Life moves faster and faster as we get older. It seems like our childhood stretches on forever, but suddenly, you’re in your teens and then your adult years. Wasn’t it just yesterday that your biggest worries were who was going to be your best friend at school, and taxes weren’t something you ever thought about? Life moves fast, but there is a way to slow it down: living in the moment.
Scrolling on TikTok is not living in the moment. Spending hours thinking about a mistake you made in the past is not living in the moment. But with so much content and stimulation and so many responsibilities in our day-to-day life, it’s easy to get out of the present moment and let our minds wander elsewhere. This can become a dangerous cycle if we let it.
The following tips can help you break out of this cycle and return to the present moment. As you practice mindfulness and live in the present, you’ll find that time slows down and is more enjoyable, too!
How to Live in the Moment
- Take a look around you
- Focus on your breath
- Pause before speaking
- Tap into your body
- Practice mindfulness
- Let go of the past
- Let go of the future
- Seize the day
Take A Look Around You
An infinite number of sights are constantly grabbing our attention: our screens, TikTok feeds, whatever is on the television, and everything else that is within our eyesight. It’s easy to block out individual things around us. But take a moment. Look at what is in front of you. Consciously take in where you are.
As you look around you with intention, you are more likely to remember what you see and where you are in this moment. You’re actually seeing what is around you during the present moment. As you see it, you can appreciate it more. The house you live in? The gift on the table from your friend? Your partner? When you take the time to actually see these things and see the people and see the nature around you, you realize how much you have. This is what living in the moment is all about: recognizing everything that you have.
Focus On Your Breath
You can be in a completely dark room, void of external sounds or objects, and still be able to live in the moment. All you need is your breath. Try it now: close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath. Keep breathing and take note of how the breath feels on the inside of your nose or mouth. If you still feel disconnected from the present moment and to your body, keep breathing.
Every day, we breathe, blink, and live without noticing. Our body goes on autopilot, and that works while we consciously focus on other things. But if you find yourself thinking about the past, the future, or things that are far, far away, focusing on your breath can bring you back to the present.
Tap Into Your Body
Expand on this practice by focusing on how your body feels in the moment. Start by feeling how your chest and stomach move as you breathe. If you’re sitting, focus on where your feet are making contact with the floor. Feel what your hands are touching, or feel the clothes on your skin. Body scan meditations can guide you through this practice and into a state of mindfulness.
All of these exercises can bring you into a state of mindfulness, or awareness without judgment. There are many ways to achieve mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation, grounding exercises, or even journaling can bring you to this state. If you are having trouble achieving this state of awareness, you can try using a guided meditation app or reaching out to a mental health counselor.
Pause Before Speaking
When we’re not in the present, we do things without thinking. We breathe without thinking, make decisions without thinking, and speak without thinking. And when we speak without thinking, we might say things that we don’t want to say. The next time you’re having a conversation with someone, pause before speaking. Think about what you want to say before you say it. You don’t have to respond immediately to others - in fact, people will likely appreciate that you are speaking more eloquently and with more thought.
Let Go of the Past
Living in the present moment means living without attachments to the past or the future. The past has already happened. Yes, you may have made mistakes or people may have hurt you. An infinite number of things have taken place that you can reflect on. But none of those events are taking place in the moment. If you find your mind wandering to the past, come back to your mindfulness exercises and see everything that is in front of you. There are an infinite number of opportunities to improve, grow, and enjoy what is happening now!
Let Go of the Future
When you let your mind wander, how soon does it travel to your to-do lists and the grocery shopping you have to do later this week? Unless you are actively accomplishing these tasks, thinking about them is not living in the moment. Set boundaries with yourself by setting alarms, setting aside time to make a schedule, or practicing mindfulness throughout the day.
Seize the Day
Living in the moment isn’t just about breathing or looking around. If you’re doing something that captivates you and interests you, you’re more likely to pay attention to what’s happening around you. Seize the day and spend each moment doing things that “set your soul on fire.”
Quotes About Living in the Moment
- “Forever is composed of nows.” -Emily Dickinson
- “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
- “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” -Henry David Thoreau
- “Life is a journey, not a destination.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “The here and now is all we have, and if we play it right it’s all we’ll need.” -Ann Richards
- “The next message you need is always right where you are.” -Ram Dass
- “Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at the bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you already are.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn
- “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
- “The past has no power over the present moment.” -Eckhart Tolle
- “Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.” -Oprah Winfrey
- “If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is to be present in the present. Gratefully.” -Maya Angelou
- “Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” -Jim Rohn
Quotes About Letting Go of the Past
- “Hanging on to resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.” -Ann Landers
- “Think about any attachments that are depleting your emotional reserves. Consider letting them go.” -Oprah Winfrey
- “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” -Henry David Thoreau
- “The past has no power over the present moment.” -Eckhart Tolle
- “In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” -Deepak Chopra
- “You can only lose what you cling to.” -Buddha
- “Let go of your attachment to being right, and suddenly your mind is more open. You’re able to benefit from the unique viewpoints of others, without being crippled by your own judgment.” -Ralph Marston
- “Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, Faith looks up.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve or would’ve happened… or you can just leave the pieces of the floor and move on.” -Tupac Shakur
- “In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” – Deepak Chopra
- “It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn't matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.” – Paulo Coelho
Quotes About Letting Go Of the Future
- “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” -Dalai Lama XIV
- “Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” -Marcus Aurelius
- “Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose” -Eckhart Tolle
- “Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” -Benjamin Franklin
- “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.” -Mark Twain
- “What worries you masters you.” -John Locke
- “A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.” -Aesop
- “I choose to be inspired by things that have been done well in the past. So, I don’t worry about being compared, because I think that does paralyze you.” -Kenneth Branagh
- “To him who is in fear, everything rustles.” -Sophocles