“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it” - Thich Nhat Hanh
Most of us spend our lives in the pursuit of happiness, looking to the future to find joy or reflecting on the past to avoid making the same mistakes. However, little do we know that happiness can be found right in front of us if we only just take a moment to pause and take in the present.
If you’d like to understand what it means to be fully present, you must first grasp what it means not to be present.
When you’re not fully present, you’re either living in the past or the future. When you’re in the past, you focus on past memories – be them good or bad… You relive previous injustices, moments that you regret and behavior you feel ashamed of. This likely brings up a wave of sensations including sadness, fear, loss, depression or moments of fleeting joy.
Conversely, when your mind is solely focused on the future, creating movies in your head of scenarios that don’t exist, you live in anticipation of what comes next. This inadvertently creates stress, anxiety, excitement or worry.
A recent study found that we spend roughly 47% of our waking hours focusing on things that aren’t currently happening which typically makes us unhappy. The researchers also discovered that humans are less happy when their minds wander compared to when they don’t – even when they’re thinking about something pleasant. They also found that most of our thoughts about the past or future tend to be negative which is the main contributor to people being unhappy when they’re not present.
That’s why it’s essential for us to sometimes pause, and direct our senses to what’s right in front of us. While spending some time reflecting on the past and future are common human traits, when you tend to spend most of your waking time in either, problems may arise. By missing out on the here and now means you can eventually start losing touch with reality.
We Know It Can Be hard
Humans aren’t naturally wired to focus on the present – think back to our ancestors who had to fight off the future danger of a saber-toothed tiger lurking around the corner, for example. In other words, our minds are stuck in the stone ages, coming up with possible scenarios that don’t exist yet.
But the problem with this is our surroundings no longer match those conditions. We no longer need to anticipate becoming a big cat’s next meal. We’re no longer in survival mode, yet our brains are hard-wired to keep up there. Some scientists call this an evolutionary mismatch. The good news is, however, you can actively try to change the way you perceive the world.
You have the power to question the thoughts your mind presents to you – it’s up to you whether you believe them or not. Here are some techniques you can practice to help you on the way:
- Learn to Meditate: As one of the most direct ways to practice mindfulness, mediation teaches you to deliberately focus on the present moment.
- Express Gratitude: By thanking the universe for all your blessings on a regular basis, you can remove negativity and focus on what’s good in the here and now.
- Adopt Minimalism: Create a clear surrounding and see how quickly your mind follows. Getting rid of the physical clutter in your life can help you make space mentally as well.
- Use Your Senses: Actively using your senses can help you become more grounded in your current environment. Touch is one of our most important senses. For example, even grabbing someone’s hand or hugging them can briefly soothe them.
No matter which technique you try, make sure you invest time into deliberate mindfulness each day. There’s no quick-win hack, but it will be worth the effort.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin on your mindfulness journey towards living a more present life, then make sure you head to www.hydrean.com to see how we can help you.