15 Practical Ways to Be More Present in the Moment


15 Ways to Be More Present

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
Omar Khayyam

Have you heard being present in the moment is a powerful practice that can alleviate worry and stress? It’s absolutely true.

Because most of our worry and stress comes from a hidden habit of not fully being here – wherever we are.

Instead, we let our thoughts run our lives. They’re running all day long in the back of our minds. And in an average person who has around 60,000 thoughts streaming through their mind a day, studies have shown that up to 70% of those thoughts can be negative.

That’s a lot! And the truth is we’re not our thoughts. We can learn to separate from them. To be the observer underneath them, as Eckhart Tolle says.

When you learn to just observe negative, critical pessimistic thoughts and let them go – you can engage more with life. With what you’re doing, who you’re with, and what’s going on around you.

Easier said than done, I know. The thing is our thoughts, along with the images in our minds, our habits, and beliefs, are all running in our subconscious mind, which is 95% more powerful than our puny little conscious mind.

That’s why no matter how hard we try to refute negative thoughts at times, they still keep coming. Most of the time, we’re not even aware of them.

Unfortunately, so many of us live our lives in states of worry, stress, sadness, anxiety, etc. and we just think it’s the way it is. We think it’s just our lot in life or our stressful surroundings that’s causing our unhappiness. When all the while, it’s all of those negative thoughts streaming through.

What’s at the core of our thoughts? Our beliefs deep inside. Most of our beliefs were formed when we were young. We came up with conclusions about ourselves, about other people, and about the world based on what was going on around us and what was happening to us.

Often, our beliefs are just passed onto us from our parents. The good thing is that it is possible to change negative beliefs that aren’t serving us.

That’s what this website finallyworryfree.org is all about. Showing you how to begin reprogramming your subconscious mind – including replacing the negative beliefs that are running your life.


Two Tips to Keep in Mind

As you’re reading through the list of suggestions below, here are two tips to keep in mind.

The first is to use the power of repetition. This one seems obvious. But, how often do we try something new out for a few weeks and then conclude it doesn’t work.

So, if a suggestion below resonates with you, give it some time. Just think how long it took for our current habits to get instilled in us. Years and years. That’s what we’re up against when we want to change them. It’s a numbers game.

And the second tip is to go easy on yourself. This is a biggie. Because many of us don’t even realize how hard we are on ourselves.

You know those 60,000 thoughts a day? Do you know how many of them are self-critical? It’s like we have this person in our ear putting us down every chance they get.

Learning to change this self-criticism to self-love: Amazing!

So, practice becoming your own best friend, your biggest fan. Start noticing when you’re silently putting yourself down and turn it around. It’s going to be unnatural to do – maybe for a long time, but the payoff is so worth it.

If the idea of loving yourself more sounds self-centered, just think of it this way. The more you love and accept yourself, the happier you’ll be and the more this will affect those around you. The more you love yourself, the more love you have to give.


These Tips Are Practical

When I finished writing this article, it was time for the title. I like to choose a catchy one that will stand out from the crowd, so I googled the one I came up with to see what my competition was like.

I decided to peak at a few of the articles that showed up. That’s when I knew I needed to add the word ‘practical’ to the title.

Because a lot of the tips in some of the articles didn’t seem very practical. I mean I consider myself a smart person, but here were three examples of ways to be more present:

  • See life from a bigger context.
  • Nothing is permanent.
  • Observe that life is a play between free will and destiny.

Is it me? These just sound a little too intellectual. I don’t want to have to think that hard to get happy. So, the tips below are more down to earth, in my opinion.


What Does It Mean to Be In The Present Moment?

Imagine you’re on vacation in a warm, sunny beach town. And right now, you’ve just stepped onto the beach for the day. Doesn’t it take your breath away a little every time you first step onto the beach?

It’s so beautiful. The air is so fresh and clean. The ocean is so powerful and vast. The sun, the sand, the waves. You can’t help but be present right then and there – taking it all in. And nothing else is occupying your mind in those moments. You’re present in the now.

In this next scenario, let’s say you’re stepping onto the beach, but you’re hot, you’re frazzled, it’s overcrowded, and your mind is preoccupied with something you just read on social media – or with everything you have to do later when you get home.

How present do you think you are in those moments? It’s not a huge deal. It’s just life. We don’t have to be happy as clams 24-7. And once you settle in on the beach, you’ll be able to relax and take in everything around you.

But, isn’t it nice to have more moments like the first scenario?

And it doesn’t matter where you are. On the beach, at home, at work, etc. You can learn to be more present in your moments.

This isn’t to say that we have to try and squelch all of the thoughts streaming through our minds. Not at all. Just the ones that are in the way. The ones that are taking us away too often from our nows.


Here are the 15 Practical Ways to Be More Present:

Engage All Your Senses

It’s easy to use all of our senses when we’re at a beautiful place like the beach. The trick to becoming more present, though, is to engage them more, even when we’re doing ordinary things.

As a wise person always reminded me, “Get out of your head.”

Here’s an easy practice:

  • Pause.
  • Take a nice slow breath.
  • Remind yourself you want to be more present.
  • Then start with what you’re seeing. Really see the details of what’s around you. Try seeing everything with fresh eyes. Notice things you haven’t noticed before.
  • Same with what you’re hearing, smelling, feeling, and tasting.
  • What’s the temperature like? What do you smell? Etc.

This advice works anywhere, anytime. Waiting in line? Bored or cranky at work? Got mundane cleaning or work around the house to do? Engage your senses.

It reminds me of my father when we were little. There were no dishwashers back when I was a kid. Now that I think of it, I guess there were plenty around. I just didn’t know anyone with one.

After supper was time for doing the dishes. He made a sport out of it. He was always up to his elbows teaching us the right way to do the dishes. How the water has to be as hot as possible; how much soap to use; how to scrub the dishes; rinsing; drying, etc.

After all these years, I still have fond memories of that mundane task of doing the supper dishes.


Practice Really Engaging With Others

Give people your full attention. Stop everything and really listen to them without things like:

  • Being distracted by technology or by what’s going on around you.
  • Planning what you’re going to say next the whole time they’re talking.
  • Judging them harshly.
  • Worrying how they might be judging you.
  • Comparing, keeping score, needing to make them wrong and you right.

The best way to communicate with people? Kindness.


Cut Down On Social Media

This one’s controversial, I know. Social media is becoming a way of life for many people. Especially with this pandemic we’re in.

But for me, I deleted my Facebook account at the beginning of 2021 and I’m loving it.

I had created my account right after I wrote my first book Simply Being Happy a few years ago, to start getting exposure and building a brand. But after three years, I realized that I never felt comfortable or connected on Facebook.

So if social media is a big part of your life, now might be a good time to take an objective look at it and whether it’s really serving you. And at whether it’s keeping you from being more present in your moments.


Meditate

Meditation is like exercise. So good for us in many ways.

Let me say right off the bat that I’m not an expert at meditation in any way. I’m not even that good at meditation. But, it doesn’t stop me from practicing it almost everyday.

I come home from work and tell my family I’m taking my fifteen minute power nap. Then I just put my airpods in and chill out to something like a guided meditation or the sound of crashing waves on Youtube.

It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done. And just like regular exercise, the benefits to your health and wellbeing compound over time So, meditation will definitely help you be more present in your life.

I’ve always liked this quote from Ellen Degeneres:

“It feels good. Kinda like when you have to shut your computer down, just sometimes when it goes crazy, you just shut it down and when you turn it on, it’s okay again. That’s what meditation is to me.”
Ellen


Delete Some Apps On Your Phone

Who doesn’t love their phone these days? We have so much information, convenience and connection at our fingertips. But unfortunately, this can also mean too much distraction from being present in the moment.

If you notice that your head is down and you’re constantly roaming through your apps whenever you have a few seconds to steal during the day – it might be time to delete a few.

I recently deleted a handful of apps and haven’t regretted it at all. I still have ones like Safari, my emails and Youtube. But, my phone is so boring now, I have no choice but to engage more in what’s around me.


Make A New Habit of Connecting with Nature

Whether this is when you step out of your house to head to work every morning, while you’re taking a walk, even just looking out a window, etc.

There’s so much nature around us to take in, even if you live on a city street. Just looking at the sky, the sun, the clouds, the trees.

When you look at a tree out your window, for instance – really see it, appreciate it, feel it’s sense of stillness, etc.

Use as many senses as you can at times. Listen to the faint rustling of the leaves in the wind. Hear the birds and all the sounds way out in the distance. Feel the cold air on your skin, etc.

There’s something special, even spiritual if you want it to, about simply connecting with nature like this. Even if you’re only seeing a little bit of it out your window.

“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”
Hal Borland


Practice Being Aware of Your Thoughts

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, learning to become aware of your thoughts is powerful. It’s like shining a light in a dark place.

To be more present in your moments, start becoming aware of the thoughts that are taking up space in the back of your mind. The ones that are causing you to be preoccupied with what’s going on inside, instead of engaged with what’s going on outside of you.

You can even start writing them down. It’s amazing how clarity comes when we get our thoughts out of our heads and onto paper.

Awareness is a great starting point to replacing negative thoughts. The following idea can be the next step.


Uncover Your Negative Beliefs

As I mentioned earlier, your thoughts are only half the story. Because at the core of them are your beliefs deep down.

One of the best things you can ever do for yourself is to make a new habit of uncovering your negative beliefs, so you can start replacing them.

The best way to do this is to start asking yourself questions like, “Why do I feel this way?” “What’s the belief behind this?” Etc.

Keep digging into your past to find the answers. It doesn’t mean you have to dig up every awful thing that ever happened to you. Just the ones that made an indelible mark on you.

But, take a look at your parents’ beliefs too, since we naturally inherit a lot of their beliefs. Do you see a lot of similarities that you wish were different. This is no disrespect to our parents.

Do you remember certain times when you were young that you can say, “Oh yea, that’s why I have this belief about myself.”?

Now here’s the next step.


Give Yourself Pep Talks

I know this is an article about being more present in your moments. And this advice might sound contradictory. Like, “Why would I give myself a pep talk, when I should be engaging more with what’s around me?”

The truth is it would be so easy if being present in the moment meant just learning to stop and smell the roses, as they say. But, our beliefs deep inside are often in the way of stopping and smelling those roses.

So, you’ve got to start getting to the beliefs that aren’t serving you and begin changing them.

Say you’ve uncovered a negative belief you’ve been operating out of for most of your life. Let’s use, “I’m not good enough.” as an example. You might have always known you’ve held this belief, but now you’re ready to change it.

The next step is to start telling yourself all the reasons why this belief is false, bogus, untrue. There are tons of reasons why we take on this belief when we’re very young.

Think back and remember how you came up with this conclusion about yourself. Remember, you were young and naive back then. You didn’t know what was really going on from your little mind’s perspective. But, you do now!

So give yourself some good pep talks. Keep telling yourself over and over again all the reasons why you are good enough! Why you are worthy! Why you are special! And amazing! Etc.

Talk to yourself with as much love as you would a child. You could have used this encouragement way back then. Give yourself this gift now.


Create Affirmations to Replace Negative Beliefs

See those statements above? Turn them into personal affirmations:

I am good enough!
I am worthy!
I am special!
I am amazing!
Etc.

Make saying affirmations to yourself a new habit. I have tons of tips on affirmations in my two books and in articles on this website.

Think affirmations are corny? Start reading some biographies of great, strong, successful people. You’ll discover that many of them used affirmations.


Imagine Negative Thoughts are Floating Out Of Your Mind

Here’s a nice, easy practice to be more present. It will teach you the habit of letting negative thoughts go.


Practice Relaxation Breathing

Here are 3 easy relaxation breathing techniques will work great.


Notice 10 New Things On Your Daily Drive to Work

This is a simple practice that can help you become a more present person. Just start noticing 10 things you haven’t seen before on your drive to work or wherever you go on a regular basis.

Just simple things that still allow you to pay attention to the road. A car that catches your eye, an old sign you passed by a hundred times and never noticed, a new mailbox, your favorite house color, etc.

I’m fortunate to have a picturesque commute to work everyday. I pass a cow pasture that looks like what I imagine a little countryside in Europe looks like; four beautiful old barns; a hill that overlooks miles of scenery etc.

I can’t tell you how many times through the years I’ve driven past all of this without even noticing. I was too preoccupied with something or another. Practicing this “10 New Things” exercise has really upped the quality of my mornings.

Practices like this one can seem just sort of cute and simple. But, they can actually make a difference.

Because happiness isn’t always some big sweeping change that comes all at once. It’s these little daily adjustments we make over time that allow us to become happier – and more engaged with life.


Replace Impatience With Gratitude

Sometimes we think we need more patience. Like, “Just give me patience to get through this day. Or this week.”

When what’s actually so much better than patience is appreciation.

Remember when you first started the job, for instance? You were so thankful for everything about it?

What happened? Our thoughts and beliefs kept creeping in and compounding over the years is what happened.

So, when you inject more gratitude into your days, they get better. And you can become more present.


Turn Off Distractions

This last suggestion is a reminder that sometimes just turning off all the background noise and distractions can help us be more present.

I like having the tv on as much as the next person. But, isn’t it nice to turn off the tv, or your computer, or cell phone at times?

Thanks for reading!

Paula

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