You are here, alive and present
Or how to be happy by living the moment.
Not so long ago I would have started my morning routine with social networks. Those days, as soon as I lift my head off the pillow to the ringing of alarm clock in my mobile phone, I press the “Dismiss” button and by force of habit open the list of notifications about unread mail, photos on Instagram liked during the night, published on Facebook posts of my friends, dozens of new messages on Telegram and burn the first half an hour of my morning in the name of procrastination.
Let’s do some simple math. 30 minutes, 365 days. 10950 minutes of my life and every year I cross them out of time for learning new languages, improving my physical form and reading books.
Sometimes I would have woken up at 3 am from a vague anxiety and first of all grab my phone to check if someone wrote to me or liked the photo of dessert I have made for my girlfriend yesterday.
Take into account hourly five-minute breaks for meaningless Facebook scrolling and for reading Twitter during the breakfast to understand why one day I have sat up and asked myself, “How could I change everything?”.
It sounds pretty funny, but the answer accidentally came out during one of my meditations. I do yoga three years in a row, but that was the first time I have dived into the meaning instead of the sound of the phrase our couch use to finish the session:
You are here, alive and present.
We think about the future so often, as if we are already there. We hold on the past so strong, as the time machine is invented and we could fix everything. When I woke up in the morning, the most important things for me surprisingly were from the past: night snowfall in England, soccer match results, unread messages with memes. When I went to bed, in my mind pictures of the future were rotating: meetings next week, coming deadline for Software Engineering Economics course and rumors about the release of iPhone 6s Mini. When I jumped up in the middle of the night to grab my phone, I was experiencing the Fear of Missing Out as well as the fear that somewhere in the world people are probably having fun without me.
I stuck between the past and the future.
Maybe, you are too? It is easy to recognize, especially nowadays. I can have a look at the social networks you use, at the smartphone lying close to your hands without a reason, at the fact that you have opened the article with the title promising you happy life without real difficulties (hope so), and the most important, by looking in your eyes and noticing a tinge of regret.
I have never ever lived in the present. All my life was built around the thought that I have to plan my actions every time and everywhere. I had to have good grades at school because “without that you won’t be able to enter the university”. I had to enter the university because “without that you won’t be able to find a job”. I had to find a job because “you can’t spend your life lying at the beach somewhere in India, eating rice and surfing” (actually, I can). No one ever said to me “Hey, dude, wanna give a chance to the Now? You are here, alive and present!”.
So how to feel the power beyond these words? How to get rid of social media addiction, needless anxiety and let go your past suffering? What to do to sleep better and feel peace and free? Here are seven thoughts I use to cope with the same problem.
- Understand, that you will not be able to fix the past, nor will you be able to build the future without living the moment.
Our ancestors hardly thought about hours, weeks or years. Their thoughts probably were closer to “Twice more time and I will be at the rock” or “Thrice less steps and I will be in the cave”.
- Understand, that generally people are trying to be efficient and do things right. However, if you do not want to regret about time, try to be effective and do the right things.
- Understand, that your perception of the present depends on how much you are ready to put yourself in the present.
When I was in high school, my favourite time of the day was the night. During the night I was dreaming and that was helping me delay the morning, study, classes, where I had to go to the board and to solve problems. Now I have no such external pressure and I enjoy the day much more, riding longboard, reading books and going out with friends.
- Understand, that the previous rule depends on your health and this is time to do something about that.
- Understand, that the most important question is not “what am I going to do tomorrow?”, but “what do I do now?”.
- Understand, that external approval as well as the outside world as a whole can and should wait.
Likes on Instagram will not disappear if you notice them a week later. You do not have to answer messages on Facebook at 7 am. There is no need to know that during the night someone created another topic on Reddit.
- Understand, that you do not need the past to make yourself happy, nor the future for living better. You need the present.
By the way, I have to add a disclaimer (sorry if it’s too late!): this is really difficult to live simple and to be happy. Obligations pressure with invisible burden, promises recall at the wrong time and expectations of other people sometimes could make you turn around and leave the desired path in favor of the crowd.
However, it can be done. Just do not forget why you are fighting with this procrastination, why you are running in the morning or why you are taking this cold shower. It is very important to find the edge between “I do remember what I want from my life” and “I do believe that anything worthy is in the future”. Do not forget that all worthy things are here and now.
My morning starts with a quiet vibration of the alarm clock on my wrist. Finally, I wake up taking freezing cold shower (huge thanks to Jeremy Ginsburg, whose story has helped me understand why I can’t live without them).
After that, until the water for poached eggs begins to boil in a saucepan, I meditate listening to the sound of ocean waves. Half an hour later I slowly get dressed and go to meet with friends barely remember to take the phone with me.
Make the first step to happy life is very easy. Just remember the most important thing you have learned today:
You are here. Alive and present.
Thanks for reading! Hope you do not think I have wasted your time by writing this story. Feel free to share your own hints on living the moment or tell me what you think about the idea in general.