Have you ever heard of the phrase “living in the present moment?” I am sure you have. Mindfulness has become central to people’s lives, because it is something that so many so desperately need.
But, even though you know you are supposed to live in the moment to feel fulfilled and satisfied, do you actually know how to live in the present tense? Or are you just stumbling along blindly? To help you figure out whether you are doing this whole mindfulness thing right or not, here are several signs that you are not living in the present:
1. Your ego has taken over
Yes, yes, we are all special snowflakes. Look, you do not have to be right all the time. You do not always have to come first. You do not always need to get what you want. When “you” is more important than those who are suffering in worst ways, that is your ego keeping you from truly connecting to the moment and the world around you.
Keep in mind that this “you” is actually a process of the mind, not your whole self. Once you understand that the voice telling you what you need, want, and should do is just one piece of your mind, then you are on the right track to becoming more mindful.
2. Your thoughts race all the time
Again, thoughts are created by the “thinking” mind. Anyone who stares up at the ceiling at night instead of sleeping will understand just how much thinking takes you away from the present moment, especially when morning seems to suddenly appear.
Rather than just thinking, mulling, and brooding, focus more on the rhythm of your breath, the depth of the shadows, the feel of the sheets, and other physical, pure sensations. Draw yourself away from thoughts and the future, and you will definitely fall asleep faster (or be more alert).
3. You avoid situations where conflicts could happen
Avoiding conflicts is akin to stay in your comfort zone (aka ego’s playpen). Because playing it safe means you can stay inside your own head and live within your own realm of thought, you might be avoiding new – and uncomfortable – experiences.
However, in order to be more present, you need to feel awkward sometimes. Rather than avoiding social situations, such as networking parties, go to them. Engage with others. Take risks. You will feel so much alive and aware when you drop the walls.
4. You can’t remember what you did or ate minutes ago
Mindfulness is all about opening the senses and truly enjoying what you are doing within that moment. One of the best tests is trying to remember what you ate this afternoon or several days ago. Can you remember the flavors, scents, sights, and sounds of the moment?
Did you savor the textures? Listen to the conversations unfolding around you? If you have zero recollection of what your food tasted like, it is because you spent the entire meal dwelling inside your head.
5. Everything is boring
This is quite the paradox. Some might think that doing something just to do it is a great way to alleviate boredom, but you know, that is just a thought. In order to enjoy something even as simple as folding laundry, you need to be present in the moment.
You need to be open to the sounds, textures, scents, and much more. Let new information and sensations from the physical world entertain you. Do that and you will rarely feel bored.
6. You stress about continually moving forward
Whether you are stressing about future payments or life in general, the anxiety you feel is a prove that you are overthinking something you have no control over. Instead of worrying about something that may or may not happen tomorrow, you need to remember that there is a life worth living today.
One way to combat this future-thinking-related stress is to remember that the point of goals is to enjoy the journey. Do not get as rigid in your thoughts to put all the weight of your life on getting into that school or getting that job. When the present means less than the future, you are simply not existing in the Now.
7. You are hooked on technology instead of people
Technology is nice, because instead of becoming codependent on someone else, you can depend on a nifty device that knows everything. Of course, social media, notifications, text messages, and what not definitely are not living in the present. Rather, technology detracts from it.
When you are actually living in the moment, you will be hyper-aware of the people around you. You will be able to read faces, body language, and energy. Yet, when technology beckons you to take a photo of your food rather than watching your friend’s face light up with their first taste, you are truly missing out on the “present.”
Remember, your phone is not your friend. It is an instrument to connect you with your friends.
Living in the present is truly about emptying your mind of thoughts and just letting the moment seep in like a fine tea. In order to see the most pleasant side of things, you simply go with the flow.
Sure, bad things and good things are bound to happen, but instead of overthinking how to respond, just take it in stride. Enjoy life second-by-second, and you will definitely feel more alive.