by Lauren Mackler
Ideally, a balanced life encompasses the ability to learn from the past, live consciously in the moment, and work toward hopes and dreams for the future.
Do you hang onto the past, or worry too much about the future?
Think about people you know who are so caught up in their work that they never take time to enjoy life in the present. Maybe this is you! Perhaps you have trouble relaxing, even when you feel exhausted. Maybe you just can’t stop thinking about your problems.
In the time it takes to say the word ‘now’, that moment has already slipped from our grasp. And while we can’t hang onto the present, it’s the most real thing we have. We alone decide how to make the best use of the here and now.
Below are 7 exercises to help you connect to the simple pleasures of the moment.
- KEEP A JOURNAL Take some quiet time to write down your thoughts, hopes and dreams in a journal. This is not about grocery lists. Let your mind flow freely and write down all that you feel in the moment.
- PRACTICE MINDFULNESS Many people are so stuck living in the past or fretting about the future, that they miss the richness of life as it’s unfolding. Practice focusing on ‘the now’ and let go of thoughts of the past and future.
- SPEND TIME WITH NATURE Go outdoors. You’ll find that walking barefoot in the cool grass, inhaling spring lilac blossoms, or planting a vegetable garden are wonderful ways to feel grounded.
- FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE Find something beautiful in the ‘here and now’. Take it in and let yourself fully feel it.
- BREATHE Inhale deeply and slowly release your breath. Do this a few times, and try to connect to your breath as you breathe in and out. This is a very good technique for calming yourself when you are feeling anxious.
- RELEASE EXPECTATIONS AND JUDGEMENT Constantly judging others and obsessing over unmet expectations contaminates the present. Let go of your expectations (without judging yourself) and focus on something in your life that is good right now.
- BE GRATEFUL This can be a very healing and powerful exercise. Remind yourself of all the good things in your life right now and write them down.
© 2012 Lauren Mackler
Lauren Mackler is a world-renowned coach and author of the international bestseller Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life. To sign up for her free Live Boldly e-newsletter, click here.