To feel happy, full of life and energy...it's what every single one of us wants. For most people, happiness is attached to something in the future. You might tell yourself you'll be happy when you...
- Have a certain amount of money in your bank account...
- Are a particular size of clothing...
- Have a fantastic romantic relationship...
- Get a promotion...
You get the idea.
So often we confine our happiness to a date, time, or achievement. The problem with this is that we'll always want more. It's an inherent part of human nature to desire more. It keeps us growing, evolving, expanding, developing, so we can continue to survive as a race.
Like everything in our universe, there's a yin to this yang. We can get so focused on wanting more that we're not present to what is going on NOW, and therefore can't really be happy right now.
This wouldn't be a big deal if it only happened occasionally, but most humans live in this state of thinking about the past or future 99% of the time. It's usually only very specific situations or activities that result in total presence—things like very challenging mental or physical feats where your full focus is required to do them, in life threatening situations (or things you interpret as such), or when you are engaging in actions that bring about full presence such as the ones I offer you below.
People who are present more often practice presence, meaning they make it a priority in their regular routine to actively choose to be present often. They know that this leads to much a higher quality of life, more happiness, more productivity, deeper intimacy and connection in their relationships, more satisfaction and appreciation of life, and much better health and energy. With these benefits, practicing presence is not not one to skip over, especially when it can be so simple to become present.
Here are four ways to get present right now. After all, right now is all there is. If you don't choose to be present and happy now, when will you?
1. Breathe deeply
If you have any interest in wellness, I'm sure you've seen the merits of deep breathing touted in every second article, video or blog post you read these days. It might feel a little repetitive but there's a big reason it gets harped on about: it works! Practicing deep breathing regularly, until it becomes an automatic part of your life, will completely transform you! You can expect amazing gains in every single area of your life and your peacefulness and happiness to skyrocket.
Knowing how to properly breathe and then doing it when times are challenging also helps to bring you back to a state of calm very quickly, so even when you are unhappy, you can snap out of it quickly. Practicing deep breathing also brings you right back to the present.
The best way to experience this is to simply try it right now. Breathe in through your nose for four counts with your abdomen extending out as it fills with air (your chest and shoulders shouldn't be moving), hold for four counts and then breathe out through your nose for four counts, pushing out all the air in your abdomen. If it helps you to focus on moving the air in and out of this area and not your chest or shoulders (which is shallow breathing), place your hand on your abdomen as you do it and let it move in and out with your breath. Do this at least ten times.
you that by the time you've done this, you'll be fully back in the
now, in your body, and out of the past or future. By bringing yourself
back to the present, you'll reduce stress dramatically and a natural state of happiness, or at least calmness,
will be present.
2. Engage all your senses
How often do you put your attention on all of your senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, sound) at once? Sure, they are all there sensing your world for you all the time, but you may not be paying much attention to them. When you consciously choose to put your attention on all of your senses at any given moment, it will bring you right back to the present.
You'll notice what the world around you looks like, smells like, feels
like, sounds like and tastes like. Your senses can only tell you what
they sense right now so there is no option to be anywhere other than
present. I love this tactic for a quick and easy way to be present!
3. Be grateful for right now
What can you be grateful for in your world or experience right in this moment? Even if things feel really crappy, can you be grateful for the warm scarf you have? For the sand or grass you can dig your toes into? For the fresh air around you? For the job you are currently working that gives you an income? For your vision or hearing? For the ability to pick up the phone and call a friend? For fresh water? For the comfy pillow you are laying your head on?
It can be easy to forget how wonderful each of these things are and to focus on what you don't have. Choose to put your attention on what you do have in this moment and you will not only become present, but more appreciative and happy too.
Smiling can completely shift your state. Even if you're alone and feeling down, choosing to put a big smile on your face will make you feel happier and bring you back to the present. (You'll also look better!) In the Balinese culture, they have a meditation practice where you simply sit or lie down, breathe, and smile. As you smile, you focus on smiling all the way from your heart. I practiced this meditation technique regularly for over a year and still draw on it whenever I feel the desire to shift my state or bring myself back to the present. It's also very hard to feel down when you have a big smile plastered on your face! :)
The best thing about all these tips? You can do them immediately, they're free and only take a moment. Pick one and try it now. There's no other time after all.