My Practice to Reclaim the Present
And in doing so, reclaim your life.
We are overstimulated as fuck. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that. We have every possible distraction this world can offer literally at our fingertips, and we indulge willingly.
Most of us have simply forgotten how to live. Our days are a repulsive mix of work that we don’t want to do, bad food and screen time.
This is not exactly how we were supposed to be living.
We all look to the future for comfort, thinking that one day, things will be better. When this happens, we’ll be happy.
When I buy that new car, I’ll be happy. When I get that new job, I’ll be happy and so on.
We are all living either in the past or more likely in the future. We believe life awaits us in the future, that happiness and peace await us in the future.
Happiness and peace do not reside in the future however, they, along with everything that makes up life, can be found in the present.
The present is the only thing that really exists. The past and future are just in our minds. We need to stop living in our heads, sleepwalking through our lives.
“All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way.”
Marcus Aurelius. Meditations
Everything you want and need can be found in the present moment.
Have a goal? Work towards it in the present moment.
Want to enjoy life? Enjoy it right now.
It’s not supposed to be that difficult for human beings to live presently. Before our societies came along and spread the notions of success, wealth, power, combined with addictive technologies which hinder us with their distracting forces, humans were living day by day, hunting, farming, appreciating life, the present moment, and everything that comes with it.
So how, in this over-complicated modern world, can we achieve peace and contentment in the present moment, and use that to live happily and purposefully?
There’s no one answer. But there are a lot of tricks, habits that we can eliminate and habits we can pick up to get us on our way.
“We are the generation capable of doing many things at once, without enjoying any of them..”
― Dinesh Kumar Biran
I’m not really sure who came up with the idea of multitasking, but I’ve always considered it to be stupid, and counterproductive.
It doesn’t actually help us in any way, we’re simply doing several things at the same time, badly.
There are huge benefits in just focusing on the task at hand, putting all of our efforts or attention into one thing.
In doing this, you’ll find yourself to be much more present, purposeful and productive than when trying to multitask.
At work, in your personal life, or any other aspect of your life. Whatever you’re up to, do it the courtesy of paying it your full attention. Put your fucking phone away.
Less Screen Time
Technology is such an integral part of our lives and our world now that it has become almost impossible to avoid it.
I need to use technology all the time for my work, and I accept all of the enormous benefits that tech offers us, which we mostly take for granted these days.
Instead of dipping into the vast pool of the entirety of the knowledge and wisdom that has ever been, since history began, that we can find online, we like to binge teen drama Netflix series and watchdogs’ noses being booped.
Eliminating all of the useless, hyperstimulating time that we spend just scrolling and scrolling and scrolling, goes a long way to bringing us back into the present moment.
So put your phone in the drawer for a day or at least a few damn hours. Calm your mind, reflect, and stop being a prisoner of your little rectangular block that you like to carry everywhere with you, just in case a new meme comes out.
It’s detox time.
You’ve probably all aware of the benefits of meditation already so I’ll keep it brief.
This is the most direct way to bring you back into the present moment, to silence your mind, and be at peace right now.
I started meditating years ago, and no I haven’t kept it up for two hours every day since then like some self-development gurus would like you to believe they have. I’ve had on and off patches with meditation, but I’ve never abandoned it. It always serves me, whenever I feel overwhelmed or a little anxious or even unsure of what to do, meditation just makes everything a little clearer.
Try it out if you haven’t already, it’s not that hard.
Make Decisions Mindfully
“A podium and a prison is each a place, one high and the other low, but in either place your freedom of choice can be maintained if you so wish.”
Everything you do in your life is the result of a decision you’ve made, however small it may be.
You decide to look at one more photo on Instagram instead of jumping out of bed to seize the day, that’s a choice you’ve made.
We often make these choices incredibly mindlessly, without thinking about our actions or the repercussions they could have on our lives.
Life is an enormous collection of decisions that we make, some are defining and others mean very little. However, if we can master our decisions, we can master life.
We always have complete control of our own decisions, we have complete control over what we decide to do with our days. It may not seem this way sometimes, largely due to the constraints our world has put on us, which convince us that we need money and power to control our lives, when in fact we need neither, simply clarity of thought in the present, to make the right decision.
If you can make the right decision every time, in the present moment, control your urges and emotions, reflect clearly under no influence from others, you can live the life you want to be living.
Next time you think about doing something, tell yourself this is a decision, this will shape my life in some way or another, and act according to your best wisdom.
So these are the four things I’ve come up with to return to the present this year and to live a free, purposeful life with no constraints. So go do it.
“Were you to live three thousand years, or even a countless multiple of that, keep in mind that no one ever loses a life other than the one they are living, and no one ever lives a life other than the one they are losing. The longest and the shortest life, then, amount to the same, for the present moment lasts the same for all and is all anyone possesses. No one can lose either the past or the future, for how can someone be deprived of what’s not theirs?”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
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