“Live in the moment” might sound like the most cliche advice you’ll ever hear. But, here’s the thing about cliches, more often than not they are true. The hustle culture and the fast past lifestyle have made it difficult for people to even pause and relax let alone live in the moment.
Today, I am going to talk about different ways to live in the moment when you are struggling in life. Irrespective of at what stage you’re in life, the struggle is inevitable. All of us are going through some kind of struggle every day. The struggle is subjective because its meaning is different for all of us. What I perceive as a struggle today might be the point of success for someone else.
How to live in the moment when you are struggling in life?
To live in the moment is about having a sense of being. This blog is my attempt to simplify the “live in the moment” perception with lots of practical insights from my personal experience and how they’ve helped me as I build a writing habit and my freelance writing business. Let’s begin.
What does it mean to live in the moment?
To live in the moment means to be more present at the moment. It means to be aware of your surroundings and yourself. The human attention span has decreased drastically over the years. With so many distractions at your fingertips, it has become challenging to focus and concentrate.
Thus, the simple meaning to live in the moment is to stay focused and get involved in what’s happening right now, to live mindfully is about being present both physically and mentally.
But, is it as easy as it sounds? Not really!
Staying focused is one of the most difficult things to do. Why do you think it is so difficult for people to stay focused? Let’s understand!
Why is it hard to live in the moment?
Carpediem: Seize the day. But, is it so easy to seize the day? Is it so easy to let go of the past or not worry about your future when nothing is in your control? Is it easy to live in the moment?
You might have heard a lot about it from the self-improvement and personal development personalities. My experience so far is that it’s not easy to release your thoughts of the past and future. It is not easy to let go of the regrets you have. It is also not easy to give up thinking about the future when you know your present is slipping from your hands.
It requires a lot of deconstruction and reconstruction of your thoughts. You need to rewire your brain and train it to live in the moment. It is this ability that separates humans from other species.
It is this awareness that distinguishes us from the other species that share the planet with us. It is our reliance on learning, planning, and execution that makes it so hard for us to live in the present moment. Learning requires knowledge from the past and planning requires thinking about the future. It is only the execution that lets us live in the moment.
It is the basic nature of the human mind to dwell in the past or worry about the future. From all the three dimensions that time offers you, it is only the present that comes with a guarantee.
You learn to live in the moment by observing your thoughts and feelings. I learned this technique while listening to a podcast by Kathrin Zenkina where she asks you to step outside of your mind and judge it like a second person. You can also assign a name to this version of you so that you can talk to them like you would to a friend. The goal is to bring yourself back to now whenever it tries to wander in the past or linger in the future.
Research suggests that when you learn to control your thoughts and begin to live in the present, you are happier and devoid of stress. Because you let go of what could have been and what will be. You become more accepting of what it is.
Is life better when you live in the moment?
Living in the moment is a skill not everyone can master. This is why most people spend their life chasing happiness instead of cultivating it within themselves.
Everyday mindfulness practice and living in the present have several intellectual benefits. Here are a few that top my list:
1. It becomes easier to overcome your cravings
Cravings can happen anytime anywhere. When you practice living at the moment you don’t respond to unnecessary cravings by fulfilling them. Instead, now that you are aware of it you respond to it by indulging yourself in a task that would take your mind off of the craving.
To live in the moment isn’t just about living in happy times. It is also about the self-awareness of spotting your negative thoughts and getting a hold of them.
2. Big projects become more doable
Living in the hustle culture has made us susceptible to constantly chasing “big” things. Our generation is filled with impatience. Hence, all of us are in a hurry to achieve the next big thing. When you live in the moment, you understand the importance of small tasks. You accept that transformations take time. They are not an overnight occurrence.
Living in the moment makes you respect the time and understand the requirement of the moment. You don’t chase the final goal anymore. You focus on the input you can deliver in the present.
3. Your sense of security improves
Being mindful to live in the moment improves your sense of security. You don’t see others’ success as your failure. You don’t let the social media comparison drive you nuts because you acknowledge and respect the difference in personalities. You meet people and feel the humanness in them instead of the titles they bear.
Social positions and status doesn’t appeal to you as much as the person’s behavior does. There are fewer or no feelings of inferiority and superiority when you learn to be more present.
How do you live in the moment?
While there’s so much talk about the “live in the moment” thing. Let’s get straight into the 9 ways that will help you to live in the moment:
1. Control your wandering mind
The human mind is the most powerful tool that has ever existed. It can take you to places without even visiting. It wanders a lot. This is what restricts you from living in the moment. It’s the era of distraction. The focus is so fragile that a simple phone notification can distract us for hours. This doesn’t only affect your concentration but also impacts your productivity.
It is important to control your wandering mind. The goal is to control those unwanted thoughts and stay connected to where you are (and who you are with).
2. Physical Movement
I provide freelance copywriting services to my clients in the wellness and self-improvement space for 2.5 years. Time and again, I have had opportunities where I have got to learn about the importance of physical movement for holistic wellness. It’s been a few months since I have been practicing yoga and walking 10,000 steps every day and they have had a significant impact on my well-being.
Yoga teaches you to center and ground yourself to live in the moment and become more conscious of your presence. You can also go for other options like exercising or swimming.
3. Focus on one thing at a time
The tendency to achieve everything at once has hampered your focus by many folds. It may seem like a proud thing but it isn’t. Multitasking not only delays the process of work but also affects its quality. It has ruined your power to concentrate and your ability to live in the moment. The right way is to commit to one task at a time and be fully devoted to it.
You achieve it with self-awareness. Whenever you find yourself multitasking the next time, make sure you stop switching between tasks and focus on the important ones.
4. Practice focusing on the positive
There is a lot of negativity around you (and sometimes within you). But, there is a lot of positivity too. It all comes down to your choice of emotional investment. Instead of focusing on the things that are going wrong, start focusing on things that are going right in your life. To be grateful for what you have is an important sign of living in the moment.
Inculcate gratitude in your daily life. Be it through journaling, meditating, or praying. Gratitude is a lifestyle you build slowly. It helps you to gain the right perspective on life.
5. Don’t complain but adapt
Life won’t always go as you want. While you taste success occasionally, there will be clouds of dissatisfaction too. But you cannot always sit and complain. When you live in the moment you also learn to adapt to the circumstances. Because there is no place for what was or what will be. Your focus improves on the present.
Time management is important but sometimes acceptance of the situation and flowing with it is the best you can do. The choice is yours to overthink or just live in the moment and let it be.
6. Ask for help
Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. There is a lot of glorification of the hustle culture and struggling mentally when things overflow. The truth is you don’t have to be the knight in shining armor always. Sometimes it’s best to seek help, especially when you know you need it. Instead of being a control freak, it is better to admit that you don’t want to be in the one-person army.
You begin to live in the moment because you spend time doing things that make you feel good about yourself. So go ahead and delegate the work that doesn’t appeal to you.
7. Cut the technology
You are surrounded by technology all around the clock. The connection you built with your gadgets is unfortunately stronger than that you have with your family or friends. Technology is meant to be a helping hand, not the only hand we hold all day long. To top it with social media addiction is a different game of self-sabotage altogether.
Take regular technology breaks to stay connected to the real world around you. It’s time to acknowledge this unwanted addiction and get your life back on track.
8. Accept the seasons of life
Change is the rule of nature. Nothing stays constant. As emotional beings, we are bound to develop attachments and connections that give birth to expectations of not wanting change. But life doesn’t work according to our choices always. Change is the only constant and accepting it makes you smart.
You have to accept that time will flow at its speed. Just like everything else, there will be seasons of emotions in your life too and all you can do is live in the moment fully and embrace life as it comes.
9. Let go of your past and future
Dwelling on your past achievements or soaking in the hurt won’t make your present any time better. Similarly, overthinking about the future won’t give you some magic potion to change it. All you have is now to live in the moment. If there’s anything in your control, it’s your present life. All you can do to improve your future is to let be mindful of your present actions.
The only time you should live in the past is to cherish good memories. Other than that, carrying resentment or feeling hatred will only lead you to emotional turmoil that will harm you more than it does anything to anybody else. Moving on is a gift you give to your younger self.
How do you live in the present moment while still preparing your life for the future?
Planning for your future is important. But so is living in the moment. While the former makes you feel satisfied, the latter fills you with peace and gratitude. The problem arrives when you aim to do both simultaneously at one given moment. It becomes a problem when you start obsessing over the future and neglect your present life.
There is no size fit all remedy for this situation. It varies from person to person. However, some best practices to find the balance between living your present life and working towards building your future are:
1. Self-awareness and self-reflection
Self-awareness is the key to creating your desired life. You cannot continue dreaming only and not knowing where you are going. Yes, it is good to go with the flow. But, you should at least be aware of the direction of the flow.
Self-reflection is a very powerful practice to become self-aware. It lets you analyze your past and plan for your future based on the success and failure of what has worked and what hasn’t worked. I recently published 4 self-reflection habits that have helped me in my newsletter called The Wellwords Newsletter. You can read more about it here.
2. Creating actionable plans
I am a big believer in achieving small, everyday goals instead of obsessing over the goal itself. And this is what creating actionable plans looks like. The rule is simple: Don’t focus on the whole ladder and get anxious about how to climb it, just focus on the next step.
As you learn to live in the moment, you can take care of your future in the best possible manner by doing what’s in your control: taking action toward it. In the end, you can only control your present and if you are sincere about creating a future that makes you feel fulfilled, no motivational quotes or inspiration will do any good. It is only your discipline that counts.
3. Tracking your progress
I have been in the writing profession for two years now. This is my biggest lesson: As long as you’re willing to take steps that help you to stay in the game, you’re already ahead of a lot of people. And if you’re here reading this till now, that means you care to stay on track with your goals.
Tracking your progress is another important way to live in the moment as you plan for your future. There are different ways to track your progress. You can document your journey by “vlogging” it, start a blog like this, or simply keep a journal for yourself. While the first two will help you to share your journey with strangers and inspire them, the latter is something you do for yourself.
Living in the moment isn’t just advice or a fashionable phrase used to paint a rosy picture filled with contentment. Instead, it is a lifestyle that allows people to stay connected with where they are in life. It keeps them closer to reality and gives them the strength and courage to stay consistent with their efforts. It improves the relationship you build with yourself.
I hope my attempt to justify the “live in the moment” perception was a help for you to understand the topic better.
I have returned to my blog after a long break and I intend to continue working towards a lot more consistency going forward.
What is your take on the ‘live in the moment” lifestyle? Don’t forget to share your comments below. I’ll see you soon.