If you have heard the phrase, “Living in the Now”
before and dismissed it as too trite, foreign, or granola-y for you, perhaps that’s because it was. But that was then, and this is now. And, as you’ll soon learn, Now is where it’s at.Living in the Now is a deceptively simple idea. It means that wherever you are physically, you are also there psychologically and emotionally. Where you exist in body, you do so in mind and spirit—wholly, truly, fully—with every ounce of your being. Living in the Now does not necessarily mean that you are happy or joyful. It’s just that whatever you are experiencing at that time you are actually
experiencing it, rather than escaping it. Living in the Now is a state of emotional and psychological alignment and it is imperative for living an emotionally healthy life
Do you Live in the Now?
Try the Following Quiz to Find Out:
A.) During the past week, how much time have you spent fully present living in the Now?
(1) Most of the time. I move in and out of it at points, but generally speaking I am living in the Now.
(2) Some of the time. I have brief flashes of living in the Now, but most of the time I find that I am partially focused elsewhere.
(3) Virtually none. I have constantly been distracted, anchored to the past, nervously anticipating the future, or otherwise psychologically absent from the Now.
B. During the past week, how many times have you been so immersed in an activity that when the activity ended you were surprised at how quickly time had passed?
(1) I have felt that way at least five times.
(2) I have felt that way at least once but less than five times.
(3) I have not felt that way at all during the past week.
C. Right now, as you read this, how focused are you on these words?
(1) 100 percent. I am here. I am with you. You had me at “right now.”
(2) At least 70 percent. I am reading this but there is a part of me that is thinking about the other things I should be doing.
(3) I am rereading this passage for the second or third time because I was distracted.
Let’s see how you did. Add up the scores (1, 2, or 3) on the three questions from this quiz and look below to consider where you are now.
Total Score 3-5: You are living in the Now. Good for you! Don’t let me distract you from your smooth, Buddha-like flow—not that I could, of course.
Total Score 6-7: You have moments of being in the Now, but the majority of your time is spent in various states of absence.
Total Score 8-9: Bueller? Bueller? Bueller . . . ? Hello! Hello! (snap, snap) Over here! You are absent.
Why Are You Absent?
If having all of you present ultimately enhances your well-being and is essential for getting to the next stage, you may be asking yourself, “Why do I bother escaping the present?” The answer to this question is a simple four-letter word: pain. We are all, thankfully, wired so that when we experience pain we instinctively and instantly move away from it.
Of course, this works for physical pain. When your finger touches something intensely hot you immediately move your hand away without even thinking about it. It also works for psychological pain. When we experience psychological discomfort or pain we instinctively try to escape. But the problem is that we can’t literally escape from pain that is inside of us because there’s nowhere to go. Instead we try to do the next best thing: we exit the present. We become absent. So, what can you do? Are you doomed to live in a state of absence? No. Living in the Now is possible, it just requires a little effort.Instead of fighting yourself and the thoughts that are pulling you out of the now, try honoring them.
A Three-Step Strategy for Living in the Now
1. Listen: to your thoughts for a moment or two. Stop what you are doing and ask yourself, “What are these thoughts about?” Sometimes even speaking the thoughts out loud or writing them down helps you to hear what your mind or heart is telling you. If you do decide to write the thoughts out, keep them brief. Remember, the goal is to show deference to your thoughts and feelings so that you can clear your mental desktop in order to get you back to living in the Now.
2. Acknowledge: the importance of these thoughts or feelings. Remember, you can’t beat ’em, so join ’em. Your intrusive thoughts will no longer need to scream at you to get your attention if you work with them. If these thoughts keep coming up and are getting in the way of the Now, they must be useful to you in some way. You can effectively turn down the volume on your intrusive thoughts by recognizing them as important and worthy of your time and attention¾just not the present time and your current attention. If you consciously acknowledge the value of them, your intrusive thoughts should settle down.
3. Commit: the time, energy, and resources to addressing these thoughts or feelings. Picking a time and putting it down in your calendar will likely help you in this process. You may also put in writing a commitment to engage with these thoughts at another time, but if you do write down your commitment to your intrusive thoughts, you must keep this writing brief.
Here’s the kicker: You must keep this commitment. If you listen to and acknowledge the value of these thoughts and then commit the resources to addressing your intrusive thoughts but don’t actually follow up on your commitment, it may be harder to quiet them next time.
Wherever, or whenever you are I hope this little post helps you get back to the Now.
For now, I have to get back to work. See you later.