Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why we call it ‘The Present’ – Eleanor Roosevelt
Of the many avenues available for achieving inner peace, living with your feet planted solidly in the present moment, experiencing it as a gift, is one of the most powerful and widely recognized. From Buddhism to Christianity, to New Age doctrine there are urgings to “Be here now.” It’s seldom that there is such agreement across belief systems, and the reasons, in this case, are plain.
Many of the troubles that plague humans stem from either dragging yesterday into today or treating the very things we created to serve us as though they cannot be changed, even when they clearly no longer serve. If we could allow our memories to be a foundation upon which we stand, but not allow them to unduly shape or overwhelm us, we would have little trouble navigating the needs of the present.
So, how does one foster the ability to live in the moment? Again, there are many methods, but the starting point is recognizing how valuable it is. Then it’s time to start implementing some tools, such as the following…
Start the Day with Gratitude
When you wake up in the morning, do it with a smile and thankfulness for getting to live another day. Remind yourself of how much has gone right to make that possible, from the sun rising to all your body’s systems functioning in concert to keep you alive. This simple act roots you a little more solidly in the present moment, reminding you that it is a new day, with new possibilities.
A PubMed study Conducted by Emmons and McCullough revealed that, “conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.”1 So, in addition to bringing your focus to the present, waking with gratitude can improve your mood and positively impact your relationships. If that doesn’t contribute to inner peace, I don’t know what does.
Remember Where You Are
You’re only ever experiencing this moment, even when your mind is conjuring up the past, or probing into the future. You’re right here. You can learn from what came before and take steps towards a future you’d like to inhabit, but you’re still doing it from the moment you’re currently in.
In a PubMed study on the benefits of being present Brown & Ryan demonstrated that mindfulness practitioners exhibit enhanced self-regulation, self-awareness, and psychological well-being relative to others.2 These findings support the idea that developing a mindfulness practice will foster a greater degree of equilibrium and a more positive outlook on life.
If you’re new to the idea, start small. Anything can become a meditation with a little attention and focus. For example, when washing the dishes tune into the feeling of the warm water and soap on your hands. Observe the sensation of the sponge gliding across the dish.
Consider the utility of each of the things you cleanse and recognize their service to your life. Couple this with deep breaths, slower than average, inhaling through your nose and exhaling the same way.
You’ll soon experience an improvement in your mood and an increase in the enjoyment of the activity. You’ll likely find yourself wanting to apply that same type of awareness to other activities in your day. As these moments increase, so too will your presence and your sensation of inner peace.
- Emmons RA, McCullough ME. Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003 Feb;84(2):377-89. doi: 10.1037//0022-3518.104.22.1687. PMID: 12585811.
Brown KW, Ryan RM. The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003 Apr;84(4):822-48. doi: 10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1242. PMID: 12703651.
This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy. This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.