Everybody is talking and writing about being present, about living in the moment, in the here and now … and maybe it’s beginning to sound a bit hollow, a bit fashionable and maybe we don’t give it any attention anymore. But shouldn’t we?

“…The longest and the shortest life, then, amount to the same, for the present moment lasts the same for all and is all anyone possesses. No one can lose either the past or the future, for how can someone be deprived of what’s not theirs?” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 2.14*.

Let’s dive in a little deeper.

How much time do you spend thinking about future events? About things from the past?

Of course, it’s normal that we think and plan for what lies ahead, we do have to get certain things done and that requires a certain amount of planning ahead.

And of course, we think back, we talk about the past from time to time, we cherish memories, and that too is okay.

But, and this is a big but:

How many hours do you spend on the carrousel of thinking thoughts that are getting you nowhere?

How many hours do you spend worrying about things that are not happening right here, right now?

You go round and round and it’s getting you nowhere. You can rethink as much as you can. What happened, happened. You can’t change the facts. All you have to do with past events, is learn from the experience so that you can avoid making the same mistakes again. That’s all. Correct if needed where you went wrong, and then leave it in the past where it belongs.

The same goes for future events, a certain amount of thinking about it is necessary to get things done but then, let it go. Prepare for it and then let go of the outcome. 90% of all the worries you nourish and feed, never materialize anyway. I know it’s hard, I used to be the master of worry, I had glorified worrying to an ‘art worth cultivating’ until I was exhausted. Thinking, worrying had me completely depleted and guess what? I hadn’t even lived the things I was worrying about because almost none of all the scary visions ever happened for real.

My invitation to you all is:

Become aware of your thoughts. Whenever you notice you’re stuck in the past or in future worrying: say ‘stop’. Really, say it out loud if necessary.

You keep doing this until you have rewired** your brain to actually live here and now. It will take a while I know, but it’s so worth it! Teach yourself to enjoy what you are doing right now. Enjoy who you’re with, where you are, what you’re doing. Even if it’s not obvious to see something positive or something beautiful, take a deep breath, put your ego on the back burner, let go of the negative thoughts you’re thinking right now, and start observing. Look around you, and start seeing. Listen and start hearing. Just observe without the need to respond immediately. The more you become an observer, the more you’ll find beauty, the more you’ll hear interesting words, the more you’ll be able to live and enjoy the moment. The more you appreciate the present situation, the more positive your experience will be, the more appropriate your reaction will be. A win for everyone.

Become aware of your words. Catch yourself every time you say ‘I wish it was already tomorrow, next week, next month, …’ You lose the joy of the present moment by saying this. Stop yourself whenever you dwell on the past and say ‘I wish things had been different’. Stop that, it wasn’t, and it will never be. Look at it with an attitude of: How did this contribute to who I am today? How did this teach me what I do not want in my life? How did this teach me the skills I have today? ….

Be aware when you’re not looking forward to something. Don’t already think a certain event will be horrible, annoying, … just wait and see. Do you recognize the feeling of ‘mmm, it wasn’t so bad after all…’ Indeed, things hardly ever are what you thought they would be. Give the present moment a chance.

Practice bringing your thoughts, your awareness to the things that are happening right here, right now. Set a reminder, let’s say 3 times a day, so that you actually stop your train of thoughts and make sure you observe what is going on in the moment.

The more you’ll practice this, the more you’ll find yourself taking a step back of the rat-race in your head and become calmer, quieter. You’ll notice how the same life will start feeling very different. You’ll be able to handle problems in a more detached way. You’ll stress less as you are not going endlessly over and over the same events anymore. You’ll learn to think about them in the moment and say ‘what can I do right now?’ and then let go of the result. You’ll feel less overwhelmed, because now you know how to handle overwhelm. You make your world smaller and it becomes manageable. You only look at what is going on right here, right now, and you’ll see that there is no imminent danger. Now you know you can manage the next hour, the next day. Make it as small as you need it to be to be able to handle it.

I wish you all a very enjoyable, very calm, very beautiful moment. Repeat this ‘present awareness’ moment after moment after moment. Because as Marcus Aurelius* said so many centuries ago: “All you have is the present, the past and the future are not yours.”

Thank you all for reading me and for supporting me on Medium! If you want unlimited access to all of my articles and many other authors, you can become a Medium Member and you’ll be supporting me as well as all the other authors. Many, many thanks to you all!!!



*’The Daily Stoic, 300 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living.’ by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman.

**’The Trouble is, It’s All Up to You. The Good Thing is, It’s All Up to You.’ Medium article by Katrien Degraeve

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