Updated: Jan 15
"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." John F. Kennedy
Everyone wants a better, more successful life. The key to having that is found in living in the now. You’ll hear people talk about living in the now but it can be something that’s difficult to define…
Take it from me, I lived in the past so much thinking about all my traumas I was making my own healing more difficult as I discuss in my memoir
Ok, let's start with this:
What Does It Mean to Live in the Now?
Living in the now means you maintain your focus on the present moment. It means that you don’t look to the past. Dwelling on the past is one of the reasons that so many people find themselves unhappy. You might be feeling like you wasted years of your life being in a certain relationship.
You might struggle with feelings of inferiority when looking at the past because you think of the life that you should have led. You might worry that the life you’ve had wasn’t productive enough. Maybe all you can see are missed opportunities. This leads to a struggle with regret.
Sometimes, this discontent leads to a struggle with shame. All that looking backward at the past does is to make you feel regret, nostalgia, or wish that you could rewind time to go back. You might think that if only you could go back in time, you could change things and have a better life.
“If only” thinking leads to deep dissatisfaction with the life that you have now. It can lead to feelings of grief and that can turn into depression. Looking toward the past is detrimental to living in the now. It can steal your present happiness. Accept the past for what it is. It made you who you are and gave you the strength and wisdom you now have. Appreciate it, but don’t let it be your focus.
If you’re looking to the future, that’s not living in the now either. When you live with what could be or focus on the future, you can get stuck in judgement. This can lead to not accepting yourself in the now or the life that you’ve built, which causes deep unhappiness.
It’s okay to look forward to the future and to plan for it, but not to the extent that it prevents you from being present in the moment. Living in the now is something that you want to strive for. It can be useful during times of stress or crisis when you keep your focus on the present. You won’t find yourself worrying about what has happened or what could happen.
You’ll be able to develop an attitude of handling a problem as it arises rather than living in a state of bracing for something to happen.
Not only can living in the now help you in times of stress and crisis but also just in managing day-to-day life. You’ll be able to take imperfections for what they are rather than allowing them to blossom into big deals. You’ll be able to appreciate the little things. You’ll stop measuring yourself and focus on self-love.
12 Reasons to Live in the Now
There are many reasons to live in the now. Doing so can improve every area of your life. You’ll live happier and in greater freedom from things that would normally weigh you down or hold you back. Here are the reasons why you need to live in the now…
Reason #1: You’ll feel better emotionally.
When you live in the now, your focus is on what you have, not what you lost, what was, or what will be. You won’t waste your precious hours dwelling on anything. You won’t live in discontentment and focus on what’s going to be.
You’ll simply be open to life as it’s happening to you. When you do this, you’ll find that your joy in life is magnified. You’ll smile more often and you won’t have that feeling that the world is sitting on your shoulders. You won’t feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends. Instead of just existing, you’ll be living life to the fullest.
Reason #2: Your mental energy won’t be wasted.
It can be exhausting having your thoughts jump through the hoops of “what if…” or “if only I had…” which in turn leads to physical fatigue. When you guide your thoughts to living in the now, you’ll discover that you don’t waste energy dwelling on things that don’t matter. You’ll gain freedom from pressure and worry.
Reason #3: Living in the now can rid your life of chaos.
You won’t find yourself reacting to things anxiously or fearfully. You’ll have a sense of peace and well-being even during the times that something is going wrong. You’ll feel this way because you’ll understand that living in the moment means that whatever is going on is current and doesn’t mean it’s always going to be that way. You’ll know that chaos is transient and doesn’t have the power to steal your peace of mind unless you give it control.
Reason #4: When you live in the now, it boosts your self-esteem.
You’ll have self-assurance and understand that you’re fully capable of handling your life. The way that you approach situations and others will change. You’ll be aware of your strength and wisdom and you’ll know that you’re prepared to deal with each thing as it arises.
Reason #5: Your understanding will increase.
When you live in the now, you’ll have a deeper understanding of what’s right and which direction to go when you need to make a decision. Many decisions are made out of fear of what might happen in the future rather than weighing the truth of the options at hand.
Reason #6: Being present alters who you are.
You won’t be stressed out or worrying all the time. You’ll take things moment by moment. Your reactions will be formed out of living in what is. Because of this, you’ll discover that other people will be drawn to you. They will be drawn to your positivity, your calm outlook on life. They’ll see your peace. The people that are drawn to you will be ones that support you and give back rather than people that act as emotional drainers.
Reason #7: You’ll accept the forks in the road.
When change occurs, whether unexpected or planned, you’ll know that everything is going to work out. You won’t waste time or mental energy feeling like you didn’t get what you deserved.
You won’t go through life expecting things because you’ll be focused on what you have with a positive, thankful attitude. If something does go wrong, you’ll be able to take it in stride. It won’t shake your belief in yourself or in the goodness of your life.
Reason #8: You’ll stop trying to be perfect.
When you stop trying to orchestrate what happens to you or what unfolds in your life, you’ll realize that the now is what you have before you. You’ll stop being focused on planning your life to perfection.
When you live in the now, you won’t worry if something goes on that you didn’t plan. Every time life throws you a curveball (and it will), you’ll be able to accept it and still live happy, rather than getting caught up in what “should have” been.
Reason #9: Living in the now can add years to your life.
That’s because you don’t let stress ruin your life. You don’t allow the negatives and things you can’t control to become a roadblock. Stress tends crops up when you don’t focus on the moment. Perfectionism when planning the future is an example of this.
Many people want to erase bumps, roadblocks, and distractions from their goal planning because they want the perfect future. This strategy doesn’t allow for changes or failures. When it happens, they start to worry about what it means to their future and how they’re going to fix things.
When you start focusing on the future whether things have gone wrong or not, gently bring your thoughts back to the present. Being aware of the current moment keeps you from stressing on the moments that haven’t even happened.
Reason #10: Practicing living in the now because it gives you a positive outlook.
When you have a positive outlook, you have a stronger tendency to see life as good and you expect good. When you expect good, your emotions follow suit. Your thoughts can change the emotional landscape of your life.
Reason #11: Living in the now brings balance to your life.
You’ll discover that you can go through life trustfully knowing on a conscious level that what your life is as it should be. In addition, you’ll develop a faith that your present moment is exactly where you’re supposed to be.
When your life is in balance, it means that what’s important to you will be able to be center stage. You won’t miss the opportunities life gives you.
These opportunities may show up in hundreds of different ways. Such as paying full attention to the conversation of a child, picking up the nonverbal cues given to you by your partner or being in tune to your own needs or the needs of someone else.
Reason #12: You’ll stop using a subconscious script when you live in the now.
Too many people overanalyze their lives and waste their moments trying to decide what’s really going on. Living in the moment allows you take things and people at face value. You won’t second-guess their actions or motives.