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How to live in the present with a sense of joy
How to live in the present with a sense of joy
Aug 15, 2009
We can learn to live in the present through the acceptance of "what is". I will explain.
Why do we want to live in the present, or the now, or in the moment? Because the present is where we are in time. Why not enjoy fully where we are in time 100% of the time. Imagine how joyful our lives would be if we could allow ourselves to be "in the moment" in a joyful way all of the time.
How would our life be better if we spent our time in the present in a joyful way? First of all, we would have little to no anxiety. That is because most anxiety comes from worry, which is focusing on the future. Some anxiety comes from the memory of past events, usually projected into the future. Virtually no anxiety exists when we are only in the present. Second we would have very little anger as most anger comes from fear and anxiety. Third we would have very little negative judgment in our minds because most negative judgment comes from past memories and future projections. It is the same as negative self talk. If we have less negative judgment our relationships with others will improve, we will feel more connected and therefore will be happier. And fourth, all of our experiences will be more joyful if we are in the present. When we are doing any kind of every day experience we will enjoy it more because we will be focused on the joy of that one experience, one experience at a time. We will not be thinking about another experience to come while we are in the middle of our present experience. For example, while we are taking a shower, we will be focused on the warmth of the water on our skin, the warmth of our body, the enjoyment of cleaning our hair and skin, and how good the feeling of "clean" is, etc. While we are watching a TV show we will be focused on how hard the actors are working, how enjoyable it is to sit, relax and be entertained, or how interesting it is to experience the story line. While we are working in the garden, we will be focused on the appreciation of the exercise we are getting, the beauty of nature,and the warmth of the sun on our back. While we are with a friend, we will feel more connected to them, more interested in listening to them and learning about them and we will appreciate them for what they each have to offer. In short, when we are in the present, our life is more rich. The richness of life comes from the appreciation of all the routine things we do and this can only be accomplished by living in the present.
Why do we struggle so much to be in the present? We struggle largely because we cannot accept "what is". The struggle with "what is" usually takes us to the future or the past. For example, we are unhappy with a problem that we have. So what we do is obsess about what happened in the past to make this problem exist for us or we project to the future and worry about whether the problem will go away or how it may affect our future. Or we are unhappy about the unfairness of an event that has occurred in our life. Here we are stuck in the past obsessing about the unfairness. Or we are stressed and feel drained by the difficulties of life. The stress comes from the worry about the difficulties, being in the future, and ruminating about what happened in the past. Or we are uncomfortable about the unknown. We are projecting to the future and worrying. So you see how much time most of us spend in the future and past. Instead we want to accept "what is", largely because "what is" has already occurred and we can't do anything about that. We can plan corrections and positive change, of course, and we want to, but we also need to accept "what is". This means accepting that "what is" has already happened and you can't change that. It also means accepting that there is no life without problems, that life can and will be unfair, that life is difficult and that the unknown will remain the unknown until it is the known or that there will always be an unknown. Accept "what is" so you can stay in the present with joy.
Some how to's:
Learn to reframe your thoughts from negative to positive about "what is" as described partially above. There will be more of this in the future.
Learn to accept what you can't control. You can't control the past or "what is" because it has already happened. Rule #1 - Never spend any energy being angry or anxious about things you can't control.
Practice meditation. Meditation is the #1 best way of training your mind to be more in the present in a joyful way. It is easy and you gain benefit from the first time you meditate. I recommend Transcendental Meditation (and there are many books on the subject), but there are many others. A good meditative technique must include an "in the moment" focal point that you use while you are meditating.
Lorraine Watson (The Anger Master)