We are all aware how fleeting the present moment can be, and yet it is all too common to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and let the present slip away.
It might just be human nature, but many of us focus all of our energy into thoughts about the future or get stuck reliving the past while the present moment simply passes by.
It’s easy to see how it happens: our lives are busy, schedules are hectic and stress and anxiety is a way of life. Our lives are fast paced and we hurry through each moment in order to get to the next.
This is why it’s so important to understand just why focusing on living in the present is so significant for our psychological, physical and emotional well being.
What does it mean to be in the present moment?
Being present is being mindful. So, first of all, let’s see what mindfulness means and how you can stay present minded.
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present . When you think about being present in the moment as an act of being mindful, you put yourself in complete control of your own experience.
Stepping back from the rat race to focus on the moment at hand allows you to recognize your feelings, thoughts and emotions in real time. It’s like taking a blurry, up close and out of focus snapshot and backing away in order for the details to become clearer. By tuning into your current surroundings you are able to understand and appreciate your experiences even more.
And sure, that’s all well and good. But what does it mean, exactly, and why is it important? Here’s the deal: being in the present moment, “living in the now,” or being mindful- whichever you choose to call it, is backed up by some pretty convincing research.
Is living in the moment a good thing?
For starters, being in the present helps not only your focus, but your concentration, learning ability, listening skills and memory as well. This focus translates to a connectedness both with yourself as well as with what’s going on around you. It allows you to see the details of your existence and ensures that you won’t “miss anything.”
Of course, being present doesn’t mean you need to drive yourself crazy trying to focus on everything, all the time. That would be impossible and probably pretty unrewarding as well. But the idea is to find the balance between looking towards the future, ruminating on the past, and living in the present.
Start by simply waking up and acknowledging how you’re feeling. Or commit to certain times of the day to disconnect from technology and just be - either by yourself or in the company of others. Put the distractions away and stop multitasking while you’re eating and simply focus on the meal in front of you.
There are hundreds of moments throughout the day where you can stop, take a step back, and acknowledge the present moment along with your thoughts and emotions in that moment. Though that balance will look different for all of us, you’ll know you’ve found the right place when you start seeing some of the psychological and physical benefits above.
Benefits of living in the present moment
Mindfulness is also linked to a decrease in stress and anxiety. As you ground yourself in the present moment, you place less emphasis on the things that worry you and cause extra stress in your life. What’s more, living in the now allows you to cope with stress and other negative emotions in a healthier way.
Being present in your life actually makes you a happier, healthier human being, as it leads to better moods, more energy, less emotional distress and can even lessen emotional exhaustion in the workplace.
Mindfulness allows you to better regulate your emotions, as well as practice gratitude and empathy. Being present minded can even potentially combat obesity , as people who practice mindfulness during mealtimes tend to choose healthier foods and eat them more slowly - leading to better overall eating habits as well as less calories taken in overall.
Finally, being present in the moment equips you with the tools to distinguish between what is truly important and what isn’t.