My Secret to Well Being Is Profoundly Simple

It’s something anyone can do.

Photo: Miguel Mateo

It has nothing to do with technology, to-do lists, organization, start-ups, entrepreneurship or anything material, so if that’s what you’re expecting you’ll be disappointed.

To be in the present moment. That’s my biggest life hack.

What does that look like? Well, I suspect it’s different for everyone, but for me it means feeling the sun on my back and enjoying the breeze as I wait for the walk sign to come on so I can cross the street. It’s making eye contact with the people I’m speaking with, taking five minutes to sit and do nothing and just listen to the sounds of the day, the sounds of the present moment.

When I do any of these or similar things, I feel a warmth because I feel more connected, more here. When I’m distracted by the manic thoughts of planning ahead in my mind, thinking of what I need to do next or next week/year, or when I’m consumed by my smart phone or music — it’s just busy work, in a way. I mean, ultimately, those things will only take me so far and don’t really matter.

The real thing to consider and at hand is the present moment. It’s literally all we have because the past is over and done with, despite our eternal efforts to rewrite it in our heads, and the future is unknown.

Obviously this can feel hard to do in our contemporary culture and way of living. I write for a living and I have to go into my “mind world” to do my work, as many people do. It’s where I put together complex technical ideas and try to see a story from many different perspectives.

It’s important for me to not stay there continually, though, in my mind world. I need the connection with other human beings, nature and my body to feel real. Getting lost in my own maze of thoughts and rambling internal narratives for a long period of time isn’t ultimately good for me and probably isn’t good for anyone. Think about it.

It’s taken 42 years for me to actually understand (in a real way) the beauty and relaxation of the present moment. I wish I could go back in time and tell the 15 year old me the secret, though she probably wouldn’t understand.