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32 Secrets to Be Present & Live in the Moment When Life is Speeding Past You

Are you wondering how to live in the moment? Far too many of us think backward or forward, but learning how to be present is the key to happiness. 

how to live in the moment and be present

We all want to have that moment when we look around, and everything seems to be going our way, we are riding the cloud, and things couldn’t be better. If you learn how to be present and live in the moment, you’ll be able to have this moment.

When people look for a general “happiness” in their life, they often spend a lifetime chasing an impossible goal.

No one can be happy all the time. Life is a series of peaks and valleys. Either that or they look back on what they think they could’ve done differently for a better “better life.”

It’s true that when you spend your time looking backward at the past, you live in regret. When you spend all your time thinking about the future, you’re missing out on the here and now and probably causing yourself a world of anxiety in the process.

So, you need to learn how to be grateful for the right now. [Read: How to be present – The guide to finding your zone of calm perfection]

What does it mean to be present?

Learning how to live in the moment means that you also need to learn how to be present; they’re one and the same thing.

You might know the term ‘presence’ as mindfulness or as something that you experience during meditation. When you’re present you’re not thinking, you’re just connected to the moment.

But trying to express presence in words a form of thinking is always going to be tricky. [Read: Late night thoughts – What it means, why it comes, and how to push it away]

First, it’s not about blinking out of consciousness. In fact, being present is as it sounds—being connected to the moment—is a form of deliberate focus.

However, in a digital world, we often interpret focus as being able to ‘multitask’ on many different things at once, including our instant text messages and e-mails. In these states, however, our attention is actually split.

So, in that case, being present is more about being able to stay in the very moment you’re in, rather than panicking about the past or worrying about the future.

The benefits of learning to live in the present

When you learn to live in the here and now, you open yourself up to many benefits. We’ve already mentioned that constantly looking backward and forward is stress-inducing and causes misery. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan for the future in some way.

There is a big difference between doing what you need to do to reach your goals, and becoming so fixated that your eyes are always forward.

By learning how to live in the moment, you open your eyes to the possibilities around you. Your relationships become deeper and more enriching. You see the beauty in the small things and overall, your life will be calmer and more fulfilling. [Read: How to stop ruminating – 18 ways to leave your past and be present]

How many times have you sat in a fancy restaurant and had a nice meal, yet you can’t actually remember the experience? Probably once or twice. Why? Because you were on your phone the entire time and you weren’t actually present.

How many times have you done the same thing when your friend has been talking to you? Your relationships are suffering!

Learning to live in the moment means that you get the best out of every second. So, you can learn from the past and plan for the future, while still enjoying the present. [Read: How to enjoy life and make it memorable]

How to live in the moment and live in the now

So, how do you find overall pleasure in life and not be left feeling like it is more of a roller coaster than a wonderful ride? The key to a fulfilling life is knowing how to live in the moment.

Living in the moment means you take things as they come. You enjoy each moment be it good or bad, and you live your life without regrets or baggage.

When you take too much of yesterday into today, you can’t fully ever grow or live. If you want to know how to live in the moment and in the now, it is about always being present, not passive, and, definitely not a spectator in your own life. [Read: Positive vibes – 17 ways to welcome positive energy into your life]

1. Don’t hold grudges

One of the worst ways we bring too much of yesterday into today is by holding grudges. Grudges are like carrying luggage of wrongdoings around with you everywhere.

Not only are they exhausting, but they also do you no good. If someone wronged you, let it go. The only person it hurts is you. It stops you from fully living in the here and now. [Read: When people use you – stop being a doormat and feel in control again]

2. Forgive

There are times when we say we forgive, but we don’t really. When you truly forgive, it means you put it behind you, never to be thought of again.

It’s hard, but forgiving is one of the best things you do for yourself. Forgiving someone isn’t about letting them off the hook but letting yourself off the hook from holding onto anger.

If you want to live in the now, you can’t hold onto the past. That includes anger from things that have come before. [Read: How to forgive someone who hurt you and release the negativity inside]

3. Look at every experience as a learning curve

To truly understand how to live in the moment, view everything as a continuum, not an ending. If you mess up, then you pick up and keep moving forward. There is no way to get through this life without making a little mess.

But, don’t let it get in your way. Consider it a part of living and learning so you continue to be present and let go of any remorse or guilt holding you in the past. [Read: How to be chill and learn to live a happier life as a result]

4. Let go of fear

Fear is one of the most powerful emotions people possess. The worst part about fear is that we typically don’t even recognize it for what it is.

Fear stops us from loving, leaving, creating, moving on, achieving our goals, being vulnerable, and it can be one of the reasons that you aren’t fully present in your life.

If you want to live in the moment, let go of fear. After all, what is the worst thing that can happen from trying something? It is far worse never to try than to fail while giving it a go. [Read: How to be fearless – 18 ways to set aside fear and live like a champion]

5. Don’t anticipate the future

Along with fear comes anticipation. We all learn from our past what to anticipate in new situations, but that only taints new experiences and gives us a different perspective on our lives and actions.

If you want to live in the moment, you can’t continually be thinking about the future and what might happen. You always live in the future and that isn’t really living at all. [Read: 12 life questions to help you visualize your future]

6. Think positively

Living in the moment involves seeing the positive side of life. If you are always negative, going around thinking everything is awful, then you aren’t really living in the moment. You’re living in your own head.

If you have a positive outlook on life, then you won’t ever stop yourself from seeing it for what it is or enjoying it to the fullest. [Read: Positive self-talk – what it is, where it comes from, and how to master it]

7. Love like crazy

Stop holding yourself back from love and live in the now. Being vulnerable and putting yourself out for rejection are two very scary things.

But, we would argue that if you don’t ever let your guard down to be the real you and take a chance at leaving yourself open for love, you can’t ever experience it.

Love is one of the things that makes the world go around. And, if you want to live in the moment, let yourself be vulnerable, love like crazy, and stop fearing rejection from putting your heart on your sleeve.

8. Consider each day your last

What would you do if today was your last day? You certainly wouldn’t view it the way that you do day-to-day. Try to live each day like it is the last one you have.

When you have the perspective that life isn’t ever ending but a series of moments that aren’t indefinite, you learn to appreciate never taking a moment for granted. That keeps you living in the present and taking all life has to offer. [Read: YOLO – what it means and 23 secrets to live like you only live once]

9. Try to bring back naivety

To live in the now, let go of your past experiences and meet each new day as if it was your first. Draw inspiration from how children view new situations with wonder and curiosity.

It means approaching even the most seemingly mundane thing with enthusiasm and the ability to see something new every time.

10. Don’t hold back

Living in the moment means not reserving yourself or holding back. Have you ever stopped yourself from smiling too much or from singing too loud? Those are all self-control measures that prevent us from living in the moment.

If you want to live wholly, then let go of the boundaries that hold you back from going overboard and letting the moment take you. [Read: How to be a good person and 32 ways to transform into a better human]

11. Stop worrying

Worrying is one of the most unproductive behaviors. Worry is an emotion that is supposed to stop us from doing things with consequences, but some worry is only self-imposed and does nothing to help you survive.

It only stops you from thriving. To live in the moment, stop worrying about when the good times will end, and reserve yourself for when the ride is over. Just go with it!

12. Follow your dreams wherever they take you

Living in the moment involves following each dream you have, both big and small.

It isn’t just about living up to your potential, it is about having boundless and endless potential. If you have a dream, follow it to the end of wherever it goes. Then keep going! [Read: Bored with life? 20 ways to bring the spark back to life]

13. Surround yourself with positive people who make you feel good

There is nothing to hold you back from being present in your life more than people who are negative or stop you from believing anything is possible.

If you surround yourself with limiting people, you will always be limited. Find those individuals who enjoy life as much as you do, and you won’t ever sit on the sidelines waiting for your turn. Life doesn’t have turns; it is meant for everyone to join in at once. [Read: 26 whys and ways to surround yourself with positive people and remodel your life]

14. Recognize that life isn’t perfect and be glad that it’s not

Often, we don’t live fully in the moment because we want things to be perfect. We are going to let you in on a little secret—there is no such thing as perfection. Stop being so cautious and just enjoy the ride.

15. Don’t have expectations

If you expect the way that things will go or the twists and turns that life may hold, then you won’t be able to experience them for what they are.

Preconceived notions about what comes your way only limit the experience. Stop overthinking it and just let it be. [Read: 18 ways to become more spontaneous in life]

16. Live without intention and judgment

If you want to live in the now, stop thinking about the intentions of things and assume there are none. That means you shouldn’t always look for why something happens or try to figure out how it ends. Always trying to ascribe intention or judgments about something distracts you from living the experience in totality.

17. Stop setting unattainable goals

When you set unattainable goals, you aren’t living your purpose because you assume you have something better waiting for you. It’s like not eating your dinner because you’re waiting for dessert.

Thinking that something better is about to come and negating the here and now only leaves you looking back with regret. In the end, you’ll wish you had enjoyed the journey more. [Read: 19 unrealistic expectations in love we want to believe but shouldn’t]

18. Learn to say “no”

It is hard to live in the moment when you have too many obligations or you’re so busy that you don’t have time to smell the roses.

Learning to say no allows you to not do as many things, but when you do something, it means much more because you have the time to put all that you are and your true spirit into it. Saying no to more lets you enjoy much more of life.

19. Think outside the box

Never limit yourself by what you think is out there or what you think can exist.

If you want to be present in your own life, believe that there are such things as miracles. When you see an easy path, go around it, and take the course that is bumpy, messy, and full of obstacles. Remember, it is about the ride, not getting to the end. [Read: 19 life quotes to motivate you to live a better life]

20. Bury your head less and look around more

Unplug and start living! Living in the moment is something we rarely do. Overscheduled, occupied, and overstimulated, we are always distracted by the things around us and never wholly living in the world.

Learning to live in the now means changing what you believe and not limiting yourself to things you think you “know” or are “known.”

21. Set goals but don’t become obsessed

You should certainly set goals to help you achieve what you want in life, but avoid becoming totally obsessed with them.

Take small steps towards achieving them but be sure to focus on living your life in the meantime too. You can still drive your future toward where you want it to go, without becoming so preoccupied that you don’t enjoy where you’re at. [Read: Inspiring ways to bring out the best in yourself]

22. Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude makes you far more content and able to stay in the moment. Every night, sit down and think about two or three things you’re grateful for during that day.

It could be something small, like a delicious coffee, or it could be something big, like meeting up with a lost friend again. It doesn’t matter about the size of it, it’s the fact you’re grateful that really counts. [Read: How to be grateful – 20 authentic ways to appreciate and express it]

23. Try mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation is a great way to learn how to live in the moment. It’s also fantastic for regulating emotions and allowing yourself to feel calmer and more satisfied with life.

While some meditation is a little difficult to master at first, mindfulness is literally about focusing your mind on the moment you’re in and taking in all the tiny details. Give it a try! [Read: How to live a good life you’ll love and cherish]

24. Focus on experiences rather than material items

We all have a habit of becoming a little preoccupied with material items. It might be the latest model of a cell phone or a new article of clothing.

However, these things don’t bring us joy and often leave us wanting more.

To help you stay in the moment and be happier overall, pay attention to spending time with people and having experiences, instead of looking for more material things and clutter to fill your home. [Read: The rules of life – 22 secrets to never be unhappy again]

25. Think of presence as a gym workout

Meditation can be challenging at first, particularly if you have a noisy mind full of to-do lists. But there’s a good reason why it’s hard.

Focusing on one thing, and therefore cutting out other stimuli, can increase the size of the part of your brain known as the neocortex.

This is roughly the same thing as strengthening your degree of self-control. So, when learning how to be present, treat your presence sessions like mental training.

As you get better at finding that space for presence, you’ll find your gym sessions often turn out into an inner spa treatment.

26. Learn from more experienced people

Read audiobooks from mindfulness practitioners and see what style suits you best so that you get a solid understanding of how to be present.

You might be a super-rationalist or believe in Chi—from Sam Harris to Eckhart Tolle; there’ll be someone out there you resonate with. [Read: How to reduce stress – 17 fastest hacks to a calmer and happier life]

27. Know your why

Knowing your why for learning how to be present will make you more likely to stick to your commitment to being present. So ask yourself:

1. Why do you want to learn how to be present? Who will be affected: your spouse, your children, or your friends?

2. Mindfulness can skyrocket the richness of your relationships. Do you want to increase how much you truly ‘see’ others, your listening skills, and your patience? [Read: 19 ways to be a much better listener in a relationship and read their mind]

3. If you’re very ambitious and industrious, taking time out to still your mind can help to bring clarity to the most important goals at hand. Do you want to be more sharply focused on the relevant details in any situation?

4. Perhaps you have acute anxiety, which can cause you to age faster. Being present brings with it a deep sense of peace.

28. Don’t tell yourself you don’t have time

This advice comes from Russell Simmons, a very successful author and entrepreneur. It’s not what you might expect to hear from somebody so busy. However, Russell is adamant that the more you train your mind to be still, the more effective you become in all areas of your life.

He says if you don’t have 20 minutes to meditate each day, then you need three hours. In other words, your mind is your worst enemy in a fast-paced society full of stimulus overload, and so the small amount of time you spent investing in stilling your mind each day only makes your efforts that much more effective. [Read: How to succeed in life – All you ever need to know]

29. Keep your targets and deadlines

Know your objectives in each area of your life and measure your progress toward them. Knowing how to be present doesn’t magically make money trees appear or get work done.

If you are not using presence to help achieve your goals, you may be using it as an excuse to procrastinate.

30. Learn to be accountable

Join a mastermind group where you can seek blunt feedback and be held accountable. Such accountability does not allow for excessive rationalizations for long and you certainly won’t want to appear lacking in the eyes of anyone else. [Read: Why do people lie in relationships? Common reasons why we fib]

31. View presence as a two-sided coin

On one side, you have peace, rest, stillness, and order. On the other, you have MAJOR hustle, chaos, and movement.

Allow for periods of hard grind and use presence as a way of detaching yourself from intense and controlling thoughts and feelings. In this way, you improve your ability to focus intensely while being in a calm state.

Go for a walk in the park and focus on the smells or the sights or sounds. This is also a great way to make being mindful or present something that you do during the day.

You’ll find that you take a piece of that stillness into your conversations and general interactions with others. [Read: What is my purpose in life? 33 secrets to find meaning when you feel lost]

32. Think long-term

Be diligent and trust the process. Keep your eye on your why. If you fall off of your practice for a week that’s fine, get back on!

Learning how to live in the moment doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t worry if you notice a few wobbles along the way.

Stay in the moment and learn to smell the roses

When you learn to live in the moment you’ll notice that everything becomes easier and a lot of stress just melts away.

There is something beautiful about not having to worry about what has passed or what is still to come. Instead, you can enjoy the here and now and make it as beautiful as possible.

We miss so much when we’re focused on everything but the here and now. Don’t let anything pass you by for a second longer.

[Read: How to be successful in life]

If you truly want to learn how to live in the moment, remember that happiness is incremental, fleeting, and found in the small moments in life. By skating by too quickly, you might miss the good stuff.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...