How to be more present in life: nine habits to build

woman looking peaceful; how to be more present in life

The only moment that is truly ours in life is the present moment. I know I don’t need to tell you that. But even though we’re aware of the fragility of life, we don’t always do a good job of actually living with presence . It’s something we could all work on. That’s why I put together this article, as a reminder of how to be more present in life.

Like anything else in life, living in the present is a habit. A muscle that is strengthened the more you commit to using it. So let’s get to it!

9 ways to be more present in your life

1. Increase your awareness

It all starts with awareness. You can’t work on being more present in your life unless you first begin to notice just how frequently your awareness wanders.

Make an effort to notice how often your mind wanders off to anything in the past or the future.

It could be something as small as thinking about what you plan to have for dinner. Or it could be that you start thinking about memories with an ex-partner. Maybe it takes the form of anxiety about your future — where your life is going or that big assignment you have due soon at work.

You don’t necessarily need to physically track it in a journal (although that could help!), but just catch your mind wandering. Think to yourself, “there goes my mind again, wandering off from the present moment!”

The important part is to notice your mind taking you away from the present moment, but to not judge yourself for it.

2. Find tiny sources of joy throughout your day

Whether it’s chopping fresh vegetables, or noticing the vibrant purple of a flower on your daily walk, make a note to point out the tiny details of your day to day life that bring you joy.

Using our senses keeps us grounded in the present.

And the small joys of day to day life are what make life beautiful — in both the good times and the bad.

3. Meditate

Meditation is a powerful mindfulness tool because it works on training your awareness. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.

It doesn’t have to be a guided meditation.

Any time you center yourself, close your eyes, focus on your breathing and bring your awareness to the sensations of your body while observing where your thoughts go, you are meditating!

4. Journal

When looking at how to be more present in life, journaling can be a great tool to turn to.

There are a variety of ways you can use journaling to ground you in the present. You can write a list of what you’re grateful for today, or more generally reflect on your thoughts and feelings at the present moment. If you want more guidance on how to start a journaling practice, check out my free guide for inspiration!

5. Listen more

We’re all guilty of it. You start out paying attention to a conversation, but soon your mind wanders to any number of things.

One way we can all work on being more present is to be more intentional about listening while others are talking.

Focus on the words, make eye contact, and even repeat their words to yourself in your head as they speak.

6. Build mindful habits

Okay, so I know a lot of what I’ve mentioned so far can fall under mindful habits.

But, building habits requires dedication on a daily basis so it deserves it’s own special call out! To learn what else falls under mindfulness besides meditation and journaling, check out my article on mindfulness here.

7. Let go of your need to control

A lot of times when our minds wander away from the present, it’s because we have an impulse to overthink the past or the future, as if thinking about it somehow gives us control.

Once you’ve built awareness of when your mind moves away from the present, work on letting go of your need to control. This can take the form of gentle reminders to yourself as soon as you notice your mind trying to control things. It takes time, but if you’re kind to yourself it is much more effective!

8. Disconnect to connect

Technology is great, and it definitely has its place. But it can get in the way of us being truly present with our surroundings. Social media rabbit holes and endless sources of entertainment/learning make it difficult to keep our focus on the present!

Spend some time each day away from technology. This could be time in nature, time spent on a hobby that doesn’t require a screen, exercise, or a meal shared with others.

9. Don’t take yourself too seriously

And last but not least, don’t take yourself so seriously!

It can be easy to get lost in the quest of bettering ourselves and our lives that we can forget that the current version of ourselves is worthy as is.

Take the focus and judgement off of yourself! This can often be the key to truly leaning in and fully connecting with the people and activities that make you feel most alive.

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