasionally have to plan for the future, but this too is a present moment activity. You consciously chose to use this moment to think about and organize your life. Nothing wrong with that.
What we want to avoid is those periods – which occur too frequently – where our thoughts stray and start generating worry, despair, stress, depression and a whole litany of other detrimental states of mind.
I would argue that almost every negative state of mind is a result of thoughts that are far away from the present moment. Therefore, if we can learn to stay in the moment, we can increase our overall sense of peace, happiness and contentment. That’s pretty powerful stuff!
A Trick to Return to the Present Moment
I’ve learned a technique that really helps me pull myself back into the present moment.
Anytime I start feeling any sort of negative emotion – worry, anxiety, unhappiness, despair – I simply use this technique to pull my mind back to the present and to calm my runaway emotions down.
When I recognize that I’m being negative, I force myself to run through this exercise.
(pay attention because this is the mental trick I’ve learned to use)
I take a deep breath, mentally evaluate my present circumstances and start giving thanks for the following:
- Right this minute, my family and I are safe and feel no threats to our safety.
- Right this minute, I am well-fed.
- Right this minute, no one is upset at me.
- Right this minute, I am healthy enough to do what I need and want to do.
- Right this minute, I have enough money to meet my obligations.
- Right this minute, I have everything I need.
- Right this minute, I really have nothing to be upset about. I am fed. I am safe. I am comfortable. I am healthy. I have a little money. None of my loved ones are in serious trouble. I have everything I need in this moment. Everything is okay. Right this minute, everything is fine.
Here are a few application notes to help you understand and apply this trick:
As I stated above (in italics for emphasis), I force myself to do this. I don’t usually want to (a symptom of my negative state of mind), but I do it anyway because I know it will help.
I do not go through this verbatim every time. I ad-lib a little in each instance. Above is just an example, but it gives you a clear idea of how the technique works.
I keep repeating these kinds of positive statements out loud to focus my mind on them until my emotions calm down. It might take 2 minutes or 5 minutes.
Obviously, you do this in a place where you have some privacy (so no one thinks you’ve completely lost your marbles).
BUT, it works every time.
Here’s why. It is impossible for your brain to hold on to negative thoughts while you are repeatedly running positive thoughts through it over and over again.
Your emotions are a by-product of your thoughts. Therefore, this technique not only helps you to appreciate where you are (situationally speaking) in the present moment, but it also helps to cure your blues.
Directing your thoughts back to your actual circumstances in this moment and away from worrying about the future or fretting about the past, you increase your peace, happiness and contentment.
I’ve practiced this for a while now and I’m telling you about it because it has helped me in a significant way.
Live in the Present Moment
“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I can tell you from experience, learning to live in the present moment is powerful. It is definitely helping me to be happier.
With few exceptions, every negative emotion, state of mind and feeling you experience is a direct result of letting your thoughts dwell on the past or the future for too long. This is the source of most of your dread, regret and stress.
Learning to use a trick like the one I’ve shown you today to bring yourself back into the present moment is priceless.
Give this technique a try and let me know how it works for you.
If you have something different that works, please share it in the comments on my site so we can all benefit.