You’ve probably heard this ultra-popular quote at least once before:
“If you feel depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”– Lao Tzu
This quote never resonated with me as hard as it did after returning from a 4-day girl’s trip last weekend. As I ruminated this past week wondering why the trip had been such a blast (despite the obvious reasons), I realized one big thing:
On vacation, I didn’t spend any time worrying about things that didn’t impact me in that very moment. I was truly living moment by moment, which in turn led me to genuinely feel happy, peaceful and free.
Escapism can be a vicious temptation, especially in our 20’s. The feeling of wanting to run away and start fresh somewhere far away, living pay check to pay check and not worrying about our future can be tempting to a lot of us, and many end up indulging in that fantasy. However, not everyone feels this way – some are more practical, or metropolitan-ambitious, or are simply content with the status quo. Whichever side of the spectrum you fall in is perfectly fine; I would consider myself somewhere down the middle – ambitious, yet painfully adventure-seeking.
Nonetheless, the real key to happiness is living in the moment. Whether it’s in Bali or in your hometown, learning to be present (and not just a passenger in your own life journey) will bring you a sense of inner peace. To do that, you have to consciously be present. Here are 3 tips to be better at ‘living in the moment’ in your every day life:
1. Put Your Phone Away
It’s 2019, and while our phones can be our greatest assets by allowing us instant updates on news and has us more connected than ever, it can also be our biggest hindrance at living in the moment. Checking your phone too often can keep you stressed about an upcoming deadline, or you’ll see a photo of someone you’d rather forget…you get the idea. One great thing about social media apps like Instagram is that you can now set time limits for how long you spend on there, to control how much time you spend sucked into a world that may not be healthy for your happiness.
Phones are great, but you have to monitor how much time of your life you spend connected – you can’t live in the moment if you’re never unplugged.
The biggest part of this section is actually to put your phone away when you’re with friends/family. You probably only see these people for a few hours a week, and when you spend time with loved ones, you should make an effort to truly be present with them. Whether you’re an introvert or extravert, social media influencer or not, learning about people and enjoying every moment you spend with them is essential to finding peace. You can’t be relaxed with a friend if your mind is elsewhere.
2. Make Mundane Activities Fun
You spend most of your time doing regular day-to-day activities: grocery shopping, work, laundry, commuting places. Doesn’t it make sense to prioritize making those things fun, as opposed to putting all your energy into the 4 hours you spend out on a Saturday night, or your one-week vacation in August?
Although it sounds easier said than done, don’t go through these activities wanting them to be over. Make them fun! I make grocery shopping fun by challenging myself weekly to try out a new recipe, and so grocery shopping gets more exciting by finding the ingredients and scanning for new low-calorie snacks. I blast music and dance while doing laundry, sing obnoxiously while driving places, and listen to podcasts at work to try and learn new things while being productive. Your way might be different, but the results is the same: if you go through life dreading these mundane activities that you will most likely have to do for the rest of your life, you’re hindering yourself from living in the moment and enjoying life.
3. Ground Yourself
The last tip seems pretty basic but it can be the hardest one. When you feel yourself slipping and getting anxious, unhappy, insecure, unsatisfied – ground yourself back to reality. Bring yourself back to the moment. Remind yourself that you are young, alive, and have a bright future ahead of you. Nothing else matters than the moment you’re in, and once you do this, I promise you, you will find yourself a whole lot happier.