“What’s that even mean?“ You say?
It’s more straightforward than it sounds. You see folks, there’s one problem that’s far worse than just being plain stupid.
Pay attention, because this will change your life if you let it.
It’s worse than not having any cash.
It’s worse than your girl breaking up with you, your car breaking down or even being called to jury duty.
In fact, it’s the single biggest cause of mediocrity that’s not discussed.
It’s the real secret to getting the most out of life that’s not spoken of.
What is it?
Funny enough, it’s not even something “real,” in the sense that a physical object is real. It’s only as real as you permit it to be. In that way, it’s like a boogie man. You remember the old childhood boogie man story right?
There are versions of it in many, many cultures. It’s always some type of big, scary monster dude who’ll get you if you don’t behave well.
That’s always the base of the story. Well, this problem is the adult version of the boogie man. It still hides under your bed every night.
Actually, you let it stay with you always. It plagues you like a cloud of locusts, buzzing insensintely.
“Christ, what is it already Michael.” ” I don’t have all day here.”
I hear ya. It’s your anxiety, lack of perspective and constant worry about future consequences.
Even more simply, you don’t live in the present moment. That’s right.
You aren’t actually living full time in the present moment. You might act on the world all day long. You go to the beauty shop, you pick up your kids from soccer practice, you go to docter’s office, etc.
But how present are you?
“What the hell do you mean, present?” “I’m living, aren’t I?” “That’s pretty present, right?”
Again, I get it. This type of thing is never talked about. People just assume you do something or you don’t do it.
They’re only thinking of the physical parts of it. They aren’t considering the mental and emotional side of it all.
Yes, that matters. You can be physically doing something, but you aren’t focused or engaged mentally. That’s almost the same as not doing it at all. If you get distracted by wandering thoughts, then you’re not giving 110% into something.
It’s like a phone on battery saving mode. It still performs the same basic functions, but at about half speed. That’s what most of us do throughout the day. We operate at half way speed. This means that we rarely enter into a “flow,” state. We rarely operate at anywhere near full capacity.
When you get distracted by a constant whirlwind of worry then you have not control over your life.
We all want to have control. With control we can pursue what we want to pursue and manage our fate the way we want to manage our fate.
Ideally, we give all we have to those areas of life that are important to us. That also means doing everything to the fullest extent of our capabilities.
But that’s not what most of us do, is it?
Instead, we sort of sway back and forth between good effort and barely trying at all. It also means that we don’t ever fully enjoy anything we do.
To Be Present Centered.
Think about the last time you were with a special guy or girl. Did you really take in every single aspect of every single moment with them. If you did, congratulations, you are qualified to give us all relationship advice.
To pay attention to somebody fully. Truly give someone your undivided attention, consideration, admiration and thought takes serious discipline.
You probably make your significant other feel damn good about themselves. I can bet my parents house that 90% of you struggle to pay full attention to people when they talk.
You struggle to talk your way through difficult situations without negative self-talk getting in the way. This might not seem like a big deal, but remember that the present moment is all we really have.
That’s because absolutely no moment of the past is still occurring or is important now. Likewise, no one single second of the future is guaranteed or can be known.
We can speculate, we can guess, and we can imagine all day long. But guess what?
I don’t deal in imaginations, dreams, or illusions and neither should you. You should do your best with the reality we all have to live.
Whether we like it or not.
The only thing that’s “real,” is the present moment. Doesn’t it make sense that we should learn how to do our best possible job in this singular present moment. See, there’s a reason for everything I say. It isn’t just to browbeat anybody. This is an issue for all of us. Your life won’t be what it can be unless you take this seriously.
Relationships won’t be as beautiful and fulfilling.
You won’t have the same type of appreciation for anything pleasurable.
You probably won’t even have as many zero’s in your bank account because of this (that’s not everything, but come on; we all like more money).
So where do you start?
How do you take responsibility for this and up your living present skill?
It’s actually easy.
Scratch that. It can be hard mentally until you get used to it.
It’s straightforward, as are all the best solutions. In order to help you all focus and be engaged (see what I did there?), here’s the list of nine ways to get in the moment:
1). Perspective and Persistence- This is a good one to start with if you’ve never worked on this. This is a quick way to remind yourself that your little petty problems are stupid. That’s right. Yeah, that’ insulting, but it’s the truth. Dont’ worry, I still struggle with my own dumb distractions too. Everybody has a relative sense of suffering. This means that what’s suffering for one person is not for another. The biggest problem with suffering?
It takes out of the present moment. You want to be experiencing something different than you are currently experiencing. If you have a debilitating disease than it’s going to be hard not to curse your existence.
But do you really need to complain every time the cashier has to ring up the price of an item?
Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about either. You and I both know the feeling of wishing you could get through the line faster. But at what cost to our present-centeredness?
I think developing your stoicism and poise is the best first step you can take to living in the moment. Remember, you’re not the only one that experiences discomfort, inconveniences, or setbacks.
You see, suffering is always a choice. Certain situations don’t make it feel that way. i’m not going to tell you that suffering when you have cancer is reasonable or expected.
It’s not, but that guy sending mixed messages doesn’t need to be suffering. Forget about it, curse him out and move on, do whatever; but choose to not suffer. You have this power in most situations if you let yourself have it.
That leads me to my next point….
2). Make the decision to be a happy, present person- These first two go hand and hand. It sounds too obvious, but it also needs to be screamed for some folks to get it. Every day you need to tell yourself that you’re a happy, present, and humble person who isn’t’ entitled. Most folks give themselves bullshit stories all day long about what they “deserve.” Deserve has nothing to do with it. That’s harsher than what most charlatan self-improvement guru’s might tell you.
It’s the reality. Anybody who’s lived long enough will tell you this. You can talk deserve all day long, but that doesn’t put money in your pocket or happiness in your heart. You know what does?
Bringing yourself back to a place where you’re grateful for what you have. Tell yourself that nothing is certain in this life. Tell yourself that everything is a gift from the universe. When you make this decision, you’ll stop worrying so much about “deserve,” and more about finding meaning. This is important and leads me to this….
3). Give everything in your life a profound meaning- Everything that happens to you does for a reason. That sounds corny and cliché, but you live much better this way. I used to be a massive nihilistic that walked through life easily frustrated and always whining. My expectations and entitlements plagued me, because I couldn’t give meaning to any struggles that I had.
When I realized that everything (even the very bad) could teach me a lesson, make me stronger, or give me perspective, everything changed. Life became an adventure. It became something to cherish, something to appreciate for all it’s elements. Everything takes on a whole new meaning, and you don’t look at failures as failures. No, you start to look at “failures,” as learning experiences, or the universe reaching out to you.
All the negative events, sadness, and even the most intensely miserable moments of life have a meaning. You don’t even have to understand what the meaning is at the time. The most important thing is that you understand that truth throughout your day to day life. This ties in with the next part
4). Don’t avoid negative emotions, but don’t be consumed by them either- Have you ever tried to completely repress or “push down,” anger, sadness, physical discomfort or anything else not pleasant?
Doesn’t work does it? No, it only makes you rebound and experience those emotions stronger at some other point. Or, it’ll cause you to engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms. alcoholism, porn addiction, eating disorders, and any other ways to sedate yourself. It happens because you don’t let yourself feel the full weight of emotional pain or trauma.
It’s understandable, because some things that happen to good folks are unspeakably awful. There’s not getting around that. I have nothing but sympathy for any of you reading who have every been abused, emotionally, mentally, sexually or any other way. It’s something I have no concept of.
That being said, therapy of some type is almost always necessary to move through that. Hopefully you have trusted friends, loved ones and others to help you through it. Always reach out to people. No matter what’s happened to you, most people are good people and will help you.
Never let any one person dampen your spirit forever. That’s a lost soul who’s damaged beyond repair. That’s tragic, but that too is part of life. It’s part of the story we’re apart of. I don’t know sexual abuse, but I know intense mental abuse.
I’ve seen good people in my family have their spirit beaten into the ground by a controlling narcissist.
You have to confront it at some point. If that means avoiding people or cutting them off, you have to do it.
You HAVE to, no other option unless you want to live as an anxious, broken husk of a human being. As I said above, get help from others if you feel emotionally too fragile or unsafe in doing this.
You don’t owe those folks an explanation either. Get them out of your life by any means necessary. Now, what about when you have the problem. Maybe you stew in your own negative juices. That can happen easier than you think. Bad shit that happens to you stay with you…
Way too long. Years later you’re still thinking about that one time somebody made fun of your weight, called you a name, or any other mean thing. Listen, they’ve moved on, and you haven’t.
No, that’s not “fair.” But, go back to the previous points, and stop thinking in terms of fair and deserve. You can have a great life, and thinking in those terms will make you miserable. It’ll make you an angry or depressed person who always wants something more ideal.
The way you avoid drowning in negative emotions is to seek out those better people, situations, places and other experiences that feel good or build you up as a human being.
What happened in the past happened, and you don’t need to understand why. You can have the humility to not need to understand why bad things happen to good people.
This takes practice for sure. I’m only just getting better at it myself. Trust me though, you will live life completely differently once you let this sink in.
“That’s whatever Michael.” “But what about actual lifestyle stuff.” “Are there things I can do?”
Say no more, On to lifestyle and behavioral tips!
5). Make travel and novel experiences a priority- If you’re an introvert or a homebody than this is a big change. It’s worth it. When you travel, something important happens. You automatically live in the moment more. Why? I have the answer.
The reasons are two-fold. One, you experience the literal metaphor of moving beyond your past when you move a big distance. It doesn’t even matter how you move around. It can be a train, boat, plane, bus, bicycle or on foot. It’s truly just getting in motion that takes you out of stagnation.
It feels good physically if you go by bicycle or foot. More importantly, you experience a mental, emotional and spiritual clearing out of you head. You feel more at ease, more open to the entire world that is open you in this present moment.
The power of the present moment materializes into being. Staying in the same place leads to a type of spiritual exhaustion and anxiety. It’s not in our DNA to stay in the same place all the time. It feels wrong, as if we’re gearing up to die.
Frequent moving around, even just walking in a neighborhood, prevents or lessens this.
Important note: Do not go somewhere far away and do nothing different than what you do at home. That is not much better than staying put. You still get some benefit of the moving, but you lessen the present moment boost.
Talk to people. Talk to people that you wouldn’t normally talk to. This excites your spirt, and reminds you of the boundlessness of life.
Recently, I took a trip to Miami, and it was incredibly stimulating. Yo hablo un poquito Español (shameless brag) and it was a fun challenge to speak a little bit of my gringo Spanish with the locals. It gave me a glimpse into a very different, yet similar, world.
But you don’t have to become an expat to experience this. If you already live in a big city, then get out more. That doesn’t mean get wasted at nightclubs either. It means go to art shows, go to farmer’s markets, go to venues, neighborhoods, and places in the city you normally wouldn’t.
“But some places are unsafe.”
Yeah, life is unsafe. That’s a poor excuse. Don’t go to infamous areas by yourself, when it’s late at night. Use some common sense, but don’t’ let the paranoid crowd keep you from getting out there. This is more valid in other countries, but the U.S. is relatively safe.
Take a few friends with you and go in the daytime. Don’t go to the absolute most infamous areas ( find out what those are.). You’ll be fine. Worse case scenario, take a cab back if it’s getting later.
The point being, it’s actually not that unsafe in most places. Use common sense and all will be well. But what about when you get too excited, and you can’t stop thinking about a future possibility?
This can happen quite a bit when traveling. You want to go somewhere later that day or night, and it’s all you can think about. You can’t even enjoy most of the day, because you’re so giddy. It also means that you experience a lot of impatience, another negative emotion.
But what about when the train is late, and it’s real frustrating, because it’s getting a little late and you want to get back to your hotel?
The anger, anxiety, impatience and stress of the situations can prevent you from working through it. You have to be in the present moment to move forward.
Some impatience is fine, but not when you’re consumed by it. Here’s what you do to avoid that…
6). Practice self-talk to enhance your mindset- Self-talk is the sum total of the many things you say to yourself throughout the day. Simple enough.
But it also refers to how you empower yourself when certain situations are too much to handle. It helps to have a strong mindset anytime the weight of emotion threatens to swallow you whole. Whether it’s anger, boredom, impatience or anything else which is overpowering.
Self-talk is your ace in the hole. Anytime you find yourself in this situation, take time to first center yourself.
That means take 5-10 deep breaths, tell yourself everything is fine, and then get more specific.
You have to give youself gentle but firm reminders that reel in your emotions. They’re running wild, and you have to quiet them. Let’s say you’re at that train station, the train didn’t come. It’s getting late, and you want to be home soon. You’re a little creeped out by the people around you.
It’s okay. Here’s what you do.
After the breaths, think.
“I’m powerful enough to handle this situation.” “I have enough money, a smart phone and other resources to get home.” “After I get home, I will have improved in my decision making ability.” “I’ll know how to keep cool under pressure.” “This is a good test for me as an adult.”
You don’t have to say these exact things. These are the kinds of phrases I say. But say phrases in this vain. This type of self-talk doe a couple of things.
- Reminds you that you have several viable options. You can call or signal for a cab, you can look at a sign for other trains with other routes, you can even ask someone working there if they know of another way to get home.
- Empowers you, because you’ve given a new identity to your “problem.” It’s no longer that. It’s a challenge or test. This seems a bit ridiculous, but changes your attitude toward it. You’re no longer cowardly and fearful. You’re engaged and ambitious to conquer it.
- You clearly gain perspective (there’s that word again). You become calmer, and realize you’re not in a true crisis. There are rarely causes to truly panic, become flustered or freeze up. You become calm and centered. You’ve seen that word before too.
That’s what you do.
“Can I set myself up for this kind of thing. I don’t want to wait until it’s too late.” “Should I practice every day.”
Yes, you’ll do better if you start or end your day practicing self-talk.
I recommend starting your day with this and some other habits that set you up for a good day. That means the following….
7). Have a solid empowering morning routine- Empowerment isn’t about corny Facebook or Instagram posts and people’s fake presentation of their perfect life.
No, that’s the side of inspiration we need less of. That doesn’t do much for actually empowering anybody. It just makes you feel like shit, because you can’t live up to something. Also, it’s not personalized, and therefore, not adjusted to what you need individually.
When you wake up, do a couple things:
- Yoga or abundance stretches- Do a basic Vinyasha yoga sequence based on your physical fitness or capabilities. Or, do the abundance posture stretches discussed here.
- Practice gratitude- Write five to ten things you are grateful for. These can be people, places, feelings, things or experiences. Anything that you can be grateful for. Don’t worry if it seems silly. If you’re grateful for it, that’s all that matters.
- Pray, visualize or meditate on abundance and success- Take time to imagine the great life you are moving toward. The power of the mind is immense. Those things we think on, we tend to move toward. Make it a spiritual conversation with God if you’re a believer. Even if you’re not, imagine moving toward great accomplishments for your life. Don’t go small either. Think big. That’s what gets you excited. You want to be excited about life, even when it’s hard.
- Appreciate your past, embrace the moment, and project into the future- Take a second to appreciate what you went through and how it makes you who you are. Then, Remind yourself to Fully Live and embrace the now. Finally, Think of how it’s all leading to something wonderful in the future. Think of it just like that. Don’t worry about it seeming corny.
Those are the steps to start yourself down a track to appreciation life as the beautiful gift that it is.
You will also feel at peace with whatever you have to do right now, today.
8. Become an artist- Yes, you. You’re not Picasso, and that’s not what this means. It means pick some way to express yourself and get to expressing. I talk to people all the time about writing. They almost always say the same thing,
“I couldn’t do that.” “When I sit in front of a computer screen my mind goes blank.”
You know why they say that?
Because they are intensely fearful of what their own writing will look like. This is insane, because your writing is just an outgrowth of what you think or say.
You’re literally scared of what you are.
When you decide to do art, you have to get over that.
By art, that’s anything uniquely expressive or creative. It’s any form of music, type of writing, painting, sculpting, and many other things.
Try a lot of different types to see what you might like. Likely, the right art for you will click almost immediately. It’ll relate to something you always felt deep inside you. It’ll feel like you can finally let yourself out.
I know when I write, it feels like a spilling out of everything pent up in my body. It’s a massive relief.
So become an artist, any type of artist. You won’t regret it. You’ll also live in the moment, because that’s what happens when you’re expressing the real you.
You get into yourself, if that makes sense. It’s endless nerve racking obligations, rules and other concerns that take you out of this.
Return to your natural state through art.
9. Do things that make your adrenaline rush-This might be the most obvious, but it stands to reason. When you do something that activates the fight or flight response, you HAVE to become present. There’s no ability not to. Your body stops the other processes of digesting, recovering and thinking.
Should you go climbing mountains without a safety harness?
Should you go start a random fist fight like you’re Tyler Durden from fight club?
No, don’t get too carried away here. Safety is still a concern, and I’m not asking anybody to do anything that puts their life at great risk.
What I mean is to do something, that you know is at least a little bit nerve racking. That’s individual, so you’ll have to use your intuition to think of what that is.
It might be skydiving.
It might be talking to twenty five random strangers in a day if that’s hard for you to do.
It just has to be something that takes a little bit of courage. You’ll know if it’s correct or not, because you’ll consider not doing it. You’ll have to just go and do it, so that you’ll actually do it.
You’ll have to stop thinkin’ so much. You’ll get a small release of adrenaline as you do it. That’s your body reacting as it’s designed to. Don’t mind it. March forward past it. It’ll go away when you actually start the process.
Do one thing like that every day.
That’s how you stay regular with practice. After all, all this advice is useless if you don’t apply it.
To Make A Long Story Short
Have patience with yourself. This takes time. When you grow up constantly removed from the moment, it takes time to appreciate it.
But it will come with time. Take the advice you saw here today and consider it. You don’t necessarily have to apply them all at once. In fact, that’s not ideal. Take them one at a time, starting from the beginning of the list.
You’ll be glad you did. Remember, the present moment is all we have. Life is an exhausting and draining slog when you’re always in the grips of various demons or emotional monsters that never leave you alone.
When you embrace the true limitlessness of the moment, that’s when you’re life begins.
Take care my good friends. Start to live today, and continue living from here on out. Don’t look back. Just get to living.
P.S. You won’t want to miss the newsletter that’ll be coming up soon. It’ll have nuggets of wisdom like this. But, they’ll be coming fast and furious. You won’t want to miss a single email!