If you, like me, find yourself looking forward to future goals or regretting past decisions instead of enjoying life in the moment, let’s work on it. Making an effort to be present in the moment, even when that moment doesn’t seem significant or exciting, is a challenge we all should accept if we want to feel like we made the most of the time we had.
6 Ways to Practice Being Present in Everyday Life
Everyday moments may not always feel important, but living in those moments and paying attention to the smallest things can create opportunities for building special moments you might have otherwise missed.
These are the tips that I offer myself whenever I am feeling like I need to make an effort to live more in the present. It’s easy to let weeks and months go by in a blur, but practicing these things helps me to refresh my perspective and align my priorities.
Making Space in Your Life for Being Present:
Spend Time Pondering Your Priorities:
Many of us have a hard time living in the moment simply because our minds are stretched too thin. Being present is much easier if you are able to prioritize and even get rid of some of the more stressful distractions in your life. Choose what is important to you and cut out things that aren’t. It takes practice.
For me, this has meant cutting out distractions that take me out of the present moment. In many situations I will turn off, “forget,” or silence my phone. I’ll get up early to get extra work done before hanging out with friends so that my mind is at ease when I am with them. Sometimes I’ll prep dinner a day ahead just so I have more time to go for a walk or be present after we get home from work. It’s about taking control and making room in my mind and schedule for what’s important to me.
Prioritize Activities that Fuel You:
Life is busy. However, one of the best ways that I am able to really focus on being present in everyday moments is by prioritizing the activities and relationships that add to my life in a positive way. It doesn’t mean that I get to skip out on everything I don’t want to do, but when I’ve made sure to prioritize things I want to do, I am better equipped to make the most of boring or challenging moments.
In my life, this means that I make communicating with my husband, exercise, listening to music, and good food a priority. If I am fueling my body and staying active, I feel more positive. If I have spent some time connecting with my husband, it reminds me that I am a part of a team and that we will handle life’s challenges together. Prioritizing these activities allows me to have a clear mind and a positive attitude as I practice living in the moment every day.
Being Present in Social Situations:
Ask More Questions:
Sometimes we get caught up in trying to share our life and our stories with the people around us. We forget to ask questions and genuinely listen to what others have to say. It might not seem natural at first, but asking simple questions in social situations about the life/day/feelings of others will naturally help you to pay more attention to the moment you are in.
Not sure what to ask? Branch outside of the usual “what’s new?” and ask people about any projects they are working on, whether they’re involved in anything cool at work/school, or any events that they may be looking forward to in the future. Bonus tip: follow up with additional questions, rather than switching to sharing your opinion or your own story after they answer.
Look for Opportunities to Serve Others:
It’s amazing how much you will notice yourself paying attention to what people are saying and doing around you when you make an effort to try and serve them. It feels great when someone notices that you could use a drink and offers to grab you one. It makes you feel all cozy inside when someone offers you the more comfortable seat or shares their coat when the weather is chilly. These actions show us that our friend or loved one was paying attention to us.
Not only does serving others feel good, but it will help you to learn to pay attention to their body language and how they are feeling in that moment. Living in the moment means noticing the small things and taking action to be present.
Allow Yourself to Be Vulnerable:
For people like myself, who struggle with anxiety in many social situations, participating in conversations and responding with genuine emotion or interest can feel very vulnerable. Instead of distracting myself with my phone or imagining all the ways a conversation could go wrong, I try to live in the moment and be a part of the conversation as it is happening.
Practicing vulnerability helps us to be more committed to conversations and in relationships — plus sharing our own thoughts and feelings is a healthy way to grow relationships with important people in our lives! Bonus tip: When someone makes an effort to ask about your life, or how you’re feeling, answer them genuinely. They’re bound to be more interested when you offer a response that doesn’t seem like the scripted options we all learn to use.
Let Go: The Only Real Way to Live in the Moment
At the end of the day, all of these tips come together and highlight the timeless advice for those of us who are trying to be present throughout the moments and days of our lives: let go.
A simple concept, yet incredibly difficult to live out. I want to be present in every moment and find fulfillment in my life, but if I am white-knuckling it, searching for excitement and significance in every conversation or event, I burn out. In those times I find myself disappointed with the mundane and unmotivated to take on new challenges.
It seems to me that the key to being present in everyday moments is letting go of my expectations, control, and negative attitude. It’s definitely not easy, but it’s certainly worth the effort.