7 Ways To Stay in "the Now"
Lately, I have been feeling like the world has been tossing me around. When my life feels uncertain, all I want to do is plan. I ruminate in the past and plan for the future on a consistent basis. Why? I focus on the past in my mind because it happened. It is certain. The future, however, is not certain, and when I plan it, it makes me less scared. It makes me feel more in control. Until the planning drives me crazy of course.
As humans, all we want is certainty. We obviously need to occasionally plan, but if we didn't have some uncertainty, our lives would be utterly boring. When life is at a loss of certainty, we tend to grab onto any comfort we can find. Any place but here. Any place but now. But, why the future? I'll let you in on a secret. You can't resolve the future because it has not happened, so all that planning is doing nothing but waste your time. I realize that no matter what, all I have is now. Now, now now. That’s it! As a pal, let me tell you. The present is where it’s at. If you don’t believe me, take a peek below at some ways you can start improving your life.
1. ASK YOURSELF IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
How in the world is the future any more certain-- a place that doesn't necessarily exist? Humans like to live in the future (or the past) because we feel out of control in the now. And, we want the future to be better. So we plan it. We like to know exactly where the present self is stepping in to, and that comes with a lot of rumination of the past and planning for the future. Guess what? You don’t live in the future. You must allow your now-self to become the future-self when the time comes. Your future-self will handle life just as you do now. Trust in all you's.
2. FIND A PLACE YOU CAN LOSE YOURSELF IN THE NOW
Wait, Madison, you told me to live in the present, and to accept uncertainty, but you want me to lose myself even more? By finding a place you can lose yourself in the present, you show yourself that uncertainty in the now is okay. For example, I like to read an enthralling book, diving into a world that isn’t mine.
3. GET OUTSIDE YOURSELF
If all you think about is you, how in the world are you going to stop fixating on your life? Go volunteer, go sit by the water, focus on gratitude, listen to a friend (no more talking about you), etc. Get outside of that voice that chatters relentlessly in your mind. Being busy helps you dive more into the now.
Focus deeply on everything you are doing. What does it feel like when you breathe in--does your stomach expand, does your heart feel like it’s lifting? When you walk into a spot of sunshine, how does the warmth feel on your face? Spend time being aware. And be grateful for all of those beautiful, unique moments and sensations.
5. GET YOUR BODY GOING
Run, walk your dog, try a new class (Zumba or kickboxing, anyone?), yoga, etc. When you get your endorphins going, you reduce stress and become instantly happier. When you wear out your body, you clear out your mind. You give yourself the energy to just be.
6. RECOGNIZE THAT LIFE CHANGES IN AN INSTANT
Remember that list you created for yourself for today? Oh, and do you remember when you rescheduled half of it for tomorrow because you didn’t have time today? I, myself, anxiously scheduled out what classes I needed to take a year in advance, and then I transferred colleges. When you plan the future, you waste the now. Continuously. You make a plan and run out of time to see it through or life throws you in the opposite direction. Life will always throw a curve ball and wreck your plans. Have a direction, not a set plan.
7. TAKE SMALL STEPS TO A BIGGER GOAL
The future consists of small steps in the now. If you want to run a marathon, you don't lace up your shoes and go. A marathon consists of months of training to prepare your body to run 26 miles. All the small steps lead up to tackling the big goal. Your life is your marathon. Make short-term goals and take little steps to achieve the big one. The future is not a direct plan, but a goal. And that, my friend, is the furthest you should be into the future. That goal. How you achieve your future goal will happen by current, present, short-term goals. And, if you do that, you'll get there. The universe has a funny way of molding things into its perfect design.
So hey, the future is going to be great, but enjoy the now. Otherwise you’ll be a high-school student-ready-to-go-to-college-ready-to- have-a-career-ready-to-get-married-and-have-kids ready-to-retire-and-oh-look! Where did my life go?
Did that even make sense? Stay out of your mind, it doesn’t know sh**.
Live now. If now is all you’ve got, that sounds pretty certain to me.