With the rising popularity of emotional intelligence and meditation for success, a related concept has been popping up all the time: staying present in the moment.
What does “living in the here and now” actually mean?
This article will help you discover how being present can improve your wealth, happiness, love life, and relationships.
What Does “Living in the Present Moment” Mean?
It means being fully focused on what is happening right now. Not letting your mind wander to memories of your past or thoughts about the future.
Being present has a distinct feeling. When you’re present, you’re there with whatever is happening in front of you. You aren’t caught up in the traumas or frustrations of what has happened to you recently or in the distant past, nor are you caught up in the anxiety and worry of your future.
Famous, Successful People Who Support Being Present in the Moment
- In the documentary The Last Dance, people highlighted a couple traits that separated Michael Jordan from other basketball players. Those traits included his unparalleled work ethic, his competitive nature, and his ability to always be present in the moment.
- Tom Brady, one of the most successful American football players of all time.
- Chris Evans, world-famous actor of Captain America.
- Russell Simmons, an successful businessman in the music industry. He emphasizes being present in his books Success Through Stillness and Super Rich.
- Tai Lopez
- Karlie Kloss, world-famous supermodel (source: Tim Ferriss interview, time stamp 1:04:32)
- Lilly Singh, Forbes ranked her as the #10 highest paid YouTuber (source: Chapter 12 and 35 of her book, How To Be A Bawse)
- Dr. Robert Glover (author of No More Mr. Nice Guy), he’s done whole seminars on presence.
- Eckharte Tolle
- Charlie Hoehn, author and keynote speaker
- Tucker Max, angel investor, best-selling author, and entrepreneur
- Oprah Winfrey
- Mel Robbins
- Brendon Burchard, multi-million dollar business entrepreneur and speaker
- Evan Carmichael, self help YouTuber with over a million subscribers
Benefits of Being Present
Why should you be more present?
“In a blink of an eye, it’s over.” -The Rock
When you’re too focused on what you don’t have or what you wish you had, you’re missing out on what you already have. Since life is so short, you can all of a sudden look back and realize that you missed out on a lot of it because you were always thinking about the future.
Here’s The Rock, named one of the highest paid actors in 2017 by Forbes, talking about the importance of being present in his Instagram video:
You Will Feel Happier and Reduce Suffering
James Altucher described the beauty of staying present more concisely and accurately than anyone else in his book, Choose Yourself.
He says that if you’re feeling bad, it’s almost always because you’re thinking of something in the past or in the future.
Maybe it’s a car that cut you off 2 minutes ago. Or a memory of a kid who bullied you in school 7 years ago. Or maybe you’re worried about doing well in a business meeting that will happen 2 weeks from now.
If you just stay present with what you’re actually experiencing right now and take your mind off the past or future, you may feel a lot happier.
You Reduce Anxiety and Stress While Increasing Relaxation
Ever noticed how all our pain, suffering, or anxiety in our head happens when we’re thinking about the future or past rather than being in the present?
Short-term past thinking: “I can’t believe I said that to her.”
Distant past thinking: “As a child, I was rejected by girls. That is why I can’t approach her now or even look at her.”
Short-term future thinking: “I’m running out of things to say, I got to ignore what she’s saying so I can think of what to say next.”
Distant future thinking: “How am I going to become rich? This isn’t working and that isn’t working. I’m frustrated.”
You see the power of being present? If you just focus or enjoy what’s happening in the moment, the rest can take care of itself.
“If you look at the trophy and aim at the target you won’t hit the target. If you look at the target and aim at the target, you will get the trophy.” -proverb
Vishen Lakhiani is the founder of MindValley, a company worth over $100 million. He puts being present beautifully in a story from his book Code of the Extraordinary Mind:
He was running a large business and had just returned from a summit. For his short vacation, he couldn’t enjoy his time with his family because he was so anxious about the hundreds of emails and other responsibilities awaiting him, including raising two children.
Vishen tried to be present by focusing on his breath and it immediately calmed and relaxed himself.
Communication, Dating, and Relationship Success
One of the biggest benefits of being present in a relationship is that you are focused rather than absent-minded or thinking about something outside of what you’re experiencing at the moment.
In almost every human interaction, whether it’s a business meeting, sales meeting, date, public speaking event, talk with your spouse, or first introduction, it’s off-putting when the other person knows you aren’t mentally there with them.
If you’re off in wonderland thinking about what you will order for lunch next week. what you will say when the other person finishes talking, or why your past rejection is preventing you from being who you are, you are not present. You will miss what was said and if they notice, they will not be impressed.
Being in the moment is really about focus. It’s not easy to focus on whatever craft you are doing now without getting bored or nervous about the future.
When others are walking to work or to a store, they’re on their phones or thinking about their work. When they’re at work, they’re daydreaming about going on vacations or what they will do for lunch. Even when they are making love with their partner, they are fantasizing about someone else rather than experiencing the moment.
As you can see, this is off-putting to anyone else. Have you ever had a date or had a conversation with someone who was on their phone the whole time? Rather than be engaged and have a lively conversation, they resort to being outside of the present moment by escaping onto their phones. They might as well not be there in the first place if they don’t enjoy it.
Many employees feel the horrible results of failing to be present in the moment. They are, for example, riddled with severe anxiety that keep them up at night and prevent them from relaxing during and after work because they are scared they won’t hit a goal they set out or that’s expected of them.
This anxiety can destroy their performance, enjoyment, and happiness with excessive stress.
Dr. Robert Glover often gets a lot of high level executives with this problem through his coaching program Nice Guys Don’t Finish Last. They Rot In Middle Management.
Ever notice how most of the drivers of unhappiness have to do with when you are thinking about the future or past? It often has to do with worry. You’re concerned if you can pay your bills, achieve a milestone, do well on a date, how your past trauma still haunts you, or how someone hurt you.
By staying present and not thinking about the past or future, you eliminate a lot of unhappiness. Also, you experience all there really is in life. The past is over so you can’t experience it again for real. The future isn’t here yet so you can’t experience that yet.
I don’t believe in the extremist view that you should never think about the past or future. I do believe that you should use the past as a learning lesson to plan and the future as a guidepost to plan. Anything beyond using them as tools usually is unproductive and bad for you. Think about it. Outside of using them to help you, thinking about the past or future usually revolves around being handicapped or resentful by your past or unnecessary fear or anxiety of the future.
Many salesman fail the sale the moment they step in because they have a pre-determined agenda. They want a specific sale to happen or they have assumptions on what the prospect wants. They end up manipulating or failing to find out about if the prospect actually wants what they assume.
With a scarcity mindset and rigid focus on the possible successful outcomes, you rule out other positive options that you never considered could happen. There could be other unexpected ways of helping a prospect more that can make you more money or the short-term failure leads to a new door opening that leads to an even greater success.
By being more present and not coming in with an agenda, the prospect senses a different vibe.
You Stop Missing Out On Current Experiences
Imagine it’s your last day of vacation. But you’re dreading returning to work. Because you think about returning to work so much, you miss out on enjoying the last day.
Living your life distant from the present can lead to regret when you’re older. You don’t want to look back on life and realize that you spent most of your time wishing or thinking about the future or past. You’ll look back on life and marvel at how fast time flew and how you were never there to experience it.
Young people want to grow up fast so they waste a lot of their time impatiently thinking about what they will do when they get older. But old people wish they had enjoyed more of their youth.
People spend most of their lives not present in the moment. Because of this, they end up missing out on most of their life experiences. They’re always caught in some fantasy land with a memory of the past that can’t be changed or a potential future that isn’t here yet. Rather, be different from others and stay present.
How to Tell You’re Not Present
A quick way to tell if you’re not present is if you’re holding your breath. If you’re not breathing normally in and out, it’s a sign you’re thinking about the past or future.
Being out of the moment usually comes from:
- Anxiety about how the near or distant future will turn out.
- Thinking about the past or future: This can be a good or bad thought, including what video game you will play when you get home.
- Boredom or dissatisfaction with what you’re doing in the present.
- Lack of awareness or mindfulness: this is normal and, like any skill, takes practice to improve.
What usually brings us out of the moment is our own genetic wiring. We’re programmed to worry and plan for the future to prevent catastrophe and improve the quality of our lives. Sometimes, we think so much that our thoughts run away from us like a train off its tracks. While this can be helpful in some scenarios, it’s not optimal in all scenarios. Over-stressing and overthinking lead to mediocre performance.
How To Stay Present
Struggling with staying present?
Don’t worry. It’s normal. It’s a skill that takes daily practice.
Try these techniques:
- Avoid attachment to outcome. Focusing on the possibility of a future outcome can lead to anxiety and under-performance. Accept the worst case scenario.
- Focus and enjoy the process rather than outcomes or goals.
- Recognize micro and macro moments of non-presence:
- Micro: An example would be during a date when you are ruminating or overthinking about what happened ten seconds ago or what you will say one minute from. You’re worried about how cool appear versus how cool you actually are. This takes you out of the present because you’re not listening to what your date’s telling you.
- An example would be worrying about a discussion you had at work with your boss several days ago and scared you will lose your job.
- Or you’re stressing about the if you’ll meet a worthy spouse and have a good family with kids 10 years from now.
- Mindfulness or Breathe Meditation. Meditation has helped me reduce day-dreaming and getting off track in discussions tremendously.
- Focus on appreciating any sounds, feelings, or sights around you no matter how mundane they appear. You’ll be surprised how much you take for granted and how beautiful nature is when you give it the chance.
Being Present Isn’t Always A Good Thing
Humans are unique because we’re the only species that is self-aware and thinks about our past to improve our future. We’ve benefited greatly from learning from our past and storing knowledge to better predict the future.
Stay in the present only when you’re diminishing the downsides of thinking of the past or present. As mentioned, the negatives of being out of the moment usually have to do with losing focus on what you care about not or over-dwelling on a future decision or negative experience.
You have permission and should take time to reflect on the mistakes of history to plan for a better future.
What’s your biggest lesson from this article? Let me know in the comments below.